William & Mary gives its coach a nice birthday gift: a big comeback victory

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It was a homecoming to remember for William & Mary as the Tribe earned a fourth consecutive win in a come-from-behind thriller.

After falling into an 18-point hole at halftime, William & Mary came alive in the third quarter, outscoring visiting Albany by 25 points in the second half on the way to a 31-24 victory Saturday.

“What a football game to be a part of,” said head coach Mike London, who was also celebrating his birthday. “To watch some players and coaches that had that cliched, ‘never quit’ attitude, and to watch it unfold, we responded in different ways, offensively and defensively.

“It was just amazing to see, coming down to the very end, being on the positive side of that. It’s a great birthday celebration and a great homecoming win.”

The Tribe drove 87 yards in 12 plays on the first drive of the second half, capping it off with a 3-yard touchdown by Martin Lucas in an effort that London called “indicative of what this team is capable of.”

After forcing a three-and-out on Albany’s next possession, the Tribe recovered a Great Danes fumble on the ensuing punt attempt, with Alex Washington falling on the ball in the end zone for a touchdown to bring the score to 21-17.

William & Mary wasn’t finished. With momentum on their side, the Tribe opted for an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff to retain possession. After a would-be touchdown was called back due to a holding penalty, William & Mary attempted a 40-yard field goal to make it a one-point game, but the attempt went wide.

Not to be deterred, the Tribe forced another fumble on the Great Danes’ next drive, strip-sacking quarterback Braeden Zenelovic and recovering the ball on Albany’s 10-yard line to set up the go-ahead score. Darius Wilson found Lachlan Pitts in the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown to take a 24-21 lead. Another 3-yard touchdown run by Lucas stretched the lead to 10 points before Albany kicked a field goal to bring it to a one-score game.

Late in the fourth quarter with William & Mary holding onto a seven-point lead, Albany threatened to tie it, getting down to the William & Mary 7. But on the final play of the game, a pass intended for Tyler Oedekoven was broken up by Ethan Yip.

“Our mindset changed (in the second half),” quarterback Darius Wilson said. “We came out in the first half really sluggish and we didn’t perform our best. In the second half, we had a different tenacity.”

Wilson went 14 for 19, finishing with 145 yards and a touchdown. Albany’s Joey Carino went 17 of 27 for 244 yards and a pair of touchdowns and Karl Mofor finished with 126 yards and a touchdown on 25 rushes.

As impressive as the second half was for the Tribe, the first half was one to forget as the Great Danes ran out to a 21-3 lead, dominating time of possession as they held onto the ball for over 20 minutes.

“It wasn’t (a loud halftime),” London said. “… It wasn’t as much, ‘What are we doing?’ It was, ‘Listen, we’ve got to settle down and do what we do best and play football.’”

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