By Tommy Keeler Jr.
HARRISONBURG -- Jimmye Laycock decided to gamble, and it didn't pay off.
The William and Mary coach chose to go for a two-point conversion after scoring a touchdown in the second overtime against JMU on Saturday. William and Mary's Tre McBride had been out-jumping the Dukes all day, but the Dukes were finally able to knock the ball away to pull out the 27-26 double-overtime win in CAA action.
"It was a situation where we had gone back and forth in the overtime and our defense had been out there so much," Laycock said of his decision to go for the two-point conversion. "And if we kick the extra point they're going to have to go back out there again and play defense. It was kind of a gut feeling. And I thought we had it, but we just didn't get it."
The Dukes (5-1, 3-0 CAA) scored first in the second overtime. They needed only four plays on the possession. JMU quarterback Justin Thorpe ran for five yards. He then completed back-to-back passes to Quintin Hunter and Brian Barlow to move the ball to the William and Mary 3. Dae Quan Scott scored on a 3-yard touchdown run and kicker Cameron Starke's extra point gave JMU a 27-20 lead.
The Tribe (2-5, 1-3) came right back using four plays to score. Ortiz connected with McBride on a 7-yard touchdown pass to pull within 27-26.
On the two-point conversion, Ortiz scrambled around, before lofting a pass into the end zone where JMU's Dean Marlowe and Jakarie Jackson were there to knock it down.
"I was moving around in the pocket, so maybe one of their guys would shift and leave one of our guys open," Ortiz said. "Everybody was down there. I just threw it up for someone to make a play on it."
McBride finished with seven receptions for 72 yards, and many of them were balls that were thrown up for grabs just like the final play.
"It was very frustrating for our defensive coaches that we could not knock the ball away," JMU coach Mickey Matthews said of defending McBride. "We finally did it one time the last play of the game, other than that we didn't do it the whole game."
It was a fitting end to a wild game.
The Dukes trailed 14-0 in the second quarter, rallied to take the lead in the third quarter. However, the Tribe responded and looked like they were going to pull off the upset in the final seconds of regulation. William and Mary kicker Drake Kuhn missed a 31-yard field goal with one second left in regulation sending the game to overtime.
JMU led 17-14 going into the fourth quarter. The Tribe tied it on their first possession of the quarter. They moved the ball 52 yards on 11 plays, and settled for a 39-yard field goal with 7:52 left in the game.
The Dukes had forced five consecutive three-and-outs before the game-tying field goal.
"We got things going," Laycock said. "We made a couple runs. We started running the football a little better. We started stringing together some runs and we got moving."
JMU only made one first down on its next possession. The Tribe then put together one of their best drives of the game.
They used 13 plays and went 73 yards. The Tribe moved the ball to the JMU 23 with 52 seconds left. Facing a third-and-9, the Tribe were called for having too many men in the huddle moving the ball back to the 28. Ortiz then completed a 15-yard pass to Nolan Kearney to the JMU 13.
One play later, Kuhn came on for the 31-yard attempt that missed wide left. Laycock said Kuhn, who also missed from 43 yards earlier in the game, was not 100 percent, but he would not say what his injury was.
"I thought he would make that field goal," Laycock said. "I didn't have any reservations whatsoever, especially when we got the first down there. I thought he would make that one -- he didn't."
William and Mary got the ball first in the first overtime. The Tribe moved the ball to the JMU 13. On second-and-9 from the JMU 13, McBride was called for offensive pass interference which pushed the ball back to the 28.
"I thought it was pretty clean," McBride said. "It was a blown coverage. He wasn't even covering me. I think that's just some factors that you gotta deal with being at somebody else's home."
The Tribe were able to pick up seven yards on the next two plays to set-up a 38-yard field goal by Kuhn to take a 20-17 lead.
The Dukes looked like they might win the game in the first overtime, as they moved the ball to the William and Mary 1. However, they were stopped on consecutive plays, and Matthews decided to kick the field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 1.
Despite the loss, Laycock was very happy with his team's performance.
"To come up and play the No. 4 [ranked] team at their place and their crowd," Laycock said. "For us to battle like we did I think our guys deserve a heck of a lot of credit."
Even though the Dukes didn't play as well as he would have liked, Matthews was very happy to come out on top and remain undefeated in the CAA.
"We played someone who was 10 out of 19 third down conversions," Matthews said. "They didn't turn the ball over. They basically got one penalty the whole game, so I'm very happy to get the win. When you miss a short field goal in the clutch you're probably going to get beat. That was probably the only thing they did wrong the whole game."
Contact Tommy Keeler Jr. at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org