By Paul White
8:52 PM EST, November 17, 2012
WILLIAMSBURG — They made a lot of things interesting. But as has been the case all too often this season, William and Mary's Tribe couldn't quite make enough things happen.
As a result, a disappointing season ended on a familiar note, as the Tribe fell to Richmond 21-14 in the season finale at Zable Stadium.
Kendall Gaskins caught one touchdown and ran for another for the Spiders (8-3, 6-2), who strengthened their case for an FCS playoff bid.
The Tribe, meanwhile, fell to 2-9, 1-7 in the CAA after yet another game in which they flirted with victory, only to be undone by crucial mistakes.
"Just a couple plays here and there," said Tribe running back Meltoya Jones, who ran for 79 yards and gained 47 more on 6 receptions.
The "couple plays" that cost the Tribe greatly this time were a Keith McBridge fourth-down run from the Richmond's half-yard line that was stuffed for no gain, and punter Drake Kuhn's inability to catch a long snap in his own end zone. The Spiders recovered the ball and seized a 14-0 second-quarter lead.
"You've got to be able to get a half yard at the goal line, and you have to be able to catch the ball and punt it away," Tribe coach Jimmye Laycock said. "Those two plays really cost us."
The Tribe trailed 21-7 in the fourth quarter and, with their offense stuck in neutral, seemed like a beaten team.But for all the Tribe's struggles this season, though, the one thing they can never be accused of is giving up.
An interception off a tipped ball by the Tribe's Jerome Couplin seemed to energize the home team. Six plays later, Tribe quarterback Michael Graham connected with Bo Revell for a 20-yard touchdown pass to pull the Tribe within seven.
The Spiders even helped William and Mary's cause a bit. A 56-yard return on the ensuing kickoff was wiped out when three different Richmond players were flagged for illegal blocks in the back. And after the Tribe held Richmond on downs, William and Mary picked up an extra 10 yards on another illegal block on the punt return.
"We believed we were going to win the game," Jones said. "No doubt in our minds."
Graham then drove the Spiders to the Richmond 11. From there, however, three straight plays netted no yards. And on fourth down with 1:38 remaining, Graham's pass tipped off the hands Sean Ballard at the front of the end zone.
"We played really hard, no question about that," Laycock said. "But you've got to be able to finish it off."
Ballard caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Graham to account for the other touchdown for William and Mary, a score that brought the Tribe to within 14-7 late in the second quarter. But Richmond responded with a 9-play, 50-yard scoring drive in less than two minutes. Michael Strauss' 7-yard TD pass to Gaskins with 20 seconds left sent the Spiders into intermission with a 21-7 lead.
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