High-stakes matchup for Tribe Saturday vs. Towson

William and Mary will look to extend its football winning streak to six games Saturday when it hosts Towson with a chance to compete for the Colonial Athletic Association title next week at Richmond on the line for the Tribe.

A win for seventh-ranked William and Mary (7-2, 5-1 CAA) Saturday would also almost certainly give the Tribe its first Football Championship Subdivision playoff berth since 2010.

KEY MATCHUP: While William and Mary sits atop the CAA in turnover margin, Towson (6-3, 4-2) is one of the best in the league at takeaways.

The Tigers, winners of four straight, lead the league in both interception (24.5 yards) and fumble return (42.5) average.

TOWSON’S DEFENSIVE LEADER: Woodside High product Donnell Lewis, a 5-foot-10 senior cornerback. The Newport News product leads the team in tackles and pass breakups and deflections.

TOWSON’S OFFENSIVE LEADER: Darius Victor, a 5-foot-8, 227-pound junior who is averaging 81.8 yards a game despite battling an ankle injury this season.

"The guy is just built like a bowling ball, like a Maurice Jones-Drew," William and Mary running back Mikal Abdul-Saboor said. "... Just solid muscle. He's not fat. He's fast. He's a good back."

W&M DEFENSE: Stalwart linebacker Luke Rhodes has worked his way back into the lineup and so has his position mate Ian Haislip, who missed several games for the Tribe after earning a starting role at the beginning of the season. Zach Fetters, though, appears to have locked down the starting weakside job.

Now the secondary is adjusting to an injury to safety Jared Velasquez. Sophomore Mike Barta made his first career start in place of Velasquez at strong safety in the Tribe’s win last week at Elon.

“We’re not going to change our technique or make different calls,” William and Mary junior Trey Reed said of the “next man up philosophy.” “Just go out there and do your job.”

TOWSON COACH: William and Mary quarterback Steve Cluley ranks fourth in the league in pass efficiency and has thrown only two picks all season.

“Right now I think William and Mary is the most impressive, dynamic offense there is,” Towson coach Rob Ambrose said. “You find out quick in this league if you don’t have a signal caller, you don’t get that done. You have a two-headed beast at running back and a quarterback that’s effective. He’s accurate and I think he runs the offense as good or better than they’ve had anybody run it in the last five years.”

2016: William and Mary announced Friday it will open the 2016 season at N.C. State. The nonconference slate will also include Hampton and Norfolk State.

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