WILLIAMSBURG — Facing a potentially explosive offense, William and Mary was missing its middle linebacker and team captain. But it's hard to imagine the Tribe would have been any more dominant Saturday with Luke Rhodes on the field than it was with him on the sideline as an extra coach.
W&M held Hampton to a season-low 150 yards and kept constant heat on quarterback David Watford in a 40-7 win at sold-out Zable Stadium. Kendell Anderson rushed 191 yards and Nick Dorka tied a school record with four field goals, but it was the defense that owned this win.
"We got after them and forced the quarterback to scramble, forced him to throw it away, forced him to ground the ball," Tribe coach Jimmye Laycock said. "We got a couple of interceptions. We were very much in control defensively.
"We completely shut down their running game. We knew we could control that, so we just played to the quarterback. Our guys up front did a very fine job."
How fine? HU (4-4) averaged 1.1 yards per rushing attempt, 2.9 yards per play. Watford had his worst game as a Pirate with 11 completions in 28 attempts. He was intercepted twice, called for two intentional groundings and sacked three times.
HU had only 35 total yards at halftime. On their first 11 drives, the Pirates had six three-and-outs and one turnover.
"The offense played like it was week one," HU coach Connell Maynor said. "We made too many mistakes in the line, the quarterback made bad decisions, and we dropped some balls. We just didn't execute and the defense was on the field the whole half and got worn down.
"We were taken out to the woodshed. They gave us an old-fashioned butt-whooping."
Rhodes watched from the sideline wearing his jersey with shorts and a knee brace. During warmups, he walked around shouting encouragement to his teammates and slapping hands with whoever he saw.
"He just told us to focus," linebacker Marcus Harvey said. "That's a big piece of our defense missing. But he was still here, still leading us, still giving us our prep speech and letting us know we are the most dominant defense out there."
Hampton avoided the shutout when Watford hit T.J. Mixson for a 48-yard touchdown pass with 4:19 left in the third quarter. The seven points are HU's fewest since a 30-6 loss to South Carolina State in 2013.
Despite some early red-zone struggles, W&M (5-2) finished with a season-high 526 total yards. Quarterback Steve Cluley threw for 244 yards and a touchdown and ran his streak of attempts without an interception to 176.
The first quarter was all Dorka. With the Tribe unable to convert red-zone chances into touchdowns, Dorka kicked field goals of 37, 25 and 47 yards to make it 9-0 going into the second. This despite starting two of the three drives on HU's side of the field.
"We were sputtering around and didn't take advantage of those opportunities," Laycock said. "That can come back to get you later on, but fortunately it didn't."
In the second quarter, W&M scored touchdowns on three of its four drives and took a 30-0 lead into halftime. Anderson powered in from a yard out, DeVonte Dedmon caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from Cluley, and Mikal Abdul-Saboor scored on a 3-yard run.
"We weren't used to seeing movement as much as they do on defense," Anderson said. "Once we figured out what they were doing and got a feel for the game and how they were going to play, we took care of business like we usually do."
Because of the comfortable margin, that one drive in the second quarter in which W&M score became an amusing footnote.
With three minutes left, Anderson was approaching the end of what would have been a 74-yard touchdown run when he inexplicably dropped the ball near the 3. The ball rolled out of the end zone, resulting in a touchback.
"I thought I was in," Anderson said. "I was looking at the Jumbotron and I dropped the ball."
Johnson can be reached by phone at 757-247-4649.