Big third quarter leads W&M to a win over Bucknell

With its most complete performance of the young season, William and Mary turned a one-point halftime lead into a 30-9 win over Bucknell Saturday night at Zable Stadium.

Leading 10-9 at halftime, the Tribe (2-1) broke the game open with a 20-point third quarter in which it outgained the Bison 115 yards to 12. W&M also got a touchdown from its defense with cornerback Corey Parker’s scoop-and-score.

True freshman running back Nate Evans rushed for 89 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Quarterback Tommy McKee completed 12 of 17 passes for 105 yards and a score.

Defensively, the Tribe held Bucknell to 42 yards after halftime. W&M had six quarterback sacks by six players. That brings the Tribe’s three-game total to 14, four more than the entire 2016 season.

“Glad we got the win,” W&M coach Jimmye Laycock said. “We came back in the second half and certainly the defense really stepped up and did a really good job there. Offensively, you know, (was) sporadic.

“I’m still not pleased with the overall performance offensively. But defensively, we made some things happen. Bucknell’s a good, solid team, and for us to come out there with things not going real well and win was good.”

Leading by one at the break, William and Mary (2-1) went three-and-out on its first possession of the third quarter. But after forcing a punt, the Tribe went ahead 16-9 on redshirt freshman Noah Giles’ 15-yard touchdown run. The PAT try was blocked.

On its next possession, Bucknell faced third-and-6 from its 24-yard line. Quarterback Matt Muh was sacked by linebacker Nate Atkins, who stripped the ball in the process. Parker recovered and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown, making it 23-9 with 7:26 left in the third.

William and Mary added to its lead on a 4-yard touchdown pass from McKee to fullback Tyler Crist to give the Tribe a 30-9 lead with 44 seconds left in the quarter. It was the second touchdown in two weeks for Crist, a redshirt freshman from Kecoughtan High.

Bucknell (1-2) went three-and-out on six consecutive possessions in the second half. The Bison picked up 25 of its 42 second-half yards on their final possession.

W&M had four of its six sacks in the second half.

“We went in at halftime, and we weren’t satisfied giving up nine points,” defensive end Matt Ahola said. “We hold ourselves to an extremely high standard on the defensive side of the ball. We got challenged by Coach Laycock and our defensive staff that it’s on the D-line.

“So we really let it loose. When it got to third-and-long, we got into pass-rush mentality and really got after it.”

Offensively, W&M was efficient with 281 total yards (176 rushing, 105 passing) and no turnovers. And for the first time this season, McKee wasn’t the Tribe’s leading rusher.

Evans, who a year ago was playing at Lee-Davis High in Mechanicsville, got four late carries in last week’s win at Norfolk State. But he was the second back in Saturday night and gained 34 yards on his second attempt.

“He’s a dynamic player,” McKee said. “He’s not the biggest player (at 5-foot-10, 190 pounds), but he’s shifty and can make guys miss. He does have power for the frame he has, and he’s definitely falling forward.

“It’s definitely impressive to see a freshman step in and play this well. But I really think all three of our backs played well tonight. They all ran really hard and were carrying guys with them.”

Jaret Anderson rushed for 33 yards on four carries, and Noah Giles had 31 on eight, with a touchdown.

Johnson can be reached by phone at 757-247-4649. Follow him on Twitter at @DaveJohnsonDP.

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