On a picturesque fall afternoon, with bright sunshine and hundreds of former players in the stands, the setting was ideal. Only one thing was missing: the win.
In the 445th and final game of his coaching career, William and Mary’s Jimmye Laycock exited with a 10-6 loss to Richmond Saturday at Zable Stadium. The Tribe reached the red zone twice and failed to cash in on either chance, which effectively summed up the day.
Laycock ended his 39-year career with 249 wins, by far the most in school history. He’s tied for 24th all-time in Division I with Lou Holtz, his former coach at W&M.
Afterwards, after he shook hands with Richmond coach and close friend Russ Huesman, Laycock received a standing ovation from the fans as he walked off the field for the final time.
“I really worked hard to not get sentimental (or) reminisce,” Laycock said. “There’s plenty of time for that. I really wanted to approach it as a game, the last game, a big game, the Richmond game. And I feel like I did.
“I didn’t start thinking about it being my last time with this or my last time with that. Except when the official told me that was my last timeout. I said, ‘Yeah, forever.’”
The final stats show two overriding reasons why Laycock wasn’t able to go out with what would have been his 250th win.
First, the Tribe was 0 for 2 in the red zone, thanks to a missed field goal and an interception. Richmond was 2 for 2. Second, a week after a plus-4 turnover margin led to a win at Villanova, W&M was minus-3 Saturday.
The Tribe (4-6, 3-4 CAA) finished with 212 total yards, 53 coming on its final possession. W&M had 15 yards on nine snaps in the third quarter.
The Tribe avoided being shut out for the third time this season when Shon Mitchell, who came off the bench, threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to DeVonte Dedmon with 47 seconds remaining in the game.
Ted Hefter started at quarterback and played until injuring his shoulder on the final play of the third quarter. He completed 9 of 16 passes for 69 yards, with an interception.
Mitchell, who had played sparingly of late because of a leg injury, came in and hit on 7 of 14 for 84 yards. He had a touchdown and a pick.
The day started promisingly for W&M. After forcing a punt, the Tribe moved from its 25-yard line to a first down at the Richmond 15. But after three plays produced nothing, Kris Hooper pushed a 32-yard field-goal attempt wide right.
“That hurt,” Laycock said. “Even if we had gotten a field goal out of that, at least we get on the board and get up early on them.
“But then, after that, we couldn’t get going on offense. That was probably a bigger play, as it turned out, than a normal missed field goal would be in a game like that.”
The Spiders responded with a marathon drive — 17 plays, 80 yards, 8:27 off the clock. Along the way, UR converted three third downs and a fake punt.
Joe Mancuso’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Caleb Drake, which Tribe cornerback Raeshawn Smith initially touched, put the Spiders up 7-0 just over four minutes into the second quarter. Griffin Trau’s 43-yard field goal with 36 seconds left in the third quarter made it a two-possession game.
At 70, and still in good health, Laycock is ready for the next chapter in his life. He’s not certain what that will entail, though golf and spoiling his two grandchildren will be a major part of it.
But he’s been coaching for nearly two-thirds of his lifetime. Old habits don’t fade away that easily.
“I’ll miss the organization part of it,” he said. “The regiment part of it. As coaches, we’re creatures of habit. I can tell you what I’m doing at 2 o’clock on Tuesday during the season.
“I’ll miss that because I won’t know what to do. Maybe I’ll figure it out. I’ll have to restructure my whole life.”
Johnson can be reached by phone at 757-247-4649. Follow him on Twitter at @DaveJohnsonDP.