William & Mary’s rally falls short against Maine at home

Posted at 10:12 PM, Oct 29, 2016
Maine's Micah Wright returns a punt 67 yards for a touchdown.

Maine’s Micah Wright returns a punt 67 yards for a touchdown.

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – The William & Mary football team nearly rallied back from a 21-point deficit but ultimately fell to Maine, 35-28, at Zable Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Despite trailing 28-7 late in the first half, W&M (3-5, 1-4) narrowed the margin to just a touchdown on multiple occasions during the final 30 minutes but was unable to mount the comeback. The Tribe posted a pair of scoring opportunities during the fourth quarter with drives that ended near the red zone, but both stalled with fumbles.

In addition to outgaining Maine, 469-466, the Tribe’s defense allowed just 128 total yards in the second half and did not allow an offensive touchdown in the final 30 minutes.

Senior running back Kendell Anderson led the Tribe with his fourth-consecutive 100-yard effort and rushed for 151 yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns. Cluley also accounted for a pair of touchdowns (one passing / one rushing) and completed 26 of 45 passes for 285 yards.

Maine (5-3, 4-1), which extended its winning streak to five games, jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Dan Collins to Micah Wright and a 1-yard run by Zaire Williams.

Although W&M cut the deficit in half with an 18-yard touchdown pass from Cluley to junior wideout DeVonte Dedmon early in the second quarter, Maine answered with a pair of scores – a 4-yard touchdown run by Josh Mack and a 15-yard touchdown pass from Collins to Earnes Edwards – to build its biggest lead of the game, 28-7, with 5:22 remaining in the half.

The Tribe fought back with a pair of touchdown runs by Anderson – one on a 23-yard scamper with 2:49 left in the first half and another on a 2-yard run to cap off the opening drive of the second half. Cluley efficiently engineered both touchdown drives, as he completed 7 of 8 passes for 69 yards – which included a pivotal fourth-and-4 conversion from UM’s 37 with an 11-yard strike to junior wideout Daniel Kuzjak. Anderson also powered the ground attack on the two scoring drives with 60 yards on six carries.

Maine’s lone score of the second half came on a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown by Wright midway through the third quarter.

W&M answered the special teams score with a 4-yard touchdown run by Cluley with 2:01 left in the third quarter. Anderson set up the score on the previous play with a 43-yard scamper.

After stopping the Black Bears on a fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line early in the fourth quarter, the Tribe marched deep into UM territory on the following drive but Anderson lost a fumble at the 24-yard line.

W&M had a final opportunity in the waning minutes, but junior tight end Andrew Caskin lost a fumble at Maine’s 20-yard line with 0:39 remaining.

UM was led by Collins, who completed 19-of-33 passes for 280 yards with two touchdowns.

Junior cornerback Aaron Swinton provided one of W&M’s defensive highlights with an interception in the first quarter, which was his third pick in the last two games.

The Tribe will return to action when it plays at No. 22/20 Stony Brook next Saturday.