Williamsburg, VA (WWBT)- Senior All-American running back Jonathan Grimes rushed for 137 yards with two touchdowns, and the William and Mary defense allowed just 80 yards in the second half as the Tribe earned a 20-16 victory at Villanova on Saturday afternoon.
The victory was the 89th conference win for head coach Jimmye Laycock, which ties for the third most triumphs in league history with former Delaware head coach Tubby Raymond.
With the 137-yard performance, Grimes moved into second on W&M's career rushing list with 3,552 yards and now only trails former Tribe great Derek Fitzgerald (3,744). The Palmyra, N.J., native also registered 87 kickoff return yards and became the program's all-time record holder (1,798), eclipsing the previous mark of 1,772 established by Komlan Lonergan.
In addition to holding Villanova to just 80 yards in the second half, the Tribe outgained the Wildcats 344-200. W&M also held VU to just 10 first downs and controlled the time of possession by more than 10 minutes.
Senior wide receiver D.J. Mangas totaled five catches for 67 yards, while senior tight end Alex Gottlieb hauled in four catches for 81 yards, including a 30-yard reception on a fourth-and-one in the third quarter.
Defensively, junior linebacker Jabrel Mines registered eight tackles with a pair of sacks and a forced fumble, while junior Brian Thompson, a starting safety who made is first career start at linebacker, finished with eight tackles (all solo) and a sack. Junior cornerback B.W. Webb tallied the 11th interception of his career and is now tied for eighth on W&M's all-time list.
After both teams punted on their opening possession, Villanova got on the scoreboard first when Mark Hamilton kicked a 25-yard field goal midway through the first quarter. The 10-play drive covered just 35 yards, as the Wildcats' took over at the W&M 43-yard line following a short punt.
The Tribe answered with a touchdown on its next drive, as Grimes scored on a run from a yard out on a fourth-and-goal with 2:17 remaining in the first quarter. A 31-yard kickoff return by Grimes gave W&M starting field position at its own 47-yard line, while the senior running back also rushed for 31 yards on seven carries on the touchdown drive.
VU reclaimed the lead, 10-7, on a 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Chris Culicerto to Dorian Wells with 11:44 left in the second quarter. The quick four-play, 57-yard drive lasted just 1:40.
A 22-yard touchdown scamper by Grimes, his second of the half, gave the Tribe a 14-10 lead with 5:49 remaining in the second quarter. Sophomore quarterback Michael Graham engineered the 10-play, 75-yard drive, as he went 4-of-4 passing for 34 yards.
After Villanova's Joey Harmon intercepted Graham on a ball tipped at the line of scrimmage to give the Wildcats starting field position at W&M's 24-yard line, Hamilton kicked a career-long 45-yard field goal four plays later to narrow the margin to 14-13 with 1:49 remaining in the half
W&M outgained Villanova, 153-120, in the opening half and was led by Grimes, who totaled 79 rushing yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns.
After holding the Tribe to a three-and-out on the opening possession of the second half, Villanova took over at W&M's 10-yard line when sophomore punter Drake Kuhn was unable to get a punt away. Although W&M kept VU out of the end zone, a 25-yard field goal by Hamilton gave the Wildcats a 16-14 advantage.
The College responded with a 34-yard field goal by Kuhn on its next possession to take a 17-16 edge. The nine-play, 53-yard drive was highlighted by a 25-yard completion from Graham to Gottlieb.
A 23-yard field goal by Kuhn with 14:24 remaining extended the Tribe's lead to 20-16 and capped off a 15-play, 72-yard drive that lasted 7:16. W&M converted a pair of fourth-and-one situations near midfield, including a 30-yard completion from Graham to Gottlieb on a play-action pass that moved the Tribe into the red zone.
Villanova threatened to score late and drove to W&M's 23-yard line with less than four minutes remaining, but Webb intercepted Culicerto on a fourth-and-two to halt the drive.
W&M then ran out the clock, as Graham completed a 29-yard pass to Mangas on a third-and-five and Grimes converted a fourth-and-one with a 16-yard run. It was W&M's fourth fourth-down conversion of the afternoon.
The Tribe will be on the road again next weekend when it plays at Delaware.