Virginia dominated William & Mary early and often en route to a 52-17 victory at Scott Stadium Friday night in the first home football game of the season.
“I liked the energy and attendance I saw at Scott Stadium,” Coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “Really noticed the student section.”
The Cavaliers (2-0, 1-0 ACC) beat the Tribe (1-1, 0-0 CAA) behind a strong first half — the Cavaliers went into the break up 35-3 — and touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams.
Senior wide receiver Joe Reed contributed the special teams touchdown — returning a kickoff 100 yards — and caught 4 passes for 58 yards and a touchdown. The kickoff return was Reed’s fourth career kickoff return touchdown.
“Joe [Reed] is the best kick returner that I’ve had a chance to coach,” Mendenhall said. “Man, he’s got amazing speed and just has a knack and a great vision — he’s very dynamic. I was surprised the ball was kicked to him.”
Virginia came out of the gates with a stop. William & Mary looked frazzled by the Cavaliers’ defense as the Tribe had two penalties on their way to a three-and-out.
Senior quarterback Bryce Perkins capitalized on the quick stop by leading Virginia on a 69-yard drive punctuated by a 40-yard pass from Perkins to Reed, who hauled in the ball into the endzone.
The next drive, William & Mary marched down the field all the way to the Virginia 30 yard line, but junior cornerback Nick Grant snatched the Tribe’s momentum by taking his first career interception 85 yards into the end zone.
Virginia didn’t stop. After another William & Mary three-and-out, the Cavaliers used good field position and 18-yard outside run by junior tailback PK Kier to get the ball in the red zone. Perkins finished it off with a 7-yard touchdown run to make it 21-0 Cavaliers before the first quarter had even finished.
The second quarter started with more of the same, with another touchdown drive for Virginia. Perkins found senior transfer wide receiver Terrell Chatman for his first touchdown reception to extend Virginia’s lead to four touchdowns early in the second quarter.
William & Mary didn’t score until the 9:06 mark in the second quarter. The Tribe capitalized on a Virginia fumble on the punt to make a 40-yard field goal. Again, the Cavaliers’ defense did not make it easy — William & Mary started on the Virginia 13, and sophomore linebacker Noah Taylor’s 10-yard tackle for a loss forced the Tribe into attempting a long field goal.
Reed took the ensuing kickoff the distance — his fourth career kickoff return touchdown — to make it 35-3 Virginia.
The Cavaliers had a dominant first half but squandered two more scoring opportunities before the break. Perkins had his first interception of the season with the ball deep in William & Mary territory, and junior kicker Brian Delaney uncharacteristically missed a 30-yard field goal.
Miscues aside, Virginia completely 258 yards of total offense compared to just 49 for the Tribe. Junior linebacker Zane Zandier stood out defensively in the first half with eight tackles.
Perkins came out as quarterback for the first drive of the second half, and he led Virginia on yet another touchdown drive. Freshman running back Mike Hollins put the Cavaliers up 42-3 with a rushing touchdown on his first career carry.
Perkins threw his second interception of the night on the subsequent drive, but the defense came up strong again. William & Mary missed the 37-yard field goal to keep the deficit at 39 points.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Brennan Armstrong came in for Perkins and threw an interception on his first drive that William & Mary returned for a touchdown to make it 42-10.
He responded well, however, leading Virginia on multiple scoring drives. Armstrong finished the game 9 out of 10 with 103 yards passing.
The teams traded scores to end the game, with William & Mary going on a touchdown drive and the Cavaliers adding a field goal and another touchdown from Hollins. Hollins led all rushers with 78 yards rushing on 11 carries and had two touchdowns.
A testament to Virginia’s dominance on offense, the Cavaliers never punted the football Friday night — 1989 was the last time they went a whole game without punting the football. On the defensive end, Virginia allowed just 193 total yards.
It was a decisive victory for Virginia as the Cavaliers look ahead at a return to ACC play next weekend. They will face Florida State Sept. 14 at Scott Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.