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No. 16 W&M can make emphatic homecoming statement when No. 6 Delaware visits

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Of William & Mary sophomore quarterback Darius Wilson, Tribe coach Mike London said, “His football acumen and IQ (have) grown over the course of the games that we’ve played.”

William & Mary, ranked No. 16 in FCS, plays Delaware, No. 6, on W&M’s 93rd homecoming Saturday. This must rank as the Tribe’s biggest game since … when these teams got together 11 months ago in Newark, Del.

W&M headed into that date with a 6-2 record (4-1 CAA), and coming off a 31-18 win at No. 4 Villanova. The Tribe climbed into the FCS poll for the first time since 2016. At that stage of the season, William & Mary’s first FCS playoff appearance since 2015 seemed very much within reach, and a CAA championship also appeared attainable.

Delaware, which was 4-4 and 2-3 in the CAA, tamed the visiting Tribe 24-3. That kicked off a W&M slide. The Tribe subsequently dropped its final two regular-season games (James Madison, Richmond) to close with a three-game losing streak and were not included in the FCS playoffs.

Prior to last November’s trip to Delaware, W&M led the CAA and ranked 13th nationally with 216.9 rushing yards per game. The Blue Hens limited the Tribe to 105 rushing yards (41 carries, 2.6 ypc).

“They out-executed us,” said W&M coach Mike London.

This season, W&M (4-1, 1-1 CAA) leads CAA Football and ranks sixth nationally with an average of 241 rushing yards. Delaware (5-0, 3-0 CAA) allows 124 rushing yards per game.

“The goal is to do what we do, and do it well,” London said. “It’s going to be a battle of the wills because we have some things we believe in that we’re going to try to do, and obviously they do as well.

“We’ll see what happens, but the challenge is presented and this is what good CAA football teams do, they play against each other, bring your strengths, here we go.”

Delaware’s visit is an opportunity for W&M to get back on track at home. The Tribe are 3-0 on the road, but dropped their last game at Zable Stadium 35-31 to Elon, which trailed 28-10 at halftime.

The development of W&M sophomore quarterback Darius Wilson will be tested by Delaware’s run defense. When the Tribe passed against the Blue Hens last season, Wilson completed 12 of 24 for 123 yards and an interception. He was sacked three times.

“His football acumen and IQ [have] grown over the course of the games that we’ve played,” London said. “He can do it with his arm or his legs.”

CAA Football has two teams that upended FBS competition this season: William & Mary (41-24 at Charlotte) and Delaware (14-7 at Navy). London recognizes the Blue Hens as “one of those tough, aggressive, power teams,” and suggested the Tribe’s ability to match that will determine this CAA showdown’s outcome.

Ryan Carty, Delaware’s first-year coach and a former player for the Blue Hens, projected the same theme, anchored by Delaware’s identity: his team has limited four of five opponents to 10 or fewer points.

“It’s going to be a great gauge of who we are as a team,” said Carty. “We’re going to go against a really good team at home on homecoming and we’re going to see what the CAA is all about here, because this is two of the better teams in it.”

joconnor@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6233

@RTDjohnoconnor

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