HAMPTON (Release via William and Mary Athletics) – For nearly three full quarters Saturday afternoon, William & Mary in no way resembled a top-10 football team. Maybe it took a reminder of that to shake the cobwebs.

After Hampton University took the lead with 58 seconds remaining in the third, the No. 8/9 Tribe quickly regained it and closed out a 20-14 win at Armstrong Stadium. W&M is now 3-1 in games decided by six points or fewer, each of which came down to who controlled the fourth quarter.

Malachi Imoh’s 49-yard touchdown run with 22 seconds remaining in the third quarter turned out to be the spark W&M (8-1, 5-1 CAA) needed.

“When they went up, it was more of an in-your-face kind of deal,” right tackle Colby Sorsdal said. “It was, ‘OK, this is our game. We can take control of this.’ So I looked at Malachi and said, ‘Let’s go do it. Work your magic.’

“And he did. I was really happy to see that.”

As was everyone associated with William & Mary football. Hampton (4-5, 1-5) put up tough fight, both offensively by averaging 6.9 yards a play and defensively by holding W&M to its fewest points of the season.

Now 5-0 on the road for the first time program history, W&M further strengthened its playoff resume. The Tribe has eight regular-season wins for the first time since the 2015 season.

W&M was imperfect with two turnovers, including a fumble in the red zone, but got the win by finishing strong. In the final 15 minutes, the Tribe controlled time of possession (9:50 to 5:10) and gave up only two first downs.

It was the sixth time this season William & Mary pitched a shutout in the fourth quarter.

“It wasn’t going our way, so we had to find ways to adjust,” cornerback Ryan Poole said. “In the fourth quarter, we knew we had to bite down and make something happen. And we were able to do that. A testament to the team that we were able to be resilient.”

The Tribe piled up 423 total yards, 189 of that coming in the final 15:58. W&M rushed for 309 yards, the third consecutive week (and fourth time this season) it had at least 300 on the ground.

Bronson Yoder rushed for 115 yards (81 of that coming in the second half) on 16 carries with a touchdown. Imoh ran for 93 yards (60 coming on two carries) on 10 attempts, and Donavyn Lester added 80 on 10.

It wasn’t always pretty, but it was enough.

“We didn’t particularly play well, but at the same time, they were playing better than us,” W&M coach Mike London said. “It took us a while to get going. At halftime, they led us in every (statistical) category. When we came out in the second half, we did a much better job executing and got some explosive plays.”

Defensively, the Tribe had trouble containing Jadakis Bonds, HU’s 6-foot-4 wideout, who had four catches for 92 yards. HU rushed for 210 yards, 41 coming on a pair of touchdowns.

But those touchdowns were the only points W&M’s defense allowed.

“Defensively, we came out a little slow,” Poole said. “The game was a little sluggish, (so) we had to adjust and adapt. And we did that.”

William & Mary opened the game with one of its most efficient drives of the season, which covered 74 yards on 10 plays — six runs, four passes. The Tribe converted a third-and-11 and a third-and-2 and took a 7-0 lead on Yoder’s 9-yard touchdown run.

But in its next seven possessions, W&M added only a field goal, which made it 10-7 with 4:49 remaining in the first half. Hampton took its only lead on a 23-yard touchdown by Darran Butts to make it 14-10 with 58 seconds left in the third quarter.

It turned out to be a quick lead.

First, JT Mayo returned a short kickoff 21 yards to the 40. Imoh then carried on two consecutive snaps — 11 yards for a first down, and 49 yards for a touchdown. Drive time: 36 seconds.

Hampton had a chance to tie on its next possession, but Axel Perez’s 37-yard field goal attempt was wide right. W&M ran its way to the red zone, but an illegal block set it behind the chains. Ethan Chang’s 35-yard field goal doubled the Tribe’s lead to 20-14 with 7:17 left.

The win concluded a trying week for London, whose father, Wilson, underwent emergency surgery on Wednesday.

“The odds were 50-50 whether he’d get off the table alive,” London said. “He came out of the surgery well (and) he’s here with us. It’s been a heavy week.

“We won the game today, so we celebrated today. I’m celebrating life, too, as we did on Wednesday after the surgery. Yes, things can get better. But I’ll tell you what: Things are a whole lot better because he’s here and we got the W today.”

Notes
Yoder has rushed for at least 100 yards eight times in his career, which places him 10th on the Tribe’s all-time list. He has 853 yards and eight touchdowns with three games left in the regular season. …

Imoh scored his 10th touchdown Saturday, the most by a W&M running back since Kendell Anderson’s 16 in 2015. He’s averaging 8.4 yards per rushing attempt,

Will Whitehurst had a career-long 70-yard punt in the first quarter. That might be the longest in school history since David Miller’s 71-yarder against Rhode Island in 2009.

Next up
The Tribe will return to Zable to host Villanova (5-4, 3-3), which lost 27-3 at Towson on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.