In a game decided by one point, it was Peter Yoder's leg that made the difference.
With more than 12 minutes left in the first quarter, Yoder hit the crossbar from 48 yards out, missing out on Richmond's first chance for points. Three quarters later, with five minutes left in the game, his extra point attempt was blocked, which would have given the Spiders a seven-point lead. On that same play, Yoder injured his leg pursuing the Villanova defender who caught the blocked kick. Villanova scored a touchdown in the final minute and made its extra point, leading to a 21-20 win for the Wildcats.
Richmond seemed to be close to potential field goal range in the final seconds, but Yoder's injury forced the Spiders to have to earn more yards than they typically would have.
The blame really can't be placed on Yoder, though. Sure, he has proven his ability to make long field goals, but hitting the crossbar from 48 yards on a fairly windy night is excusable. And his extra point was blocked. I haven't seen a replay, but blocks aren't typically the kicker's fault, especially on extra points.
Other mistakes contributed to Richmond's loss too. Two fumbles and an interception stand out, especially since two of those turnovers occurred inside Villanova's 10-yard line. In the end, Richmond squandered opportunities in a tough road game and made more mistakes than are forgivable in road CAA games in November.
The Spiders will have positives and negatives to point to in the film room following this loss. Jacobi Green and Brian Brown continued to produce quality offense. Green finished with 135 yards and two touchdowns, while Brown caught five passes for 95 yards.
Kyle Lauletta's last few games may be cause for concern for Richmond, though. He's suddenly been hit by the turnover bug, throwing eight interceptions in his last three games. That's been the easiest reason to point to when trying to explain the Spiders' sudden struggles after looking so formidable in a win at James Madison three weeks ago.
After this loss, Richmond is in what appears to be a must-win game against William and Mary next weekend. The Spiders fell from first to third in the CAA, now trailing the Tribe and James Madison. With a win next week, Richmond would hold a tie-breaker against both teams and have the same conference record--if JMU wins next week--as both those teams would. They would hold at least a share of the conference championship and if Villanova wins again next week, they'd share it as well.
Yoder's status may be an issue for the Spiders, considering he gives them a scoring range and confidence that most teams don't have in their kicking games. If he can't play, redshirt freshman Griffin Trau would likely handle the kicking duties.
Richmond will take the field at 12 p.m. next Saturday in the Capital Cup against William and Mary in a game that should decide the conference championship and have major playoff implications.
Contact sports editor Charlie Broaddus at firstname.lastname@example.org