Despite being noticeably less sharp on offense than last weekend, University of Richmond delivered a shutout game over Norfolk State thanks to an overwhelming defensive effort.
Richmond didn’t commit a single turnover at Virginia last week, but in the first four minutes of tonight’s game, quarterback Kyle Lauletta threw an interception. Early on, Lauletta looked flustered and rushed his passes, but came out sharper in the second half as he went on to complete 15 of 27 passes and throw for 216 yards and two touchdowns in the 34–0 win.
The main goal for Richmond this week was to maintain focus, defensive lineman Brandon Waller said.
“You can never attach any value, to last week’s performance and next week’s opponent,” Richmond coach Danny Rocco said. “This team’s a little more calm and poised. We never really panicked. I wasn’t very pleased at all with the offensive performance in the first half, but we just kind of stayed the course.”
The Spiders didn't score until a minute was left in the first quarter, when defensive back David Jones stormed past Norfolk State defenders for a 68-yard punt-return touchdown, which Rocco said he anticipated during Tuesday’s practice.
Running back Gordon Collins was helped off the field after a five-yard run in the first quarter. Collins rushed for 114 yards in the win against Virginia.
“It looks like he’s got a significant knee injury,” Rocco said. “We’ll pray for the best and hope for the best but kind of prepare for the worst outcome.” With Collins down, Rocco said that he had the ability to use quarterback David Broadus, in addition to a receiver or two, who are capable of going into the backfield.
Receiver Tyler Wilkins and defensive lineman Winston Craig made up for Collins’ absence with career nights.
Wilkins carried the Spiders offensively, catching four passes for 76 yards and a touchdown. Rocco said he was dynamic, calling him both explosive and instinctive. He ended the first half with a 32-yard touchdown catch and started the second half by fighting off one defender and weaving his way around others for a 27-yard punt return.
The next play, Lauletta led receiver Brian Brown 51 yards down the center of the field for a touchdown. Brown finished with 71 yards on four catches.
Norfolk State quarterback Greg Hankerson Jr. ran the ball better than anyone on his team, but him and his teammates had little room to run all night thanks to Craig, Waller and fellow defensive lineman Andrew Clyde. Craig tallied his third and fourth sacks of the season, already a single-season career-high.
Although tonight was advertised as a sold-out game, the upper section of the main bleachers remained mainly unfilled. However, the student section was packed with students in red, and a distinct group in blue wearing the “It ends now” shirts and raising posters throughout the entire game. Two of the signs read, “We (love) our athletes but they should also be held accountable for their actions. #whatsyourexcuse” and “My life matters just as much as those on a roster #istandwithCC.”
Rocco said that he was unaware that defensive back Jacob Roberson tucked an “It ends now” shirt into the back of his pants during warmups. “There’s a lot of things that are going on that I don’t know about,” Rocco said.
Richmond, 2–0, will play at Stony Brook next weekend.
Contact reporter Liv Healy at firstname.lastname@example.org