The Collegian
Friday, August 12, 2022

Football set for first-round playoff against E. Kentucky

The University of Richmond football team has made the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs for the third time in four years.

The Spiders, who earned an at-large bid with a 9-3 finish, will host Eastern Kentucky University at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 29. Eastern Kentucky earned an automatic bid as Ohio Valley Conference champion and has a 9-3 record. The match-up was announced during a selection show on ESPNU 7 p.m. on Sunday.

"It's a playoff game so it's a must-win situation," senior running back Josh Vaughan said. "We've had this mentality for really the whole season. The past six weeks it's been do or die."

Last year, the Spiders also faced the Colonels at home during the first round and won, 31-14. Senior defensive lineman Lawrence Sidbury Jr. said he liked playing at home because the team wouldn't have to change what it did or how it prepared.

Coach Mike London said the biggest thing the team would have to do to prepare would be to look at film of what Eastern Kentucky has done this year. This season, the players have played physical games against athletic players, and London said the team would draw on those experiences.

"There's an element of confidence that's been demonstrated through their performance," London said. "They're looking forward to this game and the challenge of this game."

The winner will advance to a quarterfinal game on Dec. 6 against the winner of the first-round game between second-seeded Appalachian State University, the three-time defending national champion, and South Carolina State University. Appalachian State is the Southern Conference champion and South Carolina State is the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference champion; both have a 10-2 overall record.

For the second-straight year, five Colonial Athletic Association teams have made the FCS playoffs. James Madison University, the CAA champions, earned the automatic bid and the No. 1 seed; Villanova University, the University of New Hampshire, Maine University and Richmond earned four of the eight at-large bids.

"I've always said the best FCS conference is the CAA," London said, adding that one or two more CAA teams had also had playoff-worthy seasons.

The other playoff teams are No. 3 Northern Iowa, No. 4 University of Montana, California Polytechnic State University, Colgate University, Southern Illinois University, Texas State University, Weber State and Wofford College. The championship game will be on Dec. 19 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Last year, the Spiders advanced to a semi-final game for the first time in school history, but lost to Appalachian State. The players in this program were accustomed to winning, London said, and would want to continue their playoff streak.

"Human nature is we're extremely happy," London said. "I'm not going to do cartwheels. I'll probably head-butt a couple players."

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