The Collegian
Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Football to honor seniors at Delaware game

The football team's 12 seniors have an impressive resume: four consecutive winning seasons, two conference championships and the longest postseason run in school history.

"We wanted to leave our mark and kind of turn the program around," senior defensive lineman Lawrence Sidbury Jr. said. "That's been our mentality since day one."

Between them, they have spent a combined 61 seasons at the University of Richmond, but they will play their last regular-season home game at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, against the University of Delaware.

"This group of seniors -- the fourth-year and fifth-year seniors -- have done a tremendous job with Richmond football tradition," London said. "I know these guys take pride in playing here."

One of those seniors, defensive back Brooks York, will share the spotlight with his grandfather, former Richmond coach Jim Tait. Tait, who joined the coaching staff in 1966, was head coach from 1974 to 1979 and worked with quarterbacks and receivers from 1989 to 1998, recruited current coach Mike London and will be recognized at halftime.

"A lot of former players are going to come back and be around and share in the day," London said. "It'll be, I'm sure, emotional for him, even for me and for a lot of players who played under him but it's something that's well deserved."

The game is also significant because of the opponent; Delaware leads the series 18-6, with an 8-4 record in games played in Richmond. This season, Delaware is 4-6, with a 2-4 record in CAA play and is unranked coming into this week's game.

"Obviously everybody looks at Delaware's record," London said. "I look at a team that's very athletic on defense. ... This is a team that played for the national championship last year. Sometimes people lose sight of that."

After a 34-14 win at Hofstra University, the Spiders are No. 7 in the Sports Network rankings with a 7-3 record, 4-2 in Colonial Athletic Association games. Richmond won the last game between the two, 62-56, in five overtimes on Nov. 10, 2007, in Newark, Del.

Senior running back Josh Vaughan, who scored the game-winning touchdown during last year's game against Delaware, rushed a career-high 240 yards and scored two touchdowns during last week's game at Hofstra.

"As the offensive line goes, we go," Vaughan said. "Our offensive line has been doing a great job the last couple of weeks."

He was named the CAA Offensive Player of the Week for the second time during the last four games. Both the Sports Network and College Sporting News named him National Offensive Player of the Week.

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"He's improving every week," London said. "I hope he keeps on setting rushing records, but it's a tribute to the offensive line and his determination."

Excelling in special teams play is junior kicker Andrew Howard, who converted two field goals and four point-after-touchdown attempts last weekend and is now the school's all-time leading scorer with 239 points. His second field goal was a career-long 53 yards, the second-longest in school history behind Johnnie Jones' 56-yard field goal in 1975.

The Richmond defense is making important contributions as well, leading the CAA in scoring defense at 16.6 points per game and total defense at 269.4 yards per game. But no Richmond defender ranks in the CAA top 10 in tackles, top five in interceptions or top 10 in fumbles forced or recovered.

"It's a defense that doesn't have a whole bunch of individual superstars," London said. "The talent level is good enough where you have different players who can step up."

The defenders made a commitment to each other during training camp to play hard and Sidbury said their individual contributions didn't matter to them as long as the team won.

"People always say Delaware is a big game," Sidbury said. "We have to take care of this game if we want to think about the postseason."

The Spiders' last game of the regular season will be at the College of William & Mary on Nov. 22, but they have already clinched a winning record. It is the first time since 1937 to 1940 that the football team has had four consecutive winning seasons.

Last season, the Spiders played in the Football Championship Subdivision semifinals for the first time in school history, losing to eventual FCS champion Appalachian State University. If Richmond is one of the 16 FCS playoff teams, which it won't know until closer to the end of the regular season, it may play at least one more home game.

"If we want this thing to keep rolling and have a chance to achieve our ultimate goal, which is winning the national championship," Vaughan said, "we just have to take it one week at a time and treat every game like a playoff game."

Contact staff writer Barrett Neale at barrett.neale@richmond.edu

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