The University of Richmond football team took advantage of seven turnovers by the University of Massachusetts on the way to its seventh win of the season, beating the Minutemen 34-12 on a rainy Saturday afternoon at UR Stadium.
"It's hard to win football games and these guys played their hearts out," Richmond head coach Mike London said. "We're going to celebrate this win because it's an accomplishment."
UMass scored the first three points of the game, but Richmond responded by scoring the next 27. UMass junior quarterback Kyle Havens threw four interceptions and his replacement, senior Scott Woodward, threw two. Havens also lost a fumble on a bad snap.
"We practice ball disruption drills all the time," London said. "When you take the ball away, you add to your possessions offensively. ... These guys hunt the ball."
Richmond did most of its damage with the running game. Senior tailback Justin Forte carried the ball a career-high 26 times for 118 yards and two touchdowns. Senior quarterback Eric Ward also carried for 62 yards on 9 carries.
"I just like to run the ball, period," Forte said. "Whatever the game plan is, I'm game to do it."
The weather during the game varied greatly, from mixed sunshine before kickoff to torrential downpours. After a few minutes of hard rain in the first quarter, the field remained wet for the rest of the game.
"As long as it rained on both sides, both teams are obligated to handle the ball and execute the plays," London said. "We managed to not let our situations affect us as much as theirs."
Richmond senior safety Derek Hatcher, who had one of the Spiders' six intereceptions, said the team had gameplanned well, which allowed them to be successful on defense.
"Our coaches prepared us well all week," Hatcher said. "All the routes we saw today we had practiced against all week. All we had to do was execute and do what we needed to do."
After UMass's field goal on its opening drive, Richmond scored two touchdowns and made two field goals before the end of the first half. Junior fullback Ben Keating scored from 1-yard out for Richmond's first touchdown and Forte scored on a 17-yard run for the second.
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The Spiders also scored first during the second half, when Parker Miles intercepted a pass for the second week in a row, but this time successfully returned it 15 yards for a touchdown. Last week at the University of Maine, Miles intercepted a ball in a similar part of the field, but was tackled before reaching the end zone.
"I got a lot of grief from my friends and coaches about not being able to get in [last week]," Miles said. "I told them I'd get in this time. ... It was great feeling. I really, honestly didn't even know what to do."
In addition to Hatcher and Miles, junior cornerback Justin Rogers, senior linebacker Collin McConaghy, junior linebacker Patrick Weldon and senior safety Michael Ireland had interceptions for the Spiders. Rogers also recovered the fumble for Richmond.
Ward only passed for 52 yards during the game, compared with 215 by UMass, but London said his quarterback had had a big impact on the game anyway.
"If you look at the stats and you see the runs and throws," London said, "if you didn't see the game and the significance of some of his third-down runs, then you wouldn't have the appreciation of him managing the game and playing well."
Even in the bad weather, Richmond took advantage of the good field position created by the turnovers to score more than 31 points at home for the 15th-straight time.
The Spiders are now 7-0 this season, which matches the best start in school history, and 5-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association. UMass is now 4-3 this year and 2-2 in the CAA.
Richmond will have a chance to extend its school-record winning streak to 17 games at 1 p.m. next Saturday, when it travels to Towson, Md., to face Towson University in a CAA South match-up.
Contact staff writer Reilly Moore at email@example.com
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