An injury-plagued University of Richmond team struggled to move the ball on offense against the defending national champion Villanova University Wildcats in a 28-7 loss on Saturday in Philadelphia, Pa.
Richmond was determined to run the ball early in the game, but had little success. The trio of Richmond tailbacks that rushed for nearly 200 yards a week ago against Towson was held to only 85 yards on a 36 carries.
Richmond's defense couldn't contain Villanova quarterback Chris Witney in the first half. He rushed for more than 100 yards during the first two quarters alone.
The Spiders were down 14-0 after the first quarter, but two key passing plays by freshman quarterback Montel White early in the second quarter put the sputtering offense back on track.
Richmond had a first and goal on Villanova's one-yard line with 12:43 left in the second quarter, but failed to score. Richmond coach Latrell Scott went for the touchdown on fourth-and-goal, but senior tailback Tyler Kirchoff was stopped for a one-yard loss on the play.
It was only the second time this year that Richmond entered the red zone and did not score a point.
Scott said that White struggled in the first half. Scott planned to work with him at half-time, but because of an eye injury to White, Scott was forced to start sophomore Nick Hicks at quarterback in the second half. It was reported that White suffered from field debris in his eye, and he watched the second half from the sidelines with a bandage over the right side of his face.
With 4:03 remaining in the third quarter, Hicks completed a pass on a fake-punt play to keep a vital drive alive. The Spiders drove to Villanova's one-yard line, but this time tailback Kendall Gaskins found a gap to make the score 21-7.
Richmond's defense held Villanova without a single first down in the third quarter, and had momentum going into the fourth quarter.
A second effort run by Kirchoff with 10:35 left in the game pushed a pile of Villanova defenders nearly seven yards down the field on third down for a first down, but on the next play the Spiders turned the ball over, their fourth turnover of the day.
Hicks threw a sideways pass that was tipped by a Villanova defender. Play stopped for a second as the teams waited for a whistle, but when none came. Villanova quickly retrieved the loose ball and returned it deep into Richmond territory.
The referees convened and ruled that the pass was thrown backwards by Hicks, a call that ended any chance of a Spider comeback.
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The Spiders, who fell to 4-4 and need to win their remaining three games to keep their playoff hopes alive, will host James Madison University at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
Contact staff writer Zak Kozuchowski at email@example.com
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