The Collegian
Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Kamin OT field goal lifts UR over JMU in Laub's return

It seems to be a mandate whenever the University of Richmond plays James Madison University: There must be late-game heroics. And Saturday evening's game between those two schools not only met that mandate, it exceeded the mandate.

Kicker Wil Kamin made a 20-yard field goal in overtime to give the Spiders a 13-10 win and keep their playoff hopes alive. Kamin's kick wasn't pretty — it looked reminiscent of Andrew Howard's miss at the end of a game against Villanova University last year — but it made it just inside the left upright.

After the kick, Kamin ran away from his rushing teammates and jumped into the stands to celebrate the win with the Richmond fans.

"I was really just running away from the team because I'm claustrophobic and I was not going to get on the bottom of one of those piles," Kamin said.

Richmond improved to 5-4 on the season and 10-1 all time in overtime games. One of those wins came earlier this season, with a 27-21 victory over Elon in the Robins Stadium opener.

Kamin had called a time out right before the kick as he saw the play clock was close to zero. It's usually an opposing coach who calls a time out right before a late-game kick to try to freeze the kicker. But Kamin said that the time out actually helped him prepare for the kick.

"Thirty seconds isn't that big of a deal," Kamin said. "I kind of liked it, got to clear my head."

The Dukes got the ball first in overtime, but could not score. Senior quarterback Drew Dudzik took the Dukes out of field goal range by scrambling backward on a third-and-16 and getting tripped up by senior linebacker Tyler Sullivan at the Richmond 45-yard line.

"I actually thought I missed the tackle," Sullivan said. "But I saw him fall down and I forgot we still had another down to play and ran off the field celebrating. But it was one of those plays [when] you just have to keep on fighting."

Out of field goal range, JMU was forced to go for the first down on the fourth-and-30. After calling a time out to set up a play, Dudzik threw the ball to wide receiver Kirby Long who lateraled the ball to fellow receiver Dae'Quan Scott. Scott attempted another lateral as he was being tackled and got the ball to another JMU player but the referees ruled that Scott's knee was down and therefore the play over.

Richmond's offense was boosted by the returns of quarterback John Laub and wide receiver Donte Boston. Both were injured during the game against Elon on Sept. 18, with suffering a broken wrist and Boston suffering a broken rib.

Laub was limited early on, throwing the ball five times, four of which were on third downs. But Laub showed why he was battling Aaron Corp for the starting quarterback job in the preseason with a 41-yard touchdown throw to Tre Gray to tie the game, 7-7, during the second quarter.

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It wasn't all good for Laub though. He threw two interceptions during the fourth quarter, the second of which was with 38 seconds remaining in the game at the JMU 37-yard line.

"I think I need to do a better job of protecting the ball," Laub said. "I forced some throws."

Despite those two interceptions, Richmond coach Latrell Scott was pleased with Laub's performance. Laub finished the game 15-29 for 176 yards. His stats could have been better as he overthrew his deep receivers three times by a step.

"John's a little rusty but he gave us the ability to do some things we haven't been able to do the last couple of weeks," Scott said. "He made some big throws but we have to clean some things up."

Richmond trailed James Madison 10-7 headed into halftime, but tied the game on its first possession of the second half. The Spiders drove to the JMU 2-yard line and ran three-straight runs up the middle. However, an offside penalty on JMU gave Richmond one last chance to score a touchdown from the JMU 1-yard line but sophomore tailback Kendall Gaskins was tackled for no gain.

Facing a fourth-and-goal and being one yard away from taking its first lead of the game, the Spider offense lined up to try to force its way into the endzone. But Scott called a time out and sent out Kamin to tie the game.

"Just had to reevaluate," Scott said. "Obviously your ego makes you want to punch it in but in that situation you have to take the points."

Based on the Richmond rushing stats, Scott made the right decision. The Spiders were limited to 85 yards on 33 attempts.

James Madison started the game strong, but its offense did little else after the first quarter. Its first drive was stopped when junior safety Colin Pehanick intercepted Dudzik's pass after it had gained a pair of first downs.

JMU scored later that quarter when tailback Jamal Sullivan rushed for a 12-yard touchdown. Earlier in the drive, he broke a 53-yard run on a third down.

That touchdown allowed for senior Justin Rogers to make history. He took the ensuing kickoff 27 yards, giving him the four yards he needed to break former Villanova tailback Brian Westbrook's Colonial Athletic Association record for kickoff return yards.

The win keeps Richmond in the race for its fourth-straight playoff berth. Both teams entered the game at 4-4, but headed in opposite directions. The Spiders have now won three out of their last four games and the Dukes lost their last four and five out of six, all in CAA play.

Richmond now has two games remaining in the regular season, both against CAA teams. Next week, the University of Rhode Island visits Robins Stadium in Richmond's last home game of the year. Richmond's season ends when it travels to play the College of William & Mary.

Contact staff writer Andrew Prezioso at andrew.prezioso@richmond.edu

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