The University of Richmond football seniors earned this win.
The Richmond defense kept the Spiders' playoff hopes alive as the Spiders defeated Colonial Athletic Association foe, the University of Rhode Island Rams, 15-6 in a key conference matchup on Saturday Nov. 13.
The defense, led by senior linebackers Eric McBride and Patrick Weldon, who combined for 31 tackles and three interceptions, forced Rhode Island quarterback Steve Probst to throw four interceptions and a fumble.
But the Rams' defense also plagued Richmond sophomore quarterback John Laub. Laub went 6-20 for 146 yards, including a 77-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Donte Boston in the fourth quarter, but he also threw four interceptions and fumbled once.
Despite the sloppy offensive plays for both teams, the Spiders scored first late in the first quarter off of sophomore kicker Wil Kamin's 29-yard field goal. Kamin went 1-2 on field goal attempts today, but he is now 9-10 in career attempts.
The first quarter ended with the Spiders up by three, but Rhode Island started the second quarter with a 62-yard scoring drive, capped off by running back Anthony Ferrer's one-yard touchdown run. Rams' kicker Louis Feinstein's point-after attempt failed and the Rams led the Spiders 6-3 for the remainder of the first half.
The Spiders opened the second half with Laub's fourth interception of the game, which took the Rams to the Richmond 40-yard-line. But the Rhode Island offense committed two costly penalties during its drive. After Probst's pass to Ferrer from Richmond's 9-yard-line was complete, taking Rhode Island to the Richmond 4-yard-line, an offensive pass interference penalty took them back to the Richmond 24-yard-line.
Another penalty, this time a delay of game penalty, brought them back to Richmond's 27-yard-line. Feinstein attempted a 44-yard-field goal which failed, turning the ball over to the Spiders at their own 28-yard-line with nine minutes remaining in the third quarter.
After scoreless series from both teams, the spark of the Richmond defense ignited. Senior captain and defensive tackle Martin Parker sacked Probst for a loss of 12 yards, forcing him to fumble, and Richmond junior defensive tackle Chris Shields recovered the ball at the Rhode Island 18-yard-line.
The Richmond drive stayed stagnant with no first-down conversions. Kamin's 35-yard field goal attempt with 1:24 left in the third quarter failed, leaving a scoreless quarter for both teams.
Three series passed without any results until Laub and the Richmond offense started its second series of the fourth quarter at the Richmond 23-yard-line with 7:03 left in the game. Laub threw a deep ball to junior wide receiver Donte Boston for a 77-yard touchdown pass. Kamin's kick was blocked by Rhode Island defensive tackle Willie McGinnis, but the Spiders led for the second time, this time 9-6.
The Rams tried to answer with their next series, but redshirt freshman defensive end Kerry Wynn and sophomore linebacker Darius McMillan sacked Probst for a loss of six. Rhode Island could not recover from the stop on first down, and punted to Richmond, who took over on their own 20-yard-line with 3:11 remaining in the game.
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Senior running back Tyler Kirchoff sealed the game when he burst through the line for a 50-yard rush to the Rhode Island two-yard-line, setting up sophomore running back Kendall Gaskins for a two-yard rushing touchdown. Kamin's kick was blocked again, this time by Rhode Island defensive end Victor Adesanya.
Rhode Island's desperate last-minute attempt to score was thwarted when Weldon made his second interception of the game at Richmond 21-yard-line. The Richmond offense took a knee to end the game, Richmond winning 15-6.
Rhode Island head coach Joe Trainer said that he knew his team would have to play extremely well to beat Richmond today.
"I think we matched [Richmond] play-for-play, but we made too many turnovers to beat a quality team like that at home," he said.
Trainer also said that the Richmond special teams and the defense helped defeat his squad.
"They have a very good defense, one of the best in our conference," he said.
Richmond head coach Latrell Scott said that though the win was not pretty, his team would take it.
"You never apologize for a victory," he said. "We have to credit our defense for playing tough and keeping us in there until the offense was able to make some plays in the second half."
Scott said that two good defenses and a bit of lack of execution on offense resulted in a total of 12 turnovers for both teams.
Scott also said he had total confidence in Laub during the touchdown pass to Boston.
Laub said that he forced a few passes earlier in the game, but he said he continued to try to move the ball down the field.
McBride said the defensive unit took a lot of pride in their mantra that they could stop everybody.
"We did what we expect of ourselves on defense," he said.
McBride said that though this was an emotional game because of Senior Day, all of that was blocked out of their minds when the play clock started.
McBride also said that with this win today, the team moves closer for a chance to play in the Football Championship Series (FCS) playoffs.
Scott said that the playoffs are now a realistic goal for the team.
"We told the guys on the way back from New Hampshire that not a lot of people would believe in the team," he said. "But even after a tough loss, this team has been able to bounce back."
Scott also said that he believes the CAA is the best conference in FCS football.
Richmond (6-4, 4-3) keeps its playoff hopes alive as the team prepares to face in-state and CAA rival, the College of William & Mary, in next week's game on Nov. 20. William & Mary (7-3, 5-2) lost today to James Madison University (5-5, 2-5), 30-24.
Contact staff writer Amelia Vogler at firstname.lastname@example.org
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