Leading 16-0 after three quarters, the University of Richmond was outscored 23-6 during the final quarter, losing to University of Maine, 23-22, on its Homecoming Game. It's the Spiders' fourth consecutive loss, all to Colonial Athletic Association opponents.
On Richmond's final possession, quarterback Aaron Corp was sacked for an 11-yard loss on first down from Maine's 33-yard line with less than a minute to play and no timeouts remaining. The offense was unable to dig out of that hole, turning it over on downs three plays later when Corp's pass was knocked down by a Black Bears defender.
Maine took its first lead, 23-22, with less than four minutes remaining in the game off a one-yard touchdown run by quarterback Warren Smith.
Richmond was held to six second-half points, which came off a two-yard run by tailback Garrett Turner two minutes into the fourth quarter. The touchdown came two plays after Spiders safety Cooper Taylor intercepted a pass by Smith and returned it 44 yards to Maine's 2-yard line.
"We've been talking about making big plays on defense for a while," Taylor said. "That's kind of what's been lacking the last few weeks. I was hoping that was going to be it, but we just didn't make enough plays in the end."
The touchdown only yielded six points because Black Bears defensive lineman Michael Cole blocked the extra point attempt, the second time Maine blocked an extra-point attempt. This block earned Maine two points when safety Jerron McMillan picked up the loose ball and returned it to the end zone.
Richmond interim coach Wayne Lineburg said he had seen Cole's ability in film, but had thought he had addressed it enough in practice.
Spiders wide receiver Tre Gray had a noticeably quiet second half. After a dominating first-half performance where he caught 10 passes for 120 yards, he was held to just two receptions for eight yards in the second half.
"They changed a few things up, but it mostly goes back to us executing our jobs or not, and they made more plays than us," Gray said.
Gray still did manage to break two Richmond records, surpassing both the all-time receptions mark and the all-time receiving yards mark in the first half. Both records were previously held by Leland Melvin for 26 years.
Gray said he'd much rather have had a win, but his coach was quick to compliment his accomplishments.
"Can't say enough about him," Lineburg said. "The kind of season he's had and the kind of career he's had. In my time here, he's been one of the best players I've been around."
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The defense's shutout through three quarters was aided by the returns of three defensive linemen coming off injuries: tackle Corey Jackson and ends Jacob Pierce and Kerry Wynn.
"It's incredible to get them back," Taylor said. "The true freshmen did a great job [in their place], but they are true freshmen. They had a lot of learning to do, and those guys always seem to make plays."
A couple offensive decisions were questioned after the game.
At the end of the first half, Richmond was driving down the field with a couple timeouts remaining. The offense eventually had a first down 14 yards from the end zone with 26 seconds remaining. After an incomplete pass, the Spiders elected to run the ball and wait until the clock ticked down to five seconds before calling its final timeout. Kicker Wil Kamin proceeded to make the 30-yard field goal to put his team ahead, 16-0.
During the fourth quarter, after Maine took its first lead of the game, Richmond faced a fourth and 10 on its own 47-yard line with just over two minutes remaining and all of its timeouts left. The team elected to go for it, but a dump pass to Turner went for no gain.
"We thought we were in position there where we felt confident in Aaron's ability," Lineburg said. "Probably one of those deals now where we think back and maybe kick it right there and use your timeouts, but we didn't make that decision."
The Spiders (3-4, 0-4) now look ahead to next Saturday, where they will face University of Massachusetts at 1 p.m. in Robins Stadium.
Game Notes: Richmond fullback Kendall Gaskins failed to score a touchdown for the first time this season... Smith had only been intercepted twice all season before being picked off twice in this game, the first one by cornerback Tremayne Graham... Corp threw a pair of six-yard touchdowns during the first half, one to Stephen Barnette and one to Ben Edwards.
Contact staff writer David Weissman at email@example.com
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