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Thursday, May 19, 2022

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Spiders upset attempt falls short, lose to ODU, 42-28

NORFOLK, Va. -- After coming back to tie the game at 28 early in the fourth quarter, University of Richmond was unable to score any more points, falling to Old Dominion University, 42-28, the Spiders' sixth straight defeat.

Richmond trailed through most of the game, going down 8-0 two minutes into the game on a 14-yard pass from ODU quarterback Taylor Heinicke to receiver Larry Pinkard, but tied the game three minutes into the fourth quarter when redshirt freshman receiver Stephen Barnette caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Aaron Corp.

On the touchdown grab, Barnette went high into the air and pulled the ball down with one hand with a defender on top of him. The play even impressed the Monarchs' home crowd.

"I can't think of [seeing a better play] in person," Richmond interim coach Wayne Lineburg said. "That was an unbelievable play he made. It looked like he was catching an alley-oop on the hardwood."

The Spiders were unable to take the lead on the score, though, because kicker Wil Kamin missed the extra point, his fourth missed extra point of the season. He also missed a 41-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first half.

On its next drive, ODU converted a few long third down plays, and one short fourth down play, finishing off the drive with a one-yard touchdown pass from Heinicke to receiver Antonio Vaughan, to regain the lead, 35-28.

Heinicke, a true freshman, hurt the Spider defense all game with his arms and legs, throwing for 373 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 48 yards without getting sacked once.

"He had great composure," Richmond linebacker Darius McMillan said. "When we had pressure off the edge, he'd step up."

On the Spiders next possession, the offense moved the ball as far as ODU's 29-yard line before having trouble. On third and 10, Corp's pass towards Barnette was intercepted by ODU's Paul Morant.

The Monarchs proceeded to move down the field quickly, extending their lead to 42-28, on a drive that lasted 1:36, scoring on a nine-yard run by running back Colby Goodwyn.

"The effort is encouraging, but we never accept defeat," Lineburg said. "Losing is not acceptable, and we gotta find a way to get a win."

Lost in the end-of-game excitement was the fact that ODU almost put the game out of reach towards the end of the third quarter.

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Already leading 28-15, the Monarchs blocked a punt by Richmond punter Casey Dobyns to get the ball on Richmond's 46-yard line. On second and 10, 15 yards from the end zone, Heinicke rushed past the line of scrimmage and looked as if he might put his team ahead by 20, but McMillan was able to hit from behind, causing a fumble. Richmond defensive back Doug Howell picked up the loose ball and ran 96 yards for a touchdown. The 14-point swing cut ODU's lead to 28-22.

"He actually broke my contain, so I was just coming off effort, and I saw him holding the ball a little loose, just swung at it, tried to to get it out," McMillan said.

The play changed the whole complexion of the game, Lineburg said.

"You could see the energy spark back to the sideline," Barnette said about the play. "The only thought that we had in out heads was that we were gonna win the game."

Another big storyline for Richmond was dealing with injuries, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. The unit began the game without four usual starters--defensive linemen Jacob Pierce and Corey Jackson and defensive backs Cooper Taylor and Tremayne Graham--and lost a fifth, cornerback Darryl Hamilton early in the game.

"We had to alter our scheme a little bit due to our personnel," Lineburg said.

Richmond usually employs a 4-3 defensive scheme (four linemen and three linebackers), but used a 3-4 (three linemen and four linebackers) for much of the game. Redshirt freshman linebacker Eric Wright made his first start because of the formation, and he finished with a career-high eight tackles.

"It was a little different, a little stressing with the guards coming off, but it didn't really change the way I play," McMillan said. "It was effective."

Richmond star receiver Tre Gray played the whole game despite dealing with an injury of his own, making six catches for 61 yards. The younger receivers, Barnette (four catches, 63 yards) and Ben Edwards (six catches, 68 yards), stepped up to help Gray out.

"I prepare every week as though one of our top two is gonna be banged up so I can be ready mentally," Barnette said, "I did know that Tre was a little banged up throughout the week, but you gotta give credit to him. He's a warrior. He was in there too, till the very end, and I really look up to him for what he did today.

The Spiders (3-6, 0-6) travel to Newark, Del., next week to take on University of Delaware. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.

Game Notes: Both teams unsuccessfully attempted fake punts in the first quarter that led to points for the other team... ODU receiver Reid Evans set a school record with 12 receptions, which went for 149 yards... Corp left the game late in the fourth quarter after being hit hard from his blindside.

Contact staff writer David Weissman at david.weissman@richmond.edu

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