The Collegian
Tuesday, May 24, 2022

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Defense shines again in win over Elon

Evan Kelly led Richmond’s defense as it pushed around Elon’s offense in another blowout win for the Spiders on Saturday.

Kelly’s two sacks, two quarterback hits and five solo tackles earned him CAA defensive player of the week honors from College Football Madness.

The defense totaled seven sacks, an interception and allowed only 10 points in the team’s 30-10 victory. DeShawn Holmes and Justin Williamson contributed two sacks each as well.

Perhaps the most impressive stat for the defense on Saturday was Elon’s measly 141 yards of total offense. Until late in the fourth quarter, the defense had held the Phoenix to just three points and under 100 yards, but Elon came alive toward the end of the game and scored a touchdown.

“I thought the defense was good all day long,” head coach Danny Rocco told SpiderTV after the game. He called the defensive performance “pretty dominating” and attributed the season-high seven sacks to favorable match-ups for the defensive line.

Williamson emphasized the mindset of the defense when describing its recent dominance to SpiderTV. The defense has focused heavily on pressuring the quarterback, Williamson said. During a players-only meeting a few weeks ago, the team talked about “being dogs” and wanting to “come downhill and hit,” he said in reference to explaining the defensive success in the past few weeks.

While the defense was clearly the best part of the Spiders’ win, the offense also played well. The team gained nearly 500 yards of offense, and about 200 of them came on the ground.

Jacobi Green led the rushing attack with 88 yards and an early touchdown, but four other players contributed at least 20 rushing yards. Green and Rocco both talked about how important it was to get the rushing game going early, as it allowed the team to hold the lead for nearly the entire game.

Despite the team’s second blowout win in a row, it still struggled with turnovers and energy at times. Quarterback Michael Rocco threw two interceptions, one of which was tipped into the air. The other, however, was an errant throw that looked as if it was intended for the defensive player.

Richmond’s offense was at times reminiscent of last week, when it was lethargic and lacked focus. The Spiders had double-digit penalties worth 90 yards for the second straight week, but coach Rocco failed to mention the mental errors in his postgame interview with SpiderTV.

This win puts the Spiders at 6-2, 3-1 in the CAA and third in the conference standings. Coach Rocco said he was confident with his team’s recent play as it prepared to host Villanova next Saturday, which is ranked fourth nationally in the FCS. The team will look to earn its 11th win in its last 13 games, dating back to last season.

Contact Sports Editor Charlie Broaddus at charlie.broaddus@richmond.edu

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