Richmond’s conference championship hopes were diminished Saturday in Maine.
The Spiders were defeated by the Maine Black Bears. A dominant second quarter from Maine put the game out of reach for the Spiders, who lost 33-20. Maine pushed its lead from three points to 17 in the second quarter, as they scored two touchdowns and held Richmond without a score.
Richmond’s performance was characterized by untimely turnovers, offensive inefficiency and special teams struggles. Quarterback Michael Rocco threw three of the four interceptions in the fourth quarter, which shattered the Spiders’ comeback hopes.
The offense was held to a season-low 338 yards. Jacobi Green fumbled on a kickoff return. And a blocked punt resulted in a Maine touchdown.
Maine scored 33 points — more than the Spiders’ last three opponents combined. The defense simply did not look like it has in recent weeks; Maine seemed to score whenever it needed to. The Spiders were not in sync — when the offense was scoring, the defense was playing poorly, and when the defense was playing well, the offense was not.
The Spiders were not expected to lose this game considering their recent success, but they lost because of some familiar problems. Turnovers have been the Achilles’ heel of the Richmond football team this year, and that trend continued Saturday. Richmond committed five turnovers on offense and did not force any defensively. It is tough to win a football game at any level when the turnover margin is skewed so heavily.
The Spiders were also victims of circumstance this weekend. Coming off of an emotional win against Villanova, and one week away from a rivalry game with James Madison, there was potential for the players to be distracted, and it seemed as if they were. Also, Maine was fresh out of a bye week, which gave the team two weeks to prepare for the Spiders. Richmond looked less prepared and less motivated than Maine.
This loss drops the Spiders to 7-3 (4-2 in the CAA). The team, which was on track for a possible conference championship, now sits at fifth place in the conference standings. Although two more wins and a 9-3 record is a strong case for a playoff spot, it is hard to imagine the Spiders climbing to the top the conference rankings with just two games remaining.
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With a conference championship seemingly out of reach, Richmond has no room for error if the team wants to reach the postseason.
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