A statistically impressive performance from Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta and a fourth-quarter explosion from receiver Brian Brown were not enough to help the Spiders beat James Madison on Saturday. 

Lauletta had 435 yards and five touchdowns through the air — both career highs — plus a rushing touchdown. Brown had 126 receiving yards on five targets and scored a touchdown as well. 

The game was the back-and-forth shootout many expected it to be, with a final score of 47–43. JMU took advantage of weak Richmond special teams and a porous defense in the win.

Richmond’s defense had no answer for JMU quarterback Brian Schor, who had 376 yards of total offense and scored four touchdowns. The Dukes also routinely began drives with excellent field position as the Richmond kicking unit could not stop kick returners. 

Meanwhile, the Spiders could not get the ball past the 20-yard line on almost any of its returns. Perhaps the most notable special teams play was when backup quarterback David Broadus botched a punt from Richmond’s endzone to set the Dukes up on the Richmond 20-yard-line. They would score a few plays later.

One of the reasons for the Spiders poor defensive play was the loss of defensive back David Jones to a broken arm a few weeks ago, Richmond coach Danny Rocco said. “We were searching for the right formula to match up with their receivers and get tight coverage, but our roster got depleted a little bit and we were forced to play a certain way,” he said.

This was a game the players said they wanted to win, especially at home against a rival CAA program, but Rocco was conciliatory about the loss. “It would have been draining if we said to ourselves, ‘If we don’t win, this season is lost,’ but that’s not the reality at all.” He emphasized that Richmond needs eight games for a playoff spot and currently has seven.

Next week the Spiders face Delaware at home. With only two games remaining, the Spiders, now 7–2, have limited chances to reach that eight-win mark and advance to the FCS playoffs for the third year in a row.

Contact sports writer Mike Cronin at michael.cronin1@richmond.edu