For the first time in at least four seasons, the Richmond Spiders found themselves without a reliable quarterback on Saturday.
Kyle Lauletta, one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the FCS, suffered a knee injury during the second quarter of Richmond's loss to William & Mary and spent the rest of the day on crutches.
"He'll get an MRI... but [his knee] is loose," Richmond coach Danny Rocco said. "I've got no expectation that he returns."
Richmond, which lost 34–13 and surrendered the first-round playoff bye that would have came with a win, tried Jake Clise and Reid Chenault in Lauletta's absence, but together they completed just one pass in a combined two-and-a-half quarters of play. Backup quarterback David Broadus was not dressed for the second straight week, and Rocco again called it a coach's decision.
"We've had some issues with the quarterback position this year," Rocco said. "I think that was pretty obvious that we kind of ran out of answers." Rocco said Clise suffered a shoulder injury, which led to Chenault entering the game. He did not name a starter for next week, although he said it would be a decision between Clise and Chenault.
Without Lauletta, the Spiders crumbled on both sides of the ball. The offense did not score in the second half, and the defense allowed 28 unanswered points. The Spiders ran just 42 plays compared to the Tribe's 74. William & Mary also nearly doubled Richmond's time of possession — 39:33 to 20:27.
The momentum of the game swung after one play more than any other. In the third quarter, Tribe quarterback Steve Cluley scrambled to the left. Richmond defender Justin Rubin sacked him and forced a fumble, which the Spiders picked up and returned for a touchdown. Rubin, however, was penalized for targeting, which resulted in his ejection, the erasure of the touchdown and a first down for William & Mary.
"It just totally changed the football game," Rocco said, calling it the most critical play of the game. "I don't understand it. I saw it on the jumbotron. The call was made, I don't understand why it was made. ...It happened to be a quarterback, but he was a runner."
Tribe running back Kendell Anderson was the clear MVP of the game, touching the ball 46 times and earning 261 total yards, while also scoring two touchdowns. He spent the afternoon running through open holes and greeting Richmond defenders with a power that the Spiders could not match.
"We pretty well controlled the whole action," William & Mary coach Jimmye Laycock said of his team's second-half performance.
Richmond's leading tacklers were its starting safeties, Brendan Coniker (14 tackles) and Charles Mack (nine tackles).
"I had to take on safeties, which is a lot better than taking on d-linemen and linebacker," Anderson said.
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In all likelihood, Richmond (8–3 overall, 5–3 in CAA) will now host a playoff game next weekend following Thanksgiving.
"It's the playoffs, so the only game that matters is the one ahead of us," Richmond linebacker Omar Howard said. "We've got to put all our efforts into this next week. It's win or go home."
Contact editor-in-chief Charlie Broaddus at firstname.lastname@example.org
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