Turnovers were the name of the game for Richmond in Saturday’s first conference game against the Elon Phoenix.
Not even the Spiders’ 91 rushing and 497 passing yards could defeat the Phoenix.
“It’s tough to play every game without a turnover, but three of them, that’s too much. One of those is on me, and there was one fumble; that’s stuff we practice every day," Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta said.
Richmond led 7-6 after the first quarter because Lauletta was able to hit Dejon Brissett for a 75-yard touchdown.
This ignited the Phoenix fury.
Elon caused two fumbles in the second quarter, both recovered by linebacker Warren Messer. They took these opportunities and scored two field goals and a touchdown.
With 1:04 left in the second quarter, the Brissett-Lauletta connection thrived once more as a perfectly placed arc landed into the hands of Brisset, squeezing the differential at halftime to start 19-14 in favor of the Phoenix.
The strategies of each team were unmistakable by this point. Richmond had 203 passing and 40 rushing yards, while Elon had 62 and 177 respectively. Elon Head Coach Curt Cignetti said, “We have a running back right now that’s running with a lot of passion and fury. He’s hard to tackle, and people don’t want to tackle him.”
In reference to the same player Richmond Head Coach Russ Huesman said, “We knew number 30 was an excellent back, and we knew they were going to try to run the football on us.”
With 8:35 remaining in the third quarter, freshman defensive back Samari Springs caused and recovered a fumble at the 7-yard line. Immediately following, Lauletta found wide receiver Cortrelle Simpson for what is now the longest pass play in Richmond Spiders’ history. A cannon from Lauletta met Cortrelle at the 40-yard line, and Cortrelle created the space to get to the end zone.
Elon took the lead at 6:43 scoring once more. Griffin Trau then kicked a field goal to tie the game going into the fourth quarter.
Richmond capitalized early in the fourth quarter. Wide Receiver Tyler Wilkins converted on a 32-yard rush with 12:34 remaining. The Phoenix tied up the game at 9:29. The Spiders had the ball on Elon’s 31-yard line after the punt return when Lauletta was picked off by Messer. The Phoenix proceeded to kick a field goal and ascend to 36-33.
Richmond was not able to convert, and the Phoenix took a knee with eight seconds in the game to stop the Spiders.
To add insult to injury, fireworks were set off over Robins Stadium following the emotional loss in front of their home crowd.
The Spiders have a week off until they play the Albany Great Danes at home. The team and Huesman anticipate the game. Huesman said, “I’ll be sick to my stomach for two weeks until we get another win.”
Contact sports writer Jackson McAtee at firstname.lastname@example.org.