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Spider football takes tough 10-21 loss against Virginia Tech

<p>Quarterback Joe Mancuso, a graduate student, is pictured during the Spiders' 2019 homecoming game.&nbsp;</p>

Quarterback Joe Mancuso, a graduate student, is pictured during the Spiders' 2019 homecoming game. 

The University of Richmond football team faced off against Virginia Tech for the first time in 35 years for a long-awaited cage match. Playing at Tech’s Lane Stadium, UR took a heartbreaking defeat of 10-21 against the Hokies.

On a bright Saturday afternoon with a field temperature of 72 degrees, the Spiders faced off against the Hokies in front of a crowd of just more than 53,000 people. This game marked the first time the teams have played each other since 1986 when the Hokies took home a 17-10 win against the Spiders.

In the first quarter and on the second offensive play for the Spiders, Virginia Tech safety Tae Daley brought down UR’s graduate student quarterback Joe Mancuso, who was injured after running a 29-yard play. Mancuso fell and landed on his right hand, resulting in a broken index finger. 

Mancuso would not return to the game. 

The Spiders brought in graduate student quarterback Beau English to fill Mancuso’s shoes. Beau threw for 77 passing yards and ran for 26. His right hand man, redshirt junior running back Aaron Dykes, led the team in rushing yards with 62 yards under his belt.

Richmond head coach Russ Huesman was quick to comment on English and his performance in the postgame press conference.

“He’s pretty cool out there, you’d be surprised he doesn’t get rattled very easily,” Huesman said. “He's a pretty accurate thrower, he’s a very efficient runner and he doesn’t let things bother him so you know if we go with Bo we’ll feel pretty good.”

Following Mancuo’s injury with 13:10 on the clock, Tech took the lead 7-0 against the Spiders with a five play touchdown. Tech quarterback Braxton Burmeister threw a ten yard pass to junior wide receiver Tre Turner for the touchdown that was followed by a successful kick by John Parker Romo. 

The Spider offense struggled against the Tech defense, only gaining 53 yards of coverage and ending the quarter with three punts and 14 total plays. Tech, meanwhile, more than doubled the Spiders with 122 total yards.

The second quarter proved challenging and unforgiving for UR’s offense and English with the team having started the quarter with an incomplete pass followed by a complete pass for one yard.

Sophomore punter Aaron Trusler finished UR’s run with a 43-yard kick to begin Tech’s possession. The quarter also proved challenging and unforgiving for the Hokies, as they turned the ball back over to the Spiders after five plays -- which included a false start and three incomplete passes. The Spiders soon turned the ball back over to the Hokies following a five-play possession period after failure to reach a first down. 

With 9:27 on the clock in the second quarter, quarterback Knox Kadum threw a pass to wide receiver Tayvion Robinson when redshirt junior safety Aaron Banks dived in for the interception, giving Richmond possession of the ball and beginning the small streak of success for the Spiders. With 9:22 left in the quarter, redshirt sophomore running back Savon Smith ran a 16-yard touchdown backed by Redshirt sophomore and kicker Jake Larson’s success in the extra point attempt, tying the game 7-7. 

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With 4:23 left in the quarter, Trusler punted for 42 yards and was received by Robinson who ran a 60-yard touchdown against the Spiders. Robinson’s run, combined with Romo's kick, brought the score of the first half to 7-14, Tech leading. 

The third quarter was demanding on the Spiders’ offense against Tech’s defense. The Spiders’ time of possession included 11 total plays for 54 yards, and of those 54 yards, Dyke’s was responsible for running 36, followed by Smith and his 15 yards. The Spiders called a timeout at 10:07 left in the third quarter. 

The Spiders, desperate to stay in the game, called upon Larson, who attempted and succeeded at a 38-yard field goal to bring the score to a close game of 10-14. With Tech in possession and 5:08 left on the clock, the Hokies completed a 10-play and 78-yard possession, which ended in a touchdown by Connor Blurmick who ran the ball on a first and goal. Romo successfully completed the extra point attempt bringing the final score of the game to 10-21. 

The remainder of the game was grueling for both Tech and UR, as it was a constant game of tug-of-war with each team playing a strong offense but an even stronger defense. With 0:52 left on the clock in the third quarter and back to back incomplete passes by English, Richmond called a timeout which was followed by Trusler punting for a Hokies ball at their nine-yard line. 

In the fourth quarter, Dykes ran the ball back-to-back for a gain of three yards combined with English running for eight yards to achieve a first down, but the team was setback by a series of costly mistakes. At 10:49, UR was penalized with a 15-yard loss for tripping, followed by another penalty at 9:33 for delay of game and lastly, at 7:14, UR was penalized again for offside by redshirt junior and defensive back Nile Harris. 

“I thought our guys played really hard,” Huesman said in the post game press conference. “You know, I thought we ran the ball effectively and we really played the run real well.” 

The Spiders will play again at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 2 against Elon University at Robins Stadium. 

Contact sports writer Andrew Cardounel at andrew.cardounel@richmond.edu.

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