The Collegian
Monday, November 28, 2022

Down go the Wildcats: Spiders defeat Villanova 20-10

<p>Sophomore defensive back Angelo Rankin guards a Villanova University player at the Oct. 15 game in the Robins Stadium.</p>

Sophomore defensive back Angelo Rankin guards a Villanova University player at the Oct. 15 game in the Robins Stadium.

The University of Richmond Spiders football team defeated the Villanova University Wildcats 20-10 on Oct. 15.

Coming into the game, Villanova hoisted a #17 FCS ranking while UR ranked #21. The last time the Spiders played the Wildcats was last season on Sept. 18, when the Wildcats won by a touchdown. This time around, however, the Spiders emerged victorious. 

The first score of the game went to the Wildcats with 2:33 left in the first quarter. This came after UR went for it on fourth and sixth and failed to complete a pass, resulting in a turnover on downs. The next possession, the Spiders tied it up with a rushing touchdown from graduate student quarterback Reece Udinski during the first play of the second quarter. 

The Wildcats scored a field goal on their next possession — adding to an already back-and-forth game — which made the score 10-7. But, the Spiders took the lead with a touchdown with 2:31 remaining in the half. On that drive, UR was able to get a pass to redshirt sophomore tight end Connor Deveney for the score, fighting to the red zone after the Wildcats sacked Udinski earlier in the possession. 

As the first half came to a close, the Wildcats had a chance to make it 14-13 with a field goal but missed from 46 yards away. This gave UR a four-point advantage heading into halftime.

The second half began with back-to-back punts from the Spiders and Wildcats. However, two interceptions followed for both squads. The first came with 7:05 left in the third quarter when sophomore defensive back Bryson Parker picked off the Wildcats quarterback. The second came almost three minutes later when Udinski had his pass picked off by a Wildcats defensive back. 

Neither team scored for the rest of the third quarter and the next score did not come until a little over six minutes left in the fourth quarter: a field goal for the Spiders by redshirt sophomore kicker Andrew Lopez. 

Before the Spiders’ field goal, the Wildcats had a chance to take the lead in the early stages of the quarter, as they were inside the 20-yard line. But they elected to go for it on fourth and five at the 18-yard line instead of kicking the field goal — a decision that proved unsuccessful.

The Spiders’ defense held true the rest of the game, forcing a Wildcats punt that led to another Lopez field goal on the next possession. With 10 seconds left in the game, to put a cap on what was a momentous win for the Spiders, redshirt first-year defensive lineman Matei Bingaman-Fitz forced a Wildcats fumble which was recovered by redshirt senior linebacker Philip O’Connor. 

Throughout the game, the Spiders rushed 52 times for 227 yards. Redshirt senior running back Aaron Dykes ran for 96 yards, redshirt junior running back Savon Smith for 74 yards, redshirt senior running back Howard Milan for 44 yards and Udinski for 32 yards.  

UR head coach Russ Huesman said because the Wildcats were defending the pass throughout the game, they had to shift to the run game. 

“Credit to our offensive line, our offensive staff and our running backs,” Huseman said in a postgame press conference. “We got it done and somehow we ran the football effectively, but any way you can win you gotta win a game.” 

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This win brings UR’s record to 4-2 on the season and 2-1 in Colonial Athletic Association play. The Spiders now sit sixth in the conference. This game against the Wildcats was its first since Oct. 1. 

UR began the season with a loss away at the University of Virginia but was able to win three straight games against Saint Francis University, Lehigh University and Stony Brook University. Two weeks ago, however, it lost in double overtime against Elon University. 

Regardless of the opponent, Huesman said the Spiders’ amount of confidence did not change from game to game. 

“We have a confident football team,” he said. “We felt like going to Elon, we were gonna win that one. We were confident that we could win this game. We have a confident team, it never changed.”

Similarly, redshirt junior defensive lineman Marlem Louis said winning against a ranked opponent in the Wildcats did not increase the confidence the team already has.

“I think we all just think that we’re a great team,” he said. “And we know exactly what we can do. So we’re definitely confident in ourselves, no matter win or loss.”

Looking forward, the Spiders have five games remaining, all of which are against conference opponents. At this point in the season last year, UR hoisted a 2-4 record.

“Going forward, obviously, we do expect to play our best and go out there and play up to our abilities, so whatever happens, happens,” Louis said. “But we’re just going 1-0 each week. We don’t really focus on the whole, big end goal. That’s our focus every single week: just go 1-0.”

The Spiders will travel to Hampton, Virginia, for the team’s next game to take on the Pirates of Hampton University at 2 p.m. on Oct. 22.

Contact sports writer Jimmy James at jimmy.james@richmond.edu.

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