The Collegian
Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Football team shuts out Davidson in first round of FCS playoffs

<p>Graduate wide receiver Jakob Herres catches a touchdown pass in the first round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs on Nov. 26. Photo courtesy of Keith Lucas/Richmond Athletics.</p>

Graduate wide receiver Jakob Herres catches a touchdown pass in the first round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs on Nov. 26. Photo courtesy of Keith Lucas/Richmond Athletics.

The University of Richmond football team defeated Davidson College at home in the first round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs 41-0 on Nov. 26.

Whether it was on offense or defense, the Spiders executed on all cylinders during the team’s first playoff game since 2016 and first shutout win since 2017 — a 20-0 win over Villanova University

UR came out of the gates strong defensively. The Wildcats received the ball first, giving Davidson a chance to put points on the board before the Spiders, but UR’s defense had the momentum early, forcing punts on Davidson’s first four drives of the game. 

On the other side of the ball, the Spider defense was backed by a surge of offense. 

UR scored on its first two drives of the game, which put the Spiders up 10-0 early. Redshirt junior running back Savon Smith rushed into the endzone for the first touchdown of the game and redshirt sophomore kicker Andrew Lopez made a 35-yard field goal. 

From there, the Spiders were off and running and never looked back. Junior punter Aaron Trusler only had to punt the ball twice throughout the game, one of which went out of bounds and pinned Davidson at the four-yard-line. 

Davidson did have its opportunities, but the Spider defense proved too much for the Wildcats’ offense. At one point, Davidson was as close as 27 yards from the endzone, but UR stepped up and forced a turnover on downs after the Wildcats went for it on fourth down. 

UR also forced a turnover late in the second quarter. 

Davidson moved the ball to the Spiders’ 8-yard-line, but the Wildcats’ quarterback had his pass intercepted by redshirt first-year linebacker Matei Bingaman-Fitz, giving UR one minute to march down the field and get in field goal range for redshirt junior kicker Jake Larson.  

At halftime, the Spiders led the Wildcats 27-0. 

The second half fared the same for the Spiders and the score differential, only during this half, UR’s lead grew even more. 

During UR’s first possession of the second half, redshirt senior running back Milan Howard scored a rushing touchdown, growing the team’s lead to 34-0. 

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With the Spiders’ lead growing so large, UR was able to bring in some of the team’s reserves and younger redshirt players who had seen little playing time this season. 

Howard scored another rushing touchdown, which brought the lead to 41-0. Similar to the first half, Davidson was unable to put together a score-yielding drive in the second half, sealing the Spiders’ FCS first round playoff victory. 

UR head coach Russ Huesman said it was a really great day across the board.

“Felt great to get a win here,” he said in a press conference. “I think we played really well in all three phases of the game — offense, defense, kicking game. 

“On offense, we were really efficient, hung onto the football, we ran the ball. Defensively, to pitch a shutout against a team that’s averaging 350 yards a game rushing was really good.”

On the day, offensively, graduate quarterback Reece Udinski threw 31 times for 28 completions, 246 yards and two touchdowns. Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Nick DeGennaro caught six passes for 62 yards. Graduate wide receiver Jakob Herres and sophomore wide receiver Jerry Garcia Jr. each caught a touchdown pass. 

“We just want to stay ahead of the chains and that comes with taking completions and taking what the defense was giving us and I think that first drive was really key because we moved the ball pretty well, got to see what defense they were playing in,” Udinski said in a press conference. “And we had some sputters in the second quarter but we kind of bounced back.”

Defensively, redshirt junior linebacker Tristan Wheeler had eight tackles, redshirt senior linebacker Philip O’Connor and redshirt junior linebacker Xavier Marshall each had six tackles and redshirt junior defensive lineman Marlem Louis had a sack and two tackles for loss. 

“I think everyone did a great job honing in on what their assignment was and it had a good outcome for us,” Wheeler said in a press conference. 

This win brings UR’s record to 9-3 on the season, an improvement on a 6-5 finish last season. 

Despite a loss against the College of William & Mary in the team’s final regular season game, the Spiders were able to secure a spot in the FCS playoffs as an unseeded team. 

With this win against Davidson, UR will keep its season alive and the team will advance to the second round. 

“First of all we’re super excited, super blessed to be in this position — the first time since 2016, a lot of our first times and playing in big games like this,” Wheeler said. “So it’s a super cool position that we’re in and we’re just gonna approach it the same way we do every week and go out there and hope for the best.”

UR will travel to California to take on second-seeded California State University, Sacramento in the second round of the playoffs at 5 p.m. on Dec. 3.

Contact sports writer Jimmy James at

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