The Collegian
Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Spiders best New Hampshire during homecoming weekend

<p>Redshirt junior running back Savon Smith confronts defender at the homecoming game against New Hampshire on Nov. 5.</p>

Redshirt junior running back Savon Smith confronts defender at the homecoming game against New Hampshire on Nov. 5.

Over 6,000 people filled E. Claiborne Robins Stadium as the University of Richmond football team defeated the University of New Hampshire 40-34 on Nov. 5. 

Despite beginning the game with an opening drive punt, the Spiders wasted no time reaching the end zone in UR’s homecoming weekend game. With 24 seconds left in the first half, UR led the Wildcats 24-0. 

Redshirt senior Aaron Dykes started the day off strong with a two-yard rushing touchdown. From there, the Spiders’ defense forced four punts and a turnover on downs. Before the half was over, UR had scored a field goal and three more touchdowns. 

The Wildcats were able to get on the scoreboard with seven seconds remaining in the half, making the game 24-7, but the Spiders did not allow a first down from UNH until that final drive of the half, which showed UR’s first half dominance on the defensive end.  

The second half proved to be a lot closer in terms of scoring. The Wildcats came out of halftime and gained momentum early. 

UR did force a punt after the Wildcats received the ball at the start of the second half, but on the team’s following drive, graduate student quarterback Reece Udinski threw an interception, beginning a back-and-forth battle with UNH. 

After the interception, UNH and UR spent the third quarter scoring one touchdown after another. The Wildcats scored first and made it 24-14, then the Spiders came back and made it 31-14. UNH then scored again, making it 31-21, followed by another UR score, making it 37-21. 

After that, the fourth quarter began and the Wildcats forced a UR punt for the first time since the first drive of the game. The Wildcats were able to score again, putting UNH down by only three points with 37-34. 

UR punted the ball again and the Wildcats had a chance to tie the game or take the team’s first lead, but UNH’s center fumbled the ball and it was recovered by redshirt senior linebacker Philip O’Connor. 

This led to a 45-yard UR field goal from redshirt sophomore Andrew Lopez to add to the Spiders’ lead. 

The Spiders then forced a UNH turnover on downs, but on the team’s next drive, UR had a turnover on downs as well after Lopez missed a 48-yard field goal. 

Just how the first half ended, seven seconds remained and the Wildcats had possession. Many UR fans rose to their feet, waiting to see if the Spiders would emerge victorious.

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On the final play of the game, UNH’s quarterback threw a hail mary to the end zone from the 35-yard line, but the ball fell incomplete, and the Spiders defeated the Wildcats. 

“It was a critical win,” graduate student receiver Leroy Henley said. “Everybody gave it their all and it was great to see we get a W out of it.” 

Throughout the game, Udinski completed 30 passes for 287 yards and three touchdowns. Redshirt junior running back Savon Smith rushed 16 times for 74 yards. On the receiving end, Henley caught seven passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns. 

“I’m proud of our guys,” UR head coach Russ Huesman said. “I mean this was a big game. I mean these guys [New Hampshire] are good. New Hampshire got a good football team, no question about that. Our guys fought the whole time.”

UR came into the game ranked 14th in the Football Championship Subdivision and UNH came into the game ranked 17th. With this win, UR is tied for first in the Colonial Athletic Conference with a 7-2 record overall and a 5-1 record in conference play.

“We keep the same motto: go 1-0,” Henley said after the game. “It starts tomorrow at practice Sunday and then all the way through next Saturday — go 1-0, one day at a time.”

This is UR’s fourth win in a row. At this point in the season last year, the team was just 4-5. But dating back to last year, the team is 11-2 since then, winning its final four games of the 2021 season and now seven of nine thus far in 2022.  

UR’s next game is away against the University of Delaware at 1 p.m. on Nov. 12. 

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

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