|« History Says Lehigh Can Bounce Back||Early Adversity Deflates Tribe vs. Villanova »|
VMI Lacks Beef in 56-16 Richmond Win
Stronger and thoroughly seasoned, Spiders extend recent dominance of series.
VMI’s Zach Collins returned a first-half kickoff yesterday against the University of Richmond and was forced out of bounds into UR’s bench area.
Collins ran into Brian Agnis, a 6-4, 300-pound Spiders’ reserve offensive lineman, who was holding his helmet, watching the play. Collins bounced off Agnis, went airborne in reverse and landed on his backside. Agnis didn’t move. That scene reflects Richmond’s 56-16 win over the Keydets.
Before a homecoming crowd of 7,643 at Foster Stadium, VMI used its option offense to keep the Spiders off-balance for a brief spell. But UR, ranked sixth in the Football Championship Subdivision, clearly demonstrated its physical superiority.
“I think they beat us about every way you could today,” said Sparky Woods, VMI’s first-year coach. Half of his team is redshirt freshmen or true freshmen. The Keydets’ roster includes only four seniors.
Richmond (4-2) has won the past seven games in this series, and scored at least 34 points in each. The Spiders, who led 21-7 after one quarter, scored two TDs with their offense idle. UR scored on a pitch-interception (Justin Rogers, 41 yards) and a fumble return on the second-half kickoff (Colin Pehanick, 5 yards).
FAST START: A rapid get-away was the Spiders’ aim after last week’s 26-20 loss at Villanova. “We wanted to come out and make a statement this week,” said Rogers, a UR cornerback.
“I was very pleased with the approach at practice [following the loss] and the attitude that the guys had,” said Mike London, Richmond’s coach. “All we can do is just take care of ourselves, and I think we did that today.”
AIR ZERO: VMI (2-3) did not complete a pass. All five attempts came in the second half. Woods chose to concentrate on improving his option offense. “We said at the beginning of the year that we wanted to be better in October than we were in September, and better in November than we were in October,” Woods said. “There’s times I feel like we are, but today wasn’t a very good example of that at all.”
GROUND ASSAULT: VMI arrived as the FCS’s top rushing team (384 ypg), but played without its best runner, Howard Abegesah (strained knee). The Spiders dominated on the ground, rushing for 289 yards, with senior Josh Vaughan gaining 123 (7.7 yards per attempt on 16 carries). UR was limited to 83 rushing yards at Villanova.
“This week, we needed to come together and establish the running game,” said Spiders’ guard Matt McCracken.
UR quarterback Eric Ward, pressured lightly, completed 10 of 13 (130 yards).
SNAPPY SECOND-HALF START: The Spiders led 28-10 at the break, and things got worse in 10 seconds for the Keydets. Collins fielded the second-half kickoff and was sent backwards by Spider David Horton. Collins fumbled and the rolling ball was retrieved by Pehanick. He scored on a 5-yard return.
“It’s hard to tell if we can be competitive in the [Big South Conference] or not until we quit giving away points,” Woods said.
Richmond added another TD with 8:53 left in the third period to lead 42-10.
ROGERS THAT: Richmond’s Rogers scored his third touchdown of the season, and he plays defense. The sophomore from Baton Rouge, La., previously returned two interceptions for TDs, one against Towson, the other against Maine.
Here, Rogers sliced through VMI’s blocking and intercepted a Tim Maypray pitch intended for Gabe Itoka. Rogers wasn’t touched on the way to a 41-yard score. He scored two TDs last season on kickoff returns.
NEXT: The Spiders, who competed without leading receiver Kevin Grayson (shoulder injury), Saturday entertain top-rated James Madison in a Colonial Athletic Association showdown (3:30 p.m. kickoff). The Keydets open Big South competition here against Coastal Carolina.
Where’s beef? UR
By John O’Connor, The Richmond Times-Dispatch