by Matt Lincoln
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond Head Coach Latrell Scott said at his midweek press conference that the defense had carried them all season, but Saturday they went above and beyond the call of duty. The Spiders forced seven turnovers, to overcome five giveaways on offense, to beat Rhode Island 15-6 at the final game of the season at Robins Stadium.
The victory keeps the Spiders (6-4, 4-3) in the hunt for an NCAA Playoff bid, ensures Richmond its sixth-consecutive winning season and allows this year's seniors to tie the school record as the winningest senior class (41).
On a day where Richmond honored its seniors, including three of the best defensive standouts in school history in LB Eric McBride, DT Martin Parker and CB Justin Rogers, it was the defense that was the difference. URI owned a 17-minute advantage in time of possession, ran 27 more plays and had 11 more first downs, yet managed just one score - a first-quarter touchdown run by Anthony Ferrer.
McBride moved to second on Richmond's all-time tackles list with 13 and the local product from L.C. Bird High also forced and recovered a fumble on the same play and picked off a pass. Parker made 12 stops, 3.5 TFL and a sack, while Rogers had nine tackles and 2.0 TFL. All three are among the candidates for the Buck Buchanan Award, given to the best defensive player in the FCS.
Another senior, LB Patrick Weldon set a career-high with 18 tackles and a pair of interceptions.
After gaining just 96 yards of total offense through three-and-a-half quarters, Richmond nearly doubled that on one play when Laub found Boston streaking up the seam with seven minutes left in the game.
Boston reeled in the pass near midfield, shook a defender and sprinted for the career-long 77-yard touchdown that gave Richmond a 9-6 lead. The defense forced a punt on URI's next possession, and Richmond finally got its ground game going to seal the victory.
A six-play, 80-yard drive all on the ground ended with a two-yard TD run by Kendall Gaskins with 1:19 left. Weldon's second of two picks on URI's ensuing possession put the game on ice.
Laub finished six-of-20 passing for 146 yards, while Rhode Island QB Steve Probst was 17-of-26 for 195 yard. Probst was the game's leading rusher with 22 carries for 97 yards. Senior RB Tyler Kirchoff, who broke off a 50-yard rush that helped set-up Gaskins' TD, finished with 13 carries for 77 yards.
Sophomore Wil Kamin put Richmond on the board first, booting a 29-yard field goal with 1:52 left in the first. An interception by Tremayne Graham gave Richmond a short field and the Spiders capitalized with the field goal -- it was the only score off a turnover in Saturday's game. Kamin though had his streak of consecutive made field goals snapped at nine as a 35-yarder late in the third quarter was blocked, as were both of his extra-point attempts. URI kicker Louis Feinstein miss-fired on a 44-yard field goal try in the third quarter, and missed his PAT.
Richmond, which has won two-consecutive games and four of its past five, heads to William & Mary next Saturday and battle for the Capital Cup in the 120th playing of the South's Oldest Football Rivalry.