VILLANOVA, PA (WWBT) - Last season, the Spiders could not respond from a loss, as their first defeat led to an eight game losing streak to end the season. Saturday afternoon, Richmond proved that the 2012 version of the Spiders is a different club, after last week's loss to Old Dominion.
Richmond defeated the Villanova Wildcats on the road Saturday night, 28-17. The Spiders (4-2, 2-1) win over the Wildcats (4-1, 2-1) was the first for the team in Villanova Stadium since the 2000 season and snapped a three-game losing skid to the Wildcats.
Offensively, the Spiders were led by QB John Laub, who completed 19-of-34 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown while also rushing the ball a career-high 20 times for a career-best 79 yards and another score. Stephen Barnette also had a career-day with five receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown. HB Jovan Smith and FB Kendall Gaskins also had scores for Richmond in the victory.
Defensively, LB Eric Wright and DB Cooper Taylor led the team with eight tackles apiece, with Taylor also forcing a fumble. DB Darryl Hamilton had a pair of interceptions, while DL Evan Kelly had six tackles and a career-best 1.5 sacks. The Spider defense forced a season-best four turnovers on the evening, with LB Darius McMillan also coming away with an interception.
The Spiders started the contest quickly, firing on all cylinders in all three phases of the game. After the defense forced a Villanova 3-and-out on the first possession of the night, sophomore DB Rodney Barnes broke through to block the Villanova punt. The Richmond offense worked quickly to take advantage, scoring six plays later when Gaskins plunged in from 1-yard out to give the Spiders a 7-0 lead five minutes in to the game.
Villanova responded, scoring 14-straight points to take a seven-point lead over the Spiders midway through the second quarter. Richmond answered right back with a nice drive of its own, culminating in a spectacular 45-yard touchdown run from Smith to tie the game at 14-14. The 45-yard scamper was the fourth score of the season for Smith and the third run of over 40 yards this year for the redshirt junior.
The Wildcats looked primed to take a lead in to the break, driving into the Spiders' red zone, but DL B.J. Scott tipped a pass that was intercepted by McMillan, ending the Villanova threat. At the break, the game was tied, 14-14.
In the third quarter, the Spiders took their first lead of the ballgame after a nine-play, 68-yard scoring drive. After getting in the Villanova red zone, Laub connected with Barnette on a beautiful, 19-yard fade pass for a touchdown. With 5:31 left in the third quarter, Richmond led Villanova, 21-14.
Villanova looked like it was going to respond, but again the Richmond defense came up big. With the Wildcats at the Spider 10-yard line, Taylor forced a fumble that was recovered by Kerry Wynn, stopping the Villanova drive.
With the score still 21-14 in favor of Richmond, Villanova cut the lead to just four points with a long 17-play, 76-yard drive that took over seven minutes off the clock. With just 10 minutes left in the game, the Spiders held a 21-17 lead over the Wildcats.
The lead remained four when Villanova took possession with 3:18 left in the ballgame. On the first play of the drive, Hamilton jumped the Wildcat pass perfectly, intercepting the ball and setting the Spiders up at the Villanova 9-yard line.
On the ensuing drive, the Spiders had a fourth-and-inches from inside the Wildcat 1-yard line. Going for the touchdown, Laub plunged in through the left side of the line, giving the Spiders a 28-17 lead.
The Wildcats attempt at a comeback would end on the next drive, as Hamilton came away with his second interception of the contest, securing the road victory for the Spiders, 28-17.
Richmond continues in enemy territory next Saturday, as the Spiders travel to New Hampshire.