RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - LB Omar Howard helped lead the No. 13/14 Richmond football team over the No. 3/4 Villanova Wildcats, 10-9, with a career-high 18 tackles Saturday afternoon at Robins Stadium.
Richmond (7-2, 4-1) handed the Wildcats their first conference loss of the season as they fell to 7-2 overall and 4-1 in the CAA.
Howard's 18 tackles was just one shy from a season high in the league as he also picked up one tackle for a loss.
In addition to Howard, four other Spiders picked up at least seven tackles on the day as the Richmond defense held the Wildcats to just 253 total yards and forced three turnovers. LB Eric Wright followed the Richmond, Va., native with nine tackles and an interception, while LB Aaron Roane tallied eight tackles and one tackle for a loss.
Offensively, Richmond outgained Villanova, 380-253, in total yards, including 314-139 in passing yardage. QBMichael Rocco led the Spiders to the win as he threw for the 314 yards on 21-of-42 passes and one rushing touchdown. WR Brian Brown led the receivers with 119 yards off eight catches for his fifth-career 100-yard game, while RB Seth Fisher collected a team-high 39 yards on 12 rushes.
It was a rough start for both teams as all six first-half turnovers came in the first 15 minutes. Each team forced three apiece, but still managed to keep the score at zero until a little over two minutes left in the second quarter.
Villanova hit a 24-yard field goal at the 2:39 mark to go into the half with a 3-0 lead.
Despite not finding the end zone, the Spiders outgained the Wildcats 202-135 in total yards, including 179-71 in passing yardage. Rocco threw for the 179 yards off 12-of-24 passes, while Brown led the offence with 84 yards on six catches.
Defensively, Richmond extended its zero points in the first quarter streak to seven as it blanked Villanova in the first 15 minutes. Howard played lights out in the first two quarters, surpassing his previous career high of nine tackles to 13 with one for a loss.
At the start of the third quarter, the Spider defense forced the Wildcats to punt on a three-and-out. Villanova was penalized on an illegal kick, which awarded Richmond the ball on the Wildcats' six-yard line. K Peter Yoder nailed a 37-yard field goal that tied the score at three 2:30 into the second half.
After six points from the Wildcats, the Spiders responded with a six-play, 65-yard scoring drive capped off by a 15-yard rush from Rocco to take the 10-9 lead with 6:18 left in the third quarter.
With under three minutes to go, the Richmond defense forced a Villanova turnover on downs that gave the ball to the Spiders on the Wildcats' 40-yard line. After Fisher picked up nine yards on a second-and-10, the Salem, Va., native recorded the first down a play later to allow the Spiders to run out the play clock and secure the win.
The Spiders will return to action when they hit the road for the Maine Black Bears Saturday, Nov. 8 at 12:30 p.m.