VILLANOVA, PA. 11/4/2017 – It was an elimination game. The winner still would have a chance for a bid to the FCS Championship playoffs. The loser would not. Villanova is facing that situation now as the Richmond Spiders take home a 22 – 0 victory at Villanova Stadium.
“Both Richmond and us were in the same situation,” said Villanova Coach Mark Ferrante. “You knew you had to win today for an opportunity to get to 7 – 4 and keep your fingers crossed. We were both back in the corner. I would say Richmond came out swinging a little harder than we did.”
The Wildcats offense was throttled throughout and were shutout for the second year against the Spiders. The last time the team was blanked was in 2004 against Richmond. Villanova gained 163 yards on 52 offensive plays. The biggest play was a 60-yard completion by tight end Simon Bengelis in the first quarter. Without that play Nova averaged less than 2 yards per play.
“We knew this was an elimination game,” said Richmond Coach Russ Huesman. “It was scary how identical we were in what happened this year.”
Punter John Hinchen helped give Villanova good field position, but Richmond flipped the field with drives. Hinchen punted 7 times in the game totaling 334 yards an average of 47.7 yards, three were over 50 yards. Two punts were inside the 20 and one was for a touch back. But Richmond countered with getting 22 first downs to 9, and posted a 35:16 to 24:44 time of possession advantage.
“We are not consistent enough on offense to keep the sticks moving and put it in the endzone,” Ferrante said. “We had no momentum. We have an all-league punter in John Hinchen. We put our defense out there too long the last few weeks. When the defense is out there too long they get tired and let the guard down a little and give up yards.”
The Spiders gained 434 yards of offense, 175 yards on the ground. It was the largest number of rushing yards the Wildcats defense gave up this season.
Richmond took control of the game in the third quarter with two touchdown drives. The first came on the initial possession of the second half. It was a 7-play, 81-yard drive taking 3:36 capped by a 4-yard touchdown run by running back Xavier Goodall making the score 15 – 0. On their ensuing possession Richmond expanded the lead to 22 – 0 when quarterback Kyle Lauletta crossed the goal line from 2-yards away. The drive was 80-yards taking 10 plays over 5:36.
“We were getting first downs,” said Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta, who threw for 259 yards. “We were running the ball well. We were consistently getting yards on first and second down. We went into halftime we felt we needed to put points on the board. The defense was playing well, now let’s have their backs.”
Villanova falls to 4 – 5 on the season, 2 – 4 in conference. They will travel to Rhode Island for their next contest and try to win the game in front of them. The goal of a winning season is in reach, but they have to win.
“I would like to go out on a high note now that we probably will not make the playoffs,” said Villanova center Matt Donoghue. “Make the most of it, keep playing hard, and do what we do every week.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian