CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Senior QB John Laub was one of several Spiders to turn in a career day on Saturday as Richmond football opened the season with a 43-19 loss to Virginia at the Cavaliers' Scott Stadium. The game marked head coach Danny Rocco's Spider debut.
Virginia jumped out to an early lead when Kevin Parks ran in for a 1-yard score with 9:35 to play in the opening quarter. After Cavalier QB Michael Rocco connected with sophomore WR Darius Jennings on a 51-yard pass less than a minute later and Drew Jarrett's ensuing pair of field goals in the second quarter, it was the Spiders turn to strike with 2:55 to play before the half.
Due to the NCAA's new player helmet rule, sophomore QB and UVA transfer Michael Strauss entered the game for starting QB John Laub, making the most of the substitution and his first-ever collegiate pass with a 3-yard touchdown toss to senior FB Kendall Gaskins, which trimmed the lead to 22-6 entering intermission. Gaskins' score, just the second receiving touchdown of his career, now puts him in a tie for sixth place in the program annals with 23 career touchdowns.
Following Parks' second rushing touchdown of the game to open the second half, Laub led the Spiders down the field midway through the third quarter for what would be a perfect 6-of-6 performance for the redshirt senior. The impressive nine-play scoring drive would culminate with Laub's 4-yard touchdown pass to redshirt freshman FB Seth Fisher in the right corner of the end zone, which was only the rookie's second-ever collegiate catch and cut the Cavalier advantage to 29-12. Gaskins' 21-yard run on the fifth play of the drive would also help key the Spiders in their second scoring drive of the afternoon.
After Virginia went on a 14-0 fourth-quarter run behind rushing touchdowns from senior TB Perry Jones and sophomore TB Khalek Shepherd, Richmond responded with a late score when Strauss handed off to freshman RB Jacobi Green for a 1-yard score with 0:35 seconds remaining in the game.
Laub was 17-of-35 passing for 178 yards on Saturday, all figures serving as career-highs for the Spiders' season-opening starter. Strauss was nearly perfect in his collegiate debut, finishing the afternoon 7-of-8 for 60 yards.
Rocco finished 25-of-37 for a career-high 311 yards, while sophomore QB Phillip Sims opened his Cavalier career 5-of-6 for 50 yards.
Sophomore RB Aaron Roane recorded a career-high 12 tackles and redshirt sophomore DB Reggie Barnette followed suit to come up two stops shy of a personal-high. Preseason All-American Darius McMillan joined them in double figures with 10 tackles, while redshirt sophomores Eric Wright and Doug Howell established new career-bests with nine and eight tackles, respectively.
Redshirt senior Nick Hicks also had a career day against the Cavaliers, establishing new bests with eight punts for 345 yards. His 65-yard punt in the first quarter equaled a career-long as well.
Richmond returns to the field next week when the team welcomes Gardner-Webb to Robins Stadium for a 6 p.m. kickoff.