UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND, Va. – The No. 17/18 Richmond football team was edged by the No. 7/8 New Hampshire Wildcats, 29-26, Saturday evening in front of a crowd of 8,404 at Robins Stadium on Family Weekend.
The Spiders fell to 2-2 on the season and 0-1 in the CAA, while the Wildcats improved to 2-1, and 1-0 in the conference.
"The game was back and forth," Richmond head coach Danny Rocco remarked following the game. "I had a sense that it would be a little lower scoring than what most people might have thought. Both defenses rose up to the occasion at times in the game. I think the biggest thing for us was the inability to take away the ball."
Despite the loss, Richmond outgained UNH, 469-461, in total yards, including 348-247 in passing yards. QB Michael Strauss led the offense with 344 yards on 27-of-35 passes, while QB Michael Rocco picked up seven yards rushing on five attempts and a touchdown.
WR Brian Brown had a career day as he led the receiving corps with 139 yards on 12 receptions for his third-career 100-yard game. WR Rashad Ponder also collected his third 100-yard game on his career as he followed with 109 yards on seven receptions. RB Seth Fisher led the Spiders in rushing with 60 yards on a game-high 16 carries.
Defensively, LB Eric Wright led the Spiders with 11 tackles, while LB Aaron Roane followed with nine tackles and 0.5 TFL. Five other Spiders tallied six or more tackles for Richmond, including DL Joey Landess who doubled his career high with seven tackles.
After a 22-yard field goal from K Peter Yoder five minutes in the first, the Spiders found the end zone with a one-yard rush by Fisher three minutes into the second quarter. The Spiders pulled off an impressive 12-play, 80-yard drive that lasted almost six minutes to take the 10-0 lead with 11:57 to go in the first half.
UNH responded with two-straight touchdowns to go into the half with the 14-10 lead.
At the half, the Spiders outgained the Wildcats, 263-212, with the help of 205 yards passing. Strauss led both teams with 201 yards off 13-of-19 passes. Ponder had another impressive first half with 85 yards on just four catches, while Fisher collected 48 yards rushing.
The Spiders cut the UNH lead to one when WR Reggie Diggs made a diving catch down the left sideline for 17 yards to put Richmond in close field goal range. Yoder concluded a nine-play, 58-yard dive with a 22-yard field goal with 8:12 left in the third – its first possession of the half after forcing a UNH fourth-down stop.
It was the Spider defense again, who came up with another crucial stop on the next possession that led to six points for the offense. The defensive line recorded back-to-back pass breakups that forced a Wildcat third and long and eventually called the punt squad out.
Richmond responded with a 12-play, 62-yard drive that led to six points on a Rocco one-yard rush to the end zone, which put the Spiders up 19-14 at the end of the third quarter.
With 10:59 to go, UNH took the lead off a one-yard rush from QB Sean Goldrich, which was his third of the game. The Wildcats attempted a two-point conversion, which was good, to take the 22-19 lead.
Five minutes later, Richmond responded with Fisher finding the end zone on a four-yard rush that gave the Spiders the 26-22 lead with 6:31 left on the clock.
Once again, the Wildcats had one last answer for Richmond, driving for 75 yards off 15 plays for over six minutes that resulted in a two-yard rushing touchdown.
After its bye week this coming week, the Spiders will be back in action when it travels to Lynchburg, Va., to take on the Liberty Flames Saturday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m.