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FCS East Wrapup: We Don't Need No Stinkin' QB

(Photo Credit: Jimmy Young/The Richmond Collegian)

The signs were there earlier in the week for anyone who was following Richmond football. Come Wednesday before their likely do-or-die game at UMass, Spider head coach Latrell Scott still hadn't selected a starting QB.

Highly-regarded transfer QB Aaron Corp was out for the year after injuring his knee against New Hampshire the previous weekend. His backup, QB John Laub, had a wrist injury, and the third string, sophomore QB Nick Hicks, suffered a concussion against the Wildcats and could not make the trip to Amherst.

"It's tough to prepare for the unknown," Scott said of the challenge faced by the Minutemen. "[But] it's not by design on our part."

Anyone head coach who could compete dealt with a hand like that deserves a lot of credit. A head coach who wins against a top team in the nation with a hand like that deserves something else - continued survival for a postseason spot. (more)

In swirling, high winds, Scott penciled in true freshman QB Montel White as the starting QB, but instead played a game largely consisting of the Wildcat formation, with direct snaps to RB Jovan Smith and RB Garret Wilkins to play a majority-Wildcat formation against the No. 8 team in the country. “We wanted Montel to relax and let the older guys make plays for him,” Scott said.

New Englanders thought they had seen the last of baseball scores once the Red Sox were eliminated from playoff contention in baseball. Yet at the end of the 3rd quarter, thanks to a snap above the head of P Caleb Violette and a turnover deep in their own territory resulting in a 33 yard FG by Spider PK Wil Kaimin, the Minutemen were instead clinging to a 7-5 lead going into the final stanza. Only one sustained drive from UMass, thanks to the running of RB Jonathan Hernandez and a 7 yard TD toss from QB Kyle Havens to TE Aaron Krevins had the Minutemen leading in this game.

Going into the wind, UMass knew this wouldn't be easy. Only the strength of the UMass defense combined with the ineptitude of Richmond's offense - who had only five first downs on the afternoon going into the final quarter - was keeping this in UMass' favor.

UMass powered through Richmond's defense to get to the Richmond 1 yard line, using their top-rated rushing attack to devastating effect. But then - on four straight plays, involving four different Spiders - Richmond stood up the Minutemen, and forced them to turn over the ball on downs.

"We looked at each other, and we knew what we had to do," said Richmond DT Martin Parker after the game. "We put four terrific plays together."

"They stoned one of the best rushing attacks in the country the entire game," Scott said. "We told the defense coming into today, 'Guys, give us the opportunity to hang around.' We said, 'There may not be a lot of points scored today.'"

Up until the final drive of the game, the true freshman had only attempted one pass the entire game. Now, getting the ball back with 1:51 to play, Richmond's shot achieving any of their goals - CAA titles, or an appearance in the FCS playoffs - rode on the completely untested arm of White.

A ten yard scramble started off the improbable comeback. Then - White's first completion in Divison I - a 4 yard pass to RB Tyler Kirchoff. Then White would find one of Richmond's best athletes, WR Tre Gray, who had been kept completely off the score sheet until the final two offensive plays of the game. With 14 seconds left, Gray hauled in a 17 yard reception from White. Timeout, Richmond.

"We wanted another chance to drive and show what we were made of," Gray said after the game. "Nobody was down. Everybody was ready to their assignments. We wanted to try not to be Superman, be superheroes out there. We were just doing what we were coached to do."

White then found Gray over the middle for the TD with nine seconds left. Richmond 11, UMass 10. On four completions in six pass attempts by the Spiders' last-string QB. UMass' desperation laterals went nowhere, and Richmond had a most improbable win to keep their postseason hopes alive.

“My team told me they were going to rally around me,” White said after the game. “I just tried to do my job. I guess I did it right. We won the game.”

The Spiders this week welcome Towson to town - where they'll face off against White - while the Minutemen, who seemed to be cruising in CAA play before running into the Brick Spiders this weekend, now face off against New Hampshire in the first-ever college football game played at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass - the Colonial Clash.

Other developments of interest out East:

  • This week's GPI release shows six teams in the GPI's Top 25 - all from the CAA. The numbers for the Patriot League are still not great, but Colgate climbed up the rankings to No. 43 after their 44-3 humiliation of Cornell this weekend. Junior RB Nate Eachus, running over the Big Ren with 291 yards rushing and 3 TDs, won Patriot League and national player of the week honors for his efforts.
  • Elsewhere around the GPI, Robert Morris (No. 36) cemented their place as frontrunner in the NEC with a dominating 38-0 win over Albany. RB Myles Russ set the tone early with a 53-yard TD run, and the Colonials never looked back. “It’s amazing,” OL Carlos Andrade said of Russ’ early big run. “All of the linemen look at each other, and we’re like, ‘We can do this. We can finish this and run the ball on these guys.’” The Colonials, coached by former NFL head coach Joe Walton, have a bye week this week before resuming action against western Pennsylvania NEC rival Duquesne in two weeks.
  • Liberty (No. 27), looks to be the odds-on favorite for the Big South autobid, and performed as expected in a 41-7 rout of VMI. "By halftime, Liberty had outgained VMI 322 yards to 40", the Richmond Times-Dispatch cheerily reported, as QB Mike Brown connected with WR Chris Summers for 120 yards receiving and 3 TDs. Liberty also has a bye week this week, but in two weeks will take on winless Presbyterian in Big South play.
  • Winless Lafayette, who faced off against last year's Big South champions Stony Brook, may have finally steered their ship in the right direction with a 28-21 win over Stony Brook. Head coach Frank Tavani pointed to a blocked FG attempt by DE Michael Phillips as the catalyst that brought victory for the first time this year to the "starving, hungry" Leopards. "We were determined and we raised our level of emotion from the start. What really energized the entire team was that blocked field goal and short return. It jazzed us up, and we stayed that way throughout against a good football team. I told the defense, if they're going to beat us, they're going to beat us throwing the football, not running the football." That block, the rejuvenated defensive line that kept the Seawolves well under their usual rushing yardage, and a newfound rushing game led by freshman RB Jonathan Mputu (23 rushes, 102 yards) ultimately gave the Leopards their first win of the year.

    The big question coming out of the game for Lafayette was the health of QB Ryan O'Neil, who suffered a concussion during the game and was replaced by backup QB Marc Quilling. The trend this year has been to be very cautious with concussions, and it's unclear whether O'Neil or Quilling will be the starter vs. Fordham.
  • Lafayette's next opponent, Fordham, has to be wondering what they need to do to win a football game. Shutting down Yale's offense for three quarters and forcing three missed FGs, the Rams only managed two FGs of their own in offense and ultimately fell to Yale, 7-6.
  • One solitary TD pass - from Yale QB Brook Hart to WR Jordan Forney who juked his defender to score it - was all they needed. "Defense last week played extremely well and today played extremely well," head coach Tom Masella said. "We're getting healthy bodies back. The last few weeks we've been healthy.[But] we're not scoring enough points." Fordham will face off against the Leopards, while Yale will host Penn this weekend in a battle of teams that are unbeaten in Ivy League play.
  • In other sloppy game-related news, Dartmouth turned over the ball four times against Holy Cross - but forced six of their own, including four in the fourth quarter, to beat the Crusaders 27-19. “The turnovers are killing us,” said Holy Cross coach Tom Gilmore. “We’ve gone through two weeks when we weren’t turning the ball over. And then we come in today and turn it over, what, six times? I’m sure it’s happened but I’ve never heard of a team turning the ball over six times and winning.” Dartmouth will face off in a key clash against Columbia - and both schools have their eyes on a potential Ivy League title if everything falls just right - and 3-4 Holy Cross faces a do-or-die game up in Hamilton, NY this weekend when they face off against Colgate in the Patriot League game of the week.
  • Before the season, you probably would have not expected the headline from the Georgetown student newspaper, "Late Interception Ends Hope for League Title" but winless Bucknell managed the trick in a 24-21 win over the Hoyas. The previously winless Bison won after LB Sean Rafferty stepped in front of the pass from Hoya QB Isaiah Kempf and took it to the house for the final score of the game. QB Brandon Wesley also contributed mightily with his arm (11-for-21, 111 yards, 1 TD pass) and feet (58 yards rushing).


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