RICHMOND, Va. - It was Dedication Day at the University of Richmond's brand new E. Claiborne Robins Stadium and the 16th-ranked Spiders (4-3, 2-2) celebrated with a 28-6 Colonial Athletic Association victory over visiting Towson University (1-6, 0-4) before a sell-out crowd of 8,700 on Saturday afternoon.
The injury-riddled Spiders, who were playing their second game with fourth-string quarterback Montel White at the helm, forced four turnovers and stopped the Tiger offense on downs once. The Richmond offense scored 15 points off those miscues.
"Richmond deserves all the credit in the world,' said Towson Coach Rob Ambrose. "They have had an avalanche of injuries and they came out and played hard and smart. After last season, we are very aware of how injuries can affect your preparation.
"This was a very hard-hitting game between two physical teams," he added. "When you play that kind of game, the game is usually decided by turnovers and penalties. It was very physical out there and we have some injuries too. Richmond doesn't have the market cornered on penalties."
In addition to their four turnovers, the Tigers were penalized six times for 60 yards. The Spiders did not turn the ball over once and they had only four penalties for 21 yards.
"This is a great win for us," said Richmond Coach Latrell Scott. "We were fortunate to get off to a great start. That enabled us to keep pounding the ball. Our offensive line did a great job. We ran the same play time after time until somebody broke one loose."
Although the Tiger defense recorded seven tackles for lost yardage, the Spiders ran the ball 50 times for 237 yards as they wore down the Tiger defense. Sophomore Kendall Gaskins led the Spiders with 16 carries for 100 yards and one touchdown.
The Tigers experienced a very rough first quarter as they put themselves in a 12-0 hole. They turned the ball over twice and lost senior cornerback Ollie Thomas to a serious leg injury.
After the Tiger defense forced Richmond to punt on the first series of the game, Thomas, who was making his 30th consecutive start for Towson, caught the punt at the 33-yard line and returned it seven yards to the 40-yard line where he was injured.
On their first possession of the game, the Tigers moved into Richmond territory when quarterback Chris Hart completed a 19-yard pass to Erron Banks. On fourth down-and-four at the Richmond 42-yard line, Hart lined up in punt formation. However, when he received the snap, he threw a pass to Banks, who was tackled immediately by Darius McMillan and the Spiders took over at their own 40-yard line.
Richmond immediately cashed in on the great field position. On the fifth play of the drive, White completed a 37-yard pass to junior wide receiver Tre Gray, who was brought down at the Towson seven-yard line. On third down-and-goal, freshman Jovan Smith broke several tackles and scored on a seven-yard run to give the Spiders a 6-0 lead with 6:10 left in the first quarter. It was the first touchdown of his career. However, the lead remained at 6-0 when junior defensive tackle Marcus Valentine broke through and blocked Wil Kamin's conversion attempt.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Spiders got the first big break of the game. Senior Hakeem Moore took the kickoff at the 18-yard line and returned it to the 25-yard line. At the 25-yard line, freshman defensive back Wayne Pettus met him with a jarring tackle and Moore fumbled. Linebacker Eric McBride recovered the fumble and returned it ten yards to the Towson 14-yard line.
After sophomore Garrett Wilkins ran for 11 yards on first down, White lofted a pass in the end zone for sophomore tight end Kevin Finney. Although Jordan Dangerfield got a hand on the pass, Finney caught the rebound for a touchdown with 5:29 remaining in the opening period. However, Kamin's conversion attempt was no good and the Spiders owned a 12-0 advantage.
On the Tigers' next possession, they drove to the Richmond 38-yard line. But, Hart was sacked on a first down play by junior Tremayne Graham and fumbled. Defensive end Brandon Scott recovered the fumble at the 50-yard line, setting up another excellent scoring chance for the Spiders.
The Tigers, who had not turned the ball over in three games, committed two turnovers in the first quarter against the Spiders.
From there, Richmond marched 22 yards in 4:56 to the Towson 28-yard line where the drive stalled. Kamin, who had missed two extra point kicks, redeemed himself with a career long 45-yard field goal, giving Richmond a 15-0 lead with 12:32 left in the half.
After Kamin's field goal, the Tigers marched to the Richmond 33-yard line. However, a holding penalty and a sack pushed the Tigers back and they were forced to punt.
With five minutes left in the half, the Tigers received a huge break. On fourth down, Kamin, the punter, received a low snap. He scooped it up off the ground and bobbled the ball. By the time he started to run, sophomore Romale Tucker was there to tackle him at the Richmond 28-yard line.
But, the Tiger offense couldn't take advantage of their great field position. On fourth down, senior place kicker Nick Wallace attempted a 44-yard field goal. When his kick went wide left, the Spiders still led by 15-0.
With 50 seconds left in the first half, a nine-yard punt return by Justin Rogers gave the Spiders a first down at the Towson 42-yard line.
On second down, White was under pressure and threw a pass that was intercepted by Jeremy Gardner at the Towson 21-yard line. Gardner returned the interception to the Richmond 48-yard line. However, there was a penalty on the play. Towson was penalized for roughing the passer. So, instead of having the ball at the Spiders' 48-yard line, the Tiger defense went back on the field to defend against the Spiders, who had a first down at the Towson 27-yard. Although the Tiger defense continued to hold, Kamin booted a 39-yard field goal with no time left on the clock to give Richmond an 18-0 lead at halftime.
Midway through the third quarter, Gaskins broke loose for a 47-yard run down the sideline to the Towson 33. When Garrett Wilkins picked up 16 yards, the Spiders were inside the Towson 20-yard line. But the Tiger defense, led by senior linebacker Donte Blakey stopped the Spiders' offense. Kamin's third field goal of the game, a 30-yarder, upped the lead to 21-0 with 4:54 left in the third quarter.
A 56-yard pass play from Hart to sophomore Alex Blake set up the Tigers' first touchdown of the game and gave Towson a first down at the Spiders' 12-yard line. Three plays later, sophomore tailback Tremayne Dameron ran up the middle for a five-yard touchdown with 1:58 left in the third quarter. It was Dameron's third touchdown of the season and the 11th TD of his career. However, the Tigers couldn't get any closer than 21-6 when Wallace missed the conversion kick.
After the ensuing kickoff, the Spiders put the game out of reach when they marched 83 yards in nine plays and took 4:52 off the clock. On the second play of the drive, Smith took a direct snap and raced 45 yards to the Towson 37-yard line before freshman cornerback Corey Ford knocked him out of bounds. Once the Spiders reached the Tigers' 26-yard line, they gave the ball to Gaskins on four straight running plays. With 12:06 remaining in the game, Gaskins scored on a six-yard run. When Kamin converted, the Spiders owned a comfortable 28-6 advantage.
On their next possession, the Tigers drove to the Richmond 46-yard line where they faced a fourth down-and-four. However, junior safety Colin Pehanick intercepted a Blanchard pass to end the threat.
With 5:58 left in the game, a 53-yard punt by Kamin pinned the Tigers back at their own two-yard line. From that point, the Tigers staged their most impressive drive of the game. Facing a fourth down-and-five at the Tigers' 43-yard line, Hart completed a 23-yard pass to sophomore Tom Ryan, moving the ball to the Spiders' 34-yard line. An 18-yard run by Hart gave Towson a first down at the Richmond 16-yard line.
The Tigers reached the Richmond four-yard line but Graham intercepted a pass by Blanchard in the end zone, ending the threat with 18 seconds remaining. Towson had marched 94 yards in 16 plays but did not score any points.
While the Spiders ran for 237 yards, the Tigers picked up 128 rushing yards, led by Hart, who ran for 82 yards on 18 carries. Sophomore Dominique Booker ran for 25 yards on 10 carries while Dameron carried the ball six times for 25 yards and a touchdown.
Hart and Blanchard combined to complete 12 of 30 passes for 186 yards. Hart completed 8 of 18 passes for 154 yards and was sacked four times. Blanchard was four-for-12 for 32 yards and was intercepted twice.
Banks and Ryan each caught four passes to lead the Tigers. Banks had four receptions for 60 yards while Ryan caught four passes for 46 yards.
White completed six of ten passes for 73 yards and one touchdown. Gray led the Spiders with three receptions for 58 yards.
Despite the loss, the Tigers had more first downs and more total yards than Richmond. Towson had 17 first downs while Richmond had 16. Towson totaled 314 yards of offense while Richmond had 310 total yards.
Sophomore linebacker Trevor Walker, Dangerfield and Blakey each made 13 tackles to lead the Tiger defense. It was a career high for all three Tigers. Blakey made 13 tackles, including a pair of tackles for lost yardage. Dangerfield had 13 tackles and broke up one pass. He now leads the Tigers with 66 tackles in seven games. Walker made 13 tackles with ½ tackle for lost yardage.
Despite being held well below his CAA-leading average of 147.2 yards per game, Moore picked up 85 all-purpose yards against the Spiders. With his 85 all-purpose yards, he passed the 3,000-yard mark for all-purpose yards in a career. He now has 3,039 all-purpose yards in 29 career contests.
TIGER TALES: The Tigers' loss to #16 Richmond marked their consecutive defeat at the hands of a Top 20 team ... Towson had lost to #8 Massachusetts and #7 James Madison in its last two games ... Ryan returned to the lineup for the first time since Sept. 11 when he suffered a knee injury ... He missed four games due to the injury.
For the second straight game, the Tigers played without starting offensive center Steve Jordan and starting left guard Dan Hurley ... A pair of "red shirt" freshmen, Doug Shaw and Anthony Davis, replaced them in the lineup for the second game in a row ... Freshman cornerback Corey Ford saw extensive action at cornerback when Thomas left the game ... Ford made six tackles against the Spiders.
Robins Stadium was dedicated at halftime even though the Towson game was the Spiders' fourth game in the first-year facility ... Richmond has a 3-1 record in its new on-campus home.
Richmond's victory was its fourth straight win over Towson ... The Spiders lead the all-time series by a 5-2 margin.
The Tigers return home to Minnegan Field at Johnny Unitas® Stadium for their Homecoming Game against unranked Rhode Island next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ... It will be the Tigers' first game against unranked opponent since Sept. 25 when they faced Columbia.