#4 Richmond Trims Tigers, 45-14
Courtesy: TBD  
Release: 09/13/2008
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David Newsom had a career high 10 catches for 106 yards at Richmond.


RICHMOND, Va. – Opening their Colonial Athletic Association schedule with a tough assignment at fourth-ranked University of Richmond, the Tigers were seeking their third straight victory over the Spiders. But the Spiders (2-1, 1-0) extinguished the Tigers’ (1-2, 0-1) upset hopes by grabbing an early 14-0 lead and handing the Tigers a 45-14 loss in 92-degree heat at sultry Richmond Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

      With the win, the defending CAA champions avenged back-to-back losses to Towson. In 2006, the Tigers handed Richmond a 31-7 loss on its home field. Last year, the Tigers came from behind to post a 23-21 victory over the Spiders at Johnny Unitas ® Stadium.

      En route to the win, Richmond converted five Tiger turnovers into 31 points and blocked a punt.

      “Anyone who watched this game knows the final score was not indicative of the game,” said Towson Coach Gordy Combs. “It all came down to turnovers. We kept turning the ball over on their side of the field. And every time we turned it over, they capitalized on it.”

      Combs felt that the biggest play of the game came early in the fourth quarter with the Tigers trailing by 31-14 and moving the ball. On second down at the Richmond 36-yard line, sophomore cornerback Justin Rogers intercepted a Sean Schaefer pass and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown to give Richmond a 38-14 lead.

      “That play was a turning point in the game,” added Combs. “We were moving the ball and there was plenty of time remaining. But, when he (Rogers) picked off that pass and brought it all the way back, the momentum changed completely.”

      Moments later, junior cornerback Derek Hatcher settled the issue when he intercepted a pass by backup quarterback Blair Peterson and returned it 25 yards for a TD to give Richmond an insurmountable 45-14 lead with 8:42 left in the game.

      Schaefer, the Tigers’ record-setting quarterback, endured one of the most frustrating games of his career against the Spiders. Although he completed 21 of 32 passes for 214 yards and two touchdowns, he was intercepted four times, matching his career high. Although he wasn’t sacked, he was forced to scramble many times and picked up 33 rushing yards on six carries.

      “Sean had a rough game,” admitted Combs. “Richmond did a great job defensively against us. With (Lawrence) Sidbury and (Sherman) Logan, they have an outstanding pair of defensive ends. Even when they weren’t getting pressure on Sean, they were putting their hands up so he had trouble seeing and they even knocked down a few balls.”

      In the opening minutes of the game, Hatcher gave the Spiders the first break of the game when he intercepted a deflected Schaefer pass at the Spider 32-yard line and returned it 20 yards to the Towson 48-yard line.

      Then, the Spiders took advantage of their great field position and drove 48 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. Junior Josh Vaughan set up the touchdown when he bulled ahead for a first down at the Towson 11-yard line after the Spiders went for a first down on fourth-and-one. Three plays later, senior fullback John Crone scored on a three-yard run before Andrew Howard’s conversion gave Richmond a 7-0 lead.

      On their second possession, the Tigers were forced to punt and junior Nicholas Battle broke through to block a Bill Shears punt, giving the Spiders a first down at the Towson 23-yard line. Two plays later, junior quarterback Eric Ward threw a 21-yard screen pass to junior Jordan Mitchell who took the ball into the end zone down the sideline. Ward’s TD pass gave the Spiders a 14-0 lead with 3:43 left in the first quarter.

      The Tigers were never able to catch up.

      Sophomore defensive tackle Yaky Ibia gave the Tigers a spark when he blocked a 42-yard field goal attempt by Howard early in the second quarter.  The Tigers responded by marching 74 yards on 14 plays for their first touchdown of the game. On the drive, they converted four third down opportunities.

      The Tigers got on the scoreboard when Schaefer fired a 10-yard TD pass to senior Marcus Lee, Lee’s third touchdown reception of the season. Lee has now caught a pass in 36 consecutive games.

      Trailing by 14-7, the Tigers received a golden opportunity to tie the game when senior Scott Bullock recovered a fumble at the Spiders’ 27-yard line. However, the Tigers gave the ball right back to the Spiders when Schaefer overthrew junior David Newsom in the end zone and junior cornerback David Horton intercepted.

      The Spiders proceeded to drive 80 yards on eight plays as they extended their lead to 21-7 when Ward threw a one-yard TD pass to Crone with 3:40 left in the first half.

      In the second half, the Tigers made a strong bid to cut into their deficit when they marched to the Richmond 11-yard line. On first down, Rogers made a diving interception at the one-yard line to turn the Tigers away. It was the first of two interceptions for Rogers.

      Richmond proceeded to march 78 yards in 13 plays, extending their lead to 24-7 when Howard booted a 38-yard field goal with 4:47 left in the third quarter.

      With the help of a 60-yard pass play from Schaefer to Newsom, the Tigers came right back to score on their next possession. The 60-yard pass play set up Schaefer’s second TD pass of the game, a 10-yard toss to sophomore Hakeem Moore, the first TD of his career. When senior Mark Bencivengo converted, the Tigers trailed by 24-14 with 3:15 left in the third quarter.

      But, a 44-yard kickoff return by Rogers gave the Spiders excellent field position at the Richmond 46-yard line. Eight plays later, junior Justin Forte scored on a 5-yard run to give the Spiders a 31-14 lead with 13:57 left in the game.

      On the ensuing drive, Rogers made the biggest play of the game when he turned his second interception of the game into a 68-yard touchdown.

      “Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers,” complained Coach Combs. “It’s impossible to beat a quality team like Richmond when you make mistakes like that.”

      By throwing for 214 yards, Schaefer became the sixth player in CAA history to reach the 9,000-yard mark in career passing yards. In his career, he has now completed 809 of 1,268 passes (.638) for a school record 9,145 yards and 58 touchdowns.

      Schaefer was also the Tigers’ leading rusher with 33 yards on six carries.

      Newsom led the Tiger receiving corps with a career high ten receptions for 106 yards. Sophomore Steve Holmes had four catches for 49 yards while junior Tomba Tongu caught three passes for 33 yards. Lee had three receptions for 25 yards.

      Vaughan led the Spiders’ ground game by rushing for 103 yards on 20 carries. Ward completed 11 of 16 passes for 148 yards and two TD’s. He also ran for 13 yards on five carries.

      Senior linebacker Jordan Manning and freshman Danny Collins led the Tiger defense with seven tackles each.

      The Tigers will try to even their record at 2-2 when they travel to Coastal Carolina University for a non-conference game next Saturday night.

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