On a cold and rainy day in Richmond, Villanova and Richmond played one of the sloppiest games in recent memory. While some might call the 10-9 Spiders victory a defensive slugfest, it was more like a rock fight. It started ugly, and ended ugly as it felt like a game that would be decided by who could screw up the least.
Richmond's first drive stalled and 47-yard field goal attempt by Peter Yoder was no good to give Villanova early momentum. John Robertson converted an early 4th and short, but on the next play Sam Venuto called a reverse to Chris Polony, who under serious pressure chucked it downfield in to double-coverage looking for Kevin Gulyas. Predictably, it was underthrown and easily intercepted by Ayo Ogunniyi.
The turnovers didn't stop there. After Richmond went 3 and out, CJ Logan ran in to Poppy Livers as he attempted to field a punt and the Spiders recovered to set themselves up in Villanova territory. The Villanova defense responded quickly, with Jason Ceneus high-pointing the football for a big interception at the 10-yard line to halt the drive.
After the Wildcats drive stalled, it was Richmond's turn for a special teams miscue. Backpedaling, Dominique Miller couldn't field the punt and Rob Rolle recovered the ball to set up the Wildcats with 1st and goal. On 3rd and goal, John Robertson threw just his second interception of the season as Eric Wright baited Robertson and picked it off in the end zone.
Richmond was finally able to put a good drive together, with the big play coming on a 42-yard completion to Brian Brown. But on 3rd and goal, Michael Rocco fumbled the snap and Pat Williams recovered at the 1-yard line. All told, each team turned the ball over 3 times for one of the sloppiest quarters of football in memory.
The 2nd quarter didn't get much better. John Robertson and the Villanova offense continued to struggle as they couldn't generate anything. Richmond continued to bail them out, with Yoder's second field goal attempt missing wide right from 46 yards.
Late in the first half, John Robertson finally put a good drive together, hitting Austin Medley and Poppy Livers on critical third downs to put the 'Cats in the red zone. The Spiders' defense stood tall, so Andy Talley opted to allow Steve Weyler to attempt a 24-yard field goal. Weyler's kick was true to give Villanova a 3-0 lead heading in to the half.
Robertson was just 6-10 for 71 yards and 1 INT in first half, while Kevin Monangai recorded 11 carries for 37 yards as Richmond outgained the Wildcats 202-135. Cameron McCurry was at the heart of the Villanova defense with 10 first half tackles.
The second half started poorly for Villanova. A 3 and out was followed by punter John Hinchen bobbling a snap and illegally kicking the ball off the ground to give Richmond the ball at the 'Nova 6-yard line. The defense came through yet again, with Dillon Lucas getting the sack on 3rd and goal to force a Richmond field goal. Yoder converted on his third try from 37 yards to knot the game at 3.
On the next Wildcats drive, Ross Hall had to leave the game with what looked to be a mildly serious leg injury. Peter Sotiriou came in, and a couple of plays later Robertson hit Poppy Livers for a 41-yard gain to put the 'Cats in the red zone. Lincoln Collins came up big twice - first on 3rd down to keep the drive alive, and then he caught a 5-yard touchdown catch on an amazing grab to put the Wildcats ahead. Naturally, Steve Weyler missed the extra point giving Villanova a 9-3 lead.
Richmond responded on the very next drive. Rocco orchestrated a nice drive down the field hitting several receivers for moderate gains before he pummeled over Cameron McCurry for a 15-yard touchdown run to give Richmond a 10-9 lead late in the third quarter.
Richmond was threatening to stretch their lead after Rocco directed an impressive drive that started at their own 3-yard line, but on 3rd and goal Dillon Lucas got home on a blitz and forced Rocco's throw to go straight up in the air. Don Cherry happily grabbed his first career INT to stop the Spiders' drive cold early in the 4th quarter.
John Robertson couldn't do anything with the gift though as his struggles continued. He had Livers streaking open down the seam for what would have been an easy touchdown, but overthrew him badly. The 'Cats had to punt it away again and ask their defense to continue to hold firm.
The Wildcats defense forced Richmond in to multiple 3 and outs, but the Villanova offense couldn't get anything going. John Robertson played well below his standard, missing several key throws throughout the afternoon. The final straw came when he missed a wide open Mike Burke on 4th and 5. Richmond was able to run out the clock for the 10-9 win. Robertson finished 12-25 for 139 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. He also carried the ball 22 times for 65 yards.
The win moved Richmond to 7-2 overall and 4-1 in the CAA. The loss dropped Villanova to 7-2 and 4-1 in the CAA. Villanova returns to action next weekend when they host Towson at 7pm ET on Saturday at Villanova Stadium.