HAMPTON, Va. – The University of Richmond football team (1-1) erased a pair of 14-point deficits on Saturday afternoon and scored the go-ahead score early in the fourth quarter to come away from Hampton (1-1) with a 31-28 victory.
Richmond QB Kyle Lauletta bested his career-high with 247 yards on 20-32 passing with a pair of touchdowns and added 40 yards on the ground. His favorite target for the second-straight game was Brian Brown who caught eight balls for a season-high 108 yards. Reggie Diggs accounted for the game-winning score on a 36-yard catch-and-run with one of his six receptions. Seth Fisher carried the load on the ground with 90 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown while Jacobi Green contributed 49 yards rushing with a touchdown of his own. On the defensive side of the ball it was Omar Howard leading the way with 10 tackles while Winston Craig contributed eight.
“Credit first of all goes to Hampton for responding every time we put something on the board,” Head coach Danny Rocco said. “They were wired in and ready to go and to their credit they battled. The biggest difference was that we couldn’t get the run going in the first half and we turned it around in the second. We began to control the line of scrimmage and execute on defense which led to good things for us.”
The Spiders won the toss for the second week in-a-row and elected to receive this time. After a pair of rushes by Green set up a short third down Lauletta looked right and threw for Diggs but the ball would be picked off and returned deep into Spider territory. On the very next play Hampton QB David Watford threw a touchdown pass, putting Richmond in an early hole.
The next Richmond drive was held up by penalties and on the subsequent Hampton drive it was Watford again delivering his second touchdown pass of the afternoon to put the Pirates ahead by two scores with a little less than seven minutes to play in the first quarter.
After picking up a first down on a catch-and-run by Diggs, Lauletta let loose a deep ball down the left side that found the open arms of Brown who was tackled out of bounds at the 16 for a 42 yard gain. Brown had a catch for 52 yards last week at Maryland.
The Spiders worked their way inside the five-yard line and used a pair of Green rushes up the middle to punch in their first score of the afternoon. Green’s touchdown was the second for the senior already this season and the 14th of his career.
The home-standing Pirates ran the final plays of the first quarter and took possession to begin the second after an extended break during which the officials reviewed a spot. Hampton then went on an extended drive that took up the first 4:27 of the second quarter and resulted in another touchdown, putting Richmond behind 21-7 after the extra point.
Both programs traded short drives and punts until the Spiders broke the drought with their final drive of the first half. The offense worked its way down to the Hampton 27 yard line before getting stalled. On fourth down with the clock winding, PK Peter Yoder took the field and drilled a 44-yard field goal, the longest of his career, to put three points on the board. The opening half would come to a close with Richmond trailing Hampton, 21-10.
Lauletta connected on 6-13 pass attempts in the first half with one interception. Three of those completions went to Brown who collected 62 yards while Diggs caught two balls for 19 yards. Green and backup QB David Broadus led the Richmond attack on the ground with 18 and 15 yards, respectively.
With the second half underway the Pirates took possession but were stopped by the Richmond defense and forced to punt. The Spiders took over deep in their own zone and marched down the field with short passes.
The drive reached the Hampton 33-yard line before the Pirates forced a fourth down decision from head coach Danny Rocco. He would opt to go for it and the choice proved fruitful as Lauletta found Green on the flat for a 17-yard gain. On the very next play Lauletta showed play-action and lofted a ball to Porter Abell who hauled in his first touchdown catch of the season. The two-point conversion was no-good and the Spiders now trailed 21-16.
Hampton responded on its next drive with another Watford touchdown toss, his fourth of the game. With the Spiders trailing 28-16 they would take over on their own 29-yard line after a stellar return from sophomore RB Jeremiah Hamlin.
Green peeled off his longest run of the afternoon (11-yards) on second down then topped it two plays later with a 16-yard scamper that put the Spiders on the Hampton 34. After a three-yard gain on the next play Lauletta found Brown on the right side for a first down. The third quarter came to an end after another Brown reception and on the first play of the fourth RB Seth Fisher pounded home a 12-yard rushing TD. The Yoder extra-point cut the deficit to five, 28-23.
The Pirates started the next drive on their own 20-yard line and drove all the way to the Richmond 35 before getting faced with a fourth-and-five situation. With the wind blowing heavily in the face of the offense Hampton elected to go for it but Watford’s pass went astray, turning the ball over to the Richmond offense.
Lauletta moved the Spiders across mid-field with a series of short passes and with a little over 11 minutes to play in the game the sophomore found Diggs on a short out to the left side. Diggs took over from there, side-stepping a pair of defenders before breaking free for a 36-yard touchdown that gave the Spiders the lead. The two-point try would be unsuccessful but a penalty gave the offense another try. Green pounded the ball in the end zone on the next attempt to push Richmond ahead 31-28 with 10:58 to play.
The Richmond defense stepped up and delivered a stop on the next Hampton possession, never allowing the home squad to cross its own 30-yard line. The offense took over on its own 12 following a 54-yard punt. Fisher began the drive with a punishing 10-yard run for a first down then it was TE Nick Holloway making a seven-yard catch to bring up second and three. Fisher’s number was then called on back-to-back plays and he produced two more Spider first downs. The clock dipped below 6:30 to play before Fisher was finally held without a positive gain.
An incomplete pass and back-to-back penalties backed the Spiders up to their own 22 for a third and 28 play that went to Diggs for a short gain, bringing up fourth down. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was called against the Hampton defense following the third down play that gave Richmond an automatic first down on the 47-yard line.
The Spiders continued to pound with Fisher as the clocked rolled below four minutes to play in the game. A broken play led to a third and 15 but Lauletta took it upon himself on the next play to rush right up the middle for a 19-yard gain and a first down, forcing Hampton to call a timeout with 2:10 to go and the ball on the 22.
Three plays later Richmond was faced with another fourth down situation and rather than kicking the field goal, once again Rocco opted to go for it to seal the game. Lauletta found TE Stephon Jacob over the middle for a six-yard gain and first down that locked this one up. It was the victory formation for Richmond the rest of the way.