Story and photo courtesy of Richmond Athletics
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - The No. 20-ranked Richmond Spiders football team claimed a share of the CAA Football conference championship on Saturday afternoon, defeating rival William & Mary, 21-14. With the victory, Richmond ends the regular season with a final record of 8-3 and a CAA mark of 6-2.
Earning Capital Cup MVP honors was senior FB Kendall Gaskins, who ran for 73 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries while also catching a 7-yard touchdown pass. QBMichael Strauss threw for 222 yards and a score, while WR Ben Edwards reeled in a career-high 13 passes for 96 yards.
Defensively, senior LB Darius McMillan had a team-high 10 tackles, while DB Cooper Taylor had seven stops and a pair of pass breakups. DB Reggie Barnette had five solo tackles and the game-clinching interception for the Spiders.
Richmond got off to a terrific start in Williamsburg, using the first drive of the game to take an early, 7-0 lead. Strauss was perfect on the 14 play, 75-yard drive, going 7-for-7 for 63 yards, while Gaskins plowed his way in to the end zone from 1-yard out for the score.
Richmond's defense got in the act next, getting a huge stop to keep William & Mary off the scoreboard. After the Tribe was able to get down the field, the Spiders forced a 4th-and-goal at the 1-yard line. The Richmond defense plowed through the W&M offensive line, stopping the run in the backfield to stop the Tribe drive.
Not to be outdone, Spiders special teams got into the action in the second quarter. After the defense forced a 3-and-out, W&M muffed the punt in its own end zone. DB DeShawn Holmes jumped on the loose ball to record his first career touchdown.
After William & Mary cut the lead to 14-7 on a 27-yard Sean Ballard touchdown reception, the Spiders responded with a scoring drive of their own. A 7-yard pass from Strauss to Gaskins ended the nine play, 50-yard for Richmond with a touchdown. At halftime, Richmond led the Tribe, 21-7.
The third quarter was a defensive battle, with neither team able to put any points on the board. William and Mary was able to strike quickly in the fourth quarter, however, cutting the Richmond lead to just seven.
Like it had on two previous occasions, the game came down to a final throw into the end zone. From 43-yards out, W&M heaved one last pass looking for the tying score, but Barnette was able to intercept the ball, securing the win and the Capital Cup for the Spiders, 21-14.
The Richmond Spiders will now await their playoff fate. The FCS Selection Show will air on ESPNU tomorrow at 1:30 p.m.