Courtesy of Elon Athletics
RICHMOND, Va. â€“ The first game in the history of Richmondâ€™s Robins Stadium was a memorable one which featured two scores in the final two minutes and an overtime period. Unfortunately for seventh-ranked Elon, the ninth-rated Spiders scored overtimeâ€™s only points for a 27-21 victory. In the loss, Elonâ€™s Aaron Mellette set a new program record with 18 receptions, surpassing the mark of 16 catches set by Terrell Hudgins on three separate occasions.
With the game tied at 14, the Richmond Spiders went 76 yards in 18 plays to take a 21-14 lead with just 1:41 left to play in the fourth quarter, but saw the Elon Phoenix march right back down the field and tie the game on an athletic grab by Mellette as time expired in regulation.
The Phoenix (1-2) got the ball to start the overtime period and lined up for a 37-yard field goal attempt by Adam Shreiner. The kick came out low and was blocked by Richmondâ€™s Casey Cooley.
Richmond (1-1) took its overtime possession and gained nine yards on a Tyler Kirchoff run to move the ball to the Elon 16 on its first play. Kirchoff found the end zone on the next play, driving 16 yards for the rushing score to give the Spiders the victory.
â€œIt was a very memorable football game,â€ stated Elon head coach Pete Lembo. â€œIâ€™m just disappointed to be on the short side of it. I was really pleased with how we came out and scored early and set the tone and tried to quiet the crowd down a little bit. I thought we struggled a little bit on offense in the second half. We tried to create some momentum with the fake punt, but it wasnâ€™t enough to get some more points on the board.â€
The first drive in Robins Stadium resulted in an Elon touchdown after the Phoenix marched 80 yards on eight plays, seven of which were passes. Scott Riddle found Lance Camp for a 12-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage. Riddle threw on the next five plays, completing each to move the ball down to the Richmond 25. A.J. Harris got the first carry of the game on the next play, gaining nine yards to the 16 before Riddle threaded a laser through multiple Spider defenders to Mellette for the score.
On the fourth play of Richmondâ€™s opening drive, the snap went past Spider quarterback Aaron Corp and was recovered by Elonâ€™s Travis Greene at the Richmond 34 to give the Phoenix prime field position. Elon was unable to capitalize on the turnover, however, as Shreinerâ€™s 27-yard field goal attempt clanged off of the left upright.
Richmond faced a third-and-11 on the first play of the second period and gained 10 yards before going for it on fourth down from its own 45-yard line. The Spiders gained four yards on the carry by Kendall Gaskins to move the chains. Corp then completed passes of 19 and 22 yards to Tre Gray and Kevin Grayson, respectively, as the Spiders moved to the Elon 10. On third-and-goal from the five, Corp hit Grayson with the tying score with 12:17 to play in the first half.
After a 24-yard kickoff return from Kierre Brown gave Elon the ball at its own 33, Riddle connected with Mellette who raced downfield for a gain of 33 yards to Richmondâ€™s 34-yard line. Elon picked up another two first downs to get to the Richmond 12. On second down, Riddle hit Sean Jeffcoat for six yards to the six. After a timeout, Riddle found Harris for a six-yard TD strike to cap a nine-play, 67-yard drive as the Phoenix moved back on top 14-7.
The Phoenix had Richmond backed up after a personal foul penalty that put the Spiders in a second-and-24, but Richmond gained five yards on second down before picking up 23 yards on third-and-19 to keep the drive alive. Elon again had Richmond in a third-and-long later in the drive, but Corp scrambled for 13 yards and another Spider first down at the Elon 31. Elon looked to have Richmond stopped on a third-and-seven, but was flagged for a penalty that extended the drive and gave the Spiders a first down at the Elon six. After a loss of three on first down, Garrett Wilkins rushed nine yards to even the score back up at 14-14 with just 1:18 to play in the first half. The Richmond drive covered 83 yards and took 8:03 off the clock.
In the first 30 minutes of play, Elon outgained Richmond in total yardage by a 221-156 margin. Elon converted five of its six third downs while Richmond was successful on four of its eight third down attempts.
For the Phoenix, Mellette gained 114 receiving yards on nine catches while Riddle completed 19 of his 29 attempts for 196 yards in the first half.
The Spiders began their second drive of the half at their own 30 before driving down to the Elon 22. John Laub, in for Corp who went out with an injury earlier in the drive, was then picked off by Greene who returned the ball to the Elon 26. It was the first career interception for Greene.
After Elon had to punt, Richmond moved to the Elon 35 where the Spiders faced a fourth-and-two with 2:29 to play in the third quarter. Richmond picked up its second fourth down conversion of the game when Laub found Kendall Gaskins for a gain of seven. Chandler Wrightenberry put an end to Richmondâ€™s scoring threat when he intercepted a Laub pass at the two-yard line and returned it to the Elon 13.
Richmond continued to convert on third downs when Corp hit Gray for 11 yards on third-and-six as the Spiders moved to the Elon 48. On second-and-10, the Phoenix was called for a penalty that moved the ball to the Elon 33 with just over five minutes to play. On yet another third-and-long, Richmond converted, gaining 17 yards on a pass to Gray that put the ball at the Elon 14. Facing a second-and-16, Elon was flagged for a pass interference call that gave the Spiders a first down at the 15. On the next play, Richmond was called for a hold that backed the ball up to the Elon 23 before the Spiders were hit with a delay of game penalty that put the ball at the 28. Richmond would line up for a 42-yard field goal with 2:06 remaining in the fourth quarter. Wil Kaminâ€™s kick spilt the uprights, but the Phoenix was flagged for a penalty that gave Richmond a first down at the 12-yard line. On third down from the six, Gaskins raced in for the go-ahead score as the Spiders took their first lead of the day at 21-14 with 1:41 to go.
The Phoenix answered, marching 79 yards on 12 plays to even the score as time expired. On the drive, Riddle found Mellette four times for a total of 42 yards, including the 25-yard TD throw in the back corner of the end zone to cap the drive. Jeffcoat also snared two balls for 17 yards during the game-tying possession.
Mellette had a career day for the second consecutive outing. The sophomore finished the day with 18 grabs for 195 yards and two touchdowns. The Elon-record 18 receptions are tied for the second-most in Southern Conference history with Chattanoogaâ€™s Alonzo Nix (vs. Wofford on Oct. 4, 2003) and just two shy of the SoCon record of 20 held by Richmondâ€™s Walker Gillette (vs. Ohio on Dec. 27, 1968). Riddle recorded the 18th 300-yard passing effort of his career, throwing for 319 yards on 34 completions. His 55 passing attempts were a career-high.
Richmondâ€™s Corp ended the day with 207 passing yards, completing 19 of his 32 attempts. Gray and Grayson both had six catches for 73 and 57 yards, respectively.
Defensively, Elonâ€™s Ronnie Hardison tallied 11 stops, a personal best, while Terell Wilson made a career-high 10 tackles. Greene had one interception, recovered a fumble and made seven tackles.
For the Spiders, Darrius McMillan led the team with 10 tackles.
Richmond converted nine of their 18 third down attempts on the day.
Elon is now 3-4 all-time in overtime contests, but had won two straight when going to extra time. The last OT game for Elon was on Oct. 13, 2007 â€“ a 36-33 double overtime decision over Georgia Southern.