RICHMOND, Va. - The #14 Richmond Spiders scored 14 points in the final 2:19 of the opening half to pull away in a close game, and went on to defeat the VMI Keydets 34-0 in football action Saturday night at Robins Stadium in Richmond, Va. The game was the season opener for both teams.
After the two squads had battled back and forth for the majority of the opening half, with UR (1-0) leading 7-0, Michael Strauss found Ben Edwards for a 59-yard touchdown pass to double the Spiders' lead, 14-0, with 2:19 left in the second quarter. On the next Keydet drive, VMI (0-1) picked up a first down, but the ensuing 1st and 10 pass was deflected off the hand of Derrick Ziglar and intercepted by UR linebacker Walt Sparks. Four plays later, Strauss found Stephen Barnette for a 12-yard touchdown and UR led, 21-0, at halftime.
Only one touchdown, a fourth quarter Richmond TD pass, was scored in the second half after a one hour, 25 minute weather delay. The final score marked the first time VMI had been shut out since Sept. 11, 2010 against then-#11 William & Mary, a span of 31 games. All told, the Keydet offense had been held scoreless just once in VMI's past 92 games, a stretch dating back to Oct. 9, 2004.
In the setback, 10 different Keydets caught passes, led by Ziglar, Jabari Turner and James Rogers with three apiece. Eric Kordenbrock was 18 of 32 for 135 yards and three interceptions, while defensively, Alex James led the way with a career-high 14 tackles. The Keydet defense also forced three turnovers, including two fumbles, one caused by Ty Garvin and the other, in the closing moments, caused by William Hyman.
Richmond, however, held a 539-174 edge in total yards, including a 226-39 advantage on the ground, while Strauss went 23 of 36 (265 yards) and Edwards caught seven passes for 95 yards.
The homestanding Spiders took the opening kickoff and promptly went 77 yards in 12 plays, a drive capped by Strauss' seven-yard touchdown pass to Green. The point after made it a 7-0 Richmond lead, and it would stay that way for more than a quarter. It did so despite the Keydets forcing two turnovers, a Edwards fumble forced by Garvin and a Brendon Bock second quarter interception.
VMI could not take advantage of either, and on the drive after Bock's interception, UR got the ball with 4:33 left in the half. Six plays into the drive, Strauss found Edwards for the 59-yard touchdown, setting up the game's decisive stretch which would include the second touchdown moments later, and the Spiders taking a 21-0 lead into halftime.
At the half, Richmond had outgained VMI 309-60 and had run 26 more plays, thanks to a time of possession edge of 6:32. The teams were unable to start the second half on time, due to lightening in the area that led to a one hour, 25 minute weather delay. That marked the second time in three years that VMI's season opener had been delayed at halftime, an event that also happened in the 2011 opener against Delaware State.
After the Keydets punted the ball away on their first drive of the half, a 53-yard run by UR's Jacobi Green set up a 29-yard Brandon Jordi field goal, pushing the lead to 24-0. Jordi tacked on another kick, this one from 38 yards, later in the quarter, and the Spiders took a 27-0 lead to the final period. There, they added a Kyle Lauletta touchdown pass early in the quarter to account for the final margin, 34-0.
VMI football will return to action next Saturday, when the Keydets play host to Glenville State in VMI's home opener. Opening kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m.