Janine brings us a student perspective on Saturday’s atmosphere, tailgaiting, and overtime win against the #7 ranked Elon Phoenix.
Saturday afternoon was the first football game on the University of Richmond campus in over 80 years, with #9 University of Richmond taking on #7 Elon. In the weeks leading up to the game, the entire campus had an air of excitement and anticipation. Students purchased online tickets at the stroke of midnight two weeks prior to the game, University emails were sent out about parking, tailgating, policies and procedures. Campus was buzzing with questions and plans surrounding the opening of E. Claiborne Robins Stadium. Students and staff had no idea what to expect on a Richmond football game day—at a school of only 2,900 undergraduate students, traffic patterns and crowd control are hardly common
The morning of the inaugural game at E. Claiborne Robins Stadium was complete with beautiful weather and intense excitement. The temperature was in the high 70’s, perfect for grilling and corn hole. There was tailgating throughout campus, at University apartments, parking lots, and fraternity lodges. The crowds consisted of students, alumni, faculty, and community fans. The police had a noticeable appearance around campus, keeping a watchful eye on the game day festivities. However, the overall campus environment seemed to be positive and spirited, with hardly any apparent issues.
Surprisingly, the campus was noticeably lacking in its typical sundresses and bow ties. In lieu of the typical horserace-like attire were bright red “Richmond Rowdies” t-shirts and blue face paint. The shift from a stadium in Carytown to one on campus was accompanied by a significant shift in the all-around student atmosphere. In years past, University of Richmond football games have often seemed to be an excuse to dress in pearls and tailgate, with little intention of actually entering the stadium for the game. At the inaugural on-campus game, this all changed drastically.
As a senior at the University of Richmond, I was thrilled to see the university infiltrated with school spirit and a much-needed appreciation for our football team. The student section of the stadium (located directly under the impressively high-quality jumbo-tron) was extraordinarily packed and equally as loud, with reportedly almost 2,200 of the 2,900 undergraduates in attendance. In addition to the quantity of students in attendance, the University of Richmond student section, dubbed “The Web,” was a sea of red and blue, as opposed to the pastel dresses, button-down shirts, and pearls so typical of University of Richmond football games. Redshirt Senior linebacker Patrick Weldon commented “The players were all really excited when we saw everyone wearing red. It really helped accelerate school spirit.”
In an appropriately dramatic manner, the game ball was delivered to the field by skydivers, elevating the enthusiasm already running rampant throughout the stands, which were reportedly filled with 8,700 people. The game started slowly for the spiders, with Elon making the first strike with a 16-yard pass into a touchdown. By the second quarter, however, the nerves seemed to settle and #7 Aaron Corp made a 5-yard pass to #1 Kevin Grayson for a touchdown. Overall, the Richmond Spiders scored two touchdowns in the second quarter. Both teams kept it tight, entering half time with a tie score of 14 – 14.
The majority of the third quarter was shaky, as the highly-anticipated transfer quarterback Aaron Corp left the game. The Spiders were able to hold back the Pheonix, making for a scoreless third quarter.
By the fourth quarter, the team adjusted, Aaron Corp returned, and they were picking up steam. #27 Kendall Gaskins made an 8-yard run to score a Spiders touchdown, making the score 21-14. In the end of the fourth quarter, the Spiders were up 7 points with 2 seconds to go. The crowd was going wild, ready to celebrate their first home victory. Two seconds on the clock…and Elon scored a touchdown. The extra point was good and the score was tied 21-21. The crowd went silent.
Elon’s touchdown in the end of the fourth quarter forced the game into overtime. In the NCAA rules for overtime, each team gets one drive from the 25 yard line. The Spiders won the coin toss and gave Elon the first drive. Elon’s Adam Schreiner made a 37-yard field goal attempt which was blocked by Richmond’s #92 Casey Cooley. In Richmond’s overtime drive, senior running back Tyler Kirchoff had a 16-yard run, scoring a touchdown, and winning the game with a final score of 27-21. The ending was about as climactic as a football game can get, concluding the inaugural game with the perfect amount of drama and excitement.
Up next, the Richmond Spiders will be hosting the University of Delaware Blue Hens at E. Claiborne Robins Stadium next Saturday, 9/25.