In a hard-hitting affair which saw two Elon players sidelined with significant injuries, Richmond barely escaped the barrage of the scrappy Phoenix and literally held on by a fraction of an inch.
Elon missed two late field goals to fall short of upsetting fourth-seeded Richmond in their first postseason appearance since 1981, losing 16-13 in the first round of the 2009 Football Championship Subdivision playoffs at U of R stadium. In a hard-hitting affair which saw two Elon players sidelined with significant injuries, Richmond barely escaped the barrage of the scrappy Phoenix and literally held on by a fraction of an inch.
After last weekend’s hero Andrew Howard missed a 46-yard field goal try, Elon took over on their 29-yard line with 3:43 to play in the game, down by three points. QB Scott Riddle completed four straight passes to move Elon to the Richmond 10-yard line. On 2nd and 3, Riddle overthrew leading receiver Terrell Hudgins on a fade route to the the right hand corner of the end zone. On 3rd and 3, he tried the exact same play, only this time Hudgins caught the ball—albeit out of bounds. It was a borderline call that could have gone either way. If Hudgins was indeed out of bounds it was by no more than the width of his pinky toe. Elon kicker Adam Shreiner then missed a 27-yarder on the next play, and the Spiders took over on downs.
Even then, the game was not over. After holding Richmond to a three-and-out, Riddle again drove the Phoenix to the Spiders’ 31-yard line on three straight completions to give Shreiner one more chance to tie the game from 48 yards out. Senior Parker Miles got a piece of the ball however, and it fell well short.
Richmond had jumped out to a 13-3 halftime lead, with the lone touchdown coming on the first play of the second quarter. Senior QB Eric Ward hit a crease and raced 74 yards for the score. Ward would finish with 136 yards rushing and 140 yards passing, while senior RB Justin Forte added 96 yards on the ground.
After the break, both teams notched field goals before Riddle hit Hudgins for 22-yard touchdown catch to cut the lead to three with nine minutes left in the contest. Riddle finished the game with 309 yards passing while Hudgins had 12 catches for 167 yards and a TD. For most, that is a career-best day. For Terrell Hudgins, the all-time leading receiver in FCS history, that is the 8th time in 12 games this season he has posted double digit catches in a game.
The Spiders held the Phoenix to a net of 27 rushing yards, and held the ball for nearly ten more minutes.
They will host the 5th seeded Appalachian State Mountaineers next Saturday for a rematch of last year’s playoff game that U of R won 33-13 on A-St’s home turf.
(Photo by Chris Farmer)