Gardner-Webb kicker Jason Day made his fourth field goal of the game with 29 seconds remaining to lift the Runnin’ Bulldogs over Richmond, 12-10. Richmond beat Gardner-Webb, 41-8, last season at E. Claiborne Robins Stadium.
Richmond head coach Danny Rocco said Richmond had not been prepared to play and that the Spiders may have had some trouble getting over last week’s loss to North Carolina State.
“It’s my job to get [the players] ready to play, and we weren’t ready to play,” Rocco said.
Linebacker Walt Sparks said the team was pretty down after losing two consecutive heartbreakers but was ready to focus on the next game.
Unlike last week against North Carolina State, Richmond trailed for the majority of the Gardner-Webb game, but the Spiders took the lead with 2:06 remaining on a 9-yard touchdown reception by tight end Sam Roller. The senior captain broke his ankle when he landed and was carted off the field.
“[Roller] goes hard every play, and he plays hard for our team,” Sparks said. “It’s real sad to see him have to go out like that, but it was a great catch at a great time.”
JJ Hubbard returned the ensuing kickoff 51 yards to give Garnder-Webb good field position. Gardner-Webb moved the ball 34 yards in seven plays to set up Day’s 30-yard game-winning field goal.
Quarterback Michael Strauss and wide receiver Stephen Barnette carried the Spiders down the field on Richmond’s final drive to set up a last-second field goal attempt, but Brandon Jordi’s 43-yarder fell short and veered left as time expired.
Richmond’s offense was playing without wide receiver Ben Edwards and offensive lineman Nick Ritcher. The Spiders were four for 13 on third-down conversions and gained just 10 total rushing yards.
“We had nothing tonight,” Rocco said. “We couldn’t quite get any big chunks [of yards] out on the perimeter, and we probably would have needed some big chunks.”
Strauss (305 passing yards and one touchdown) and Barnette (12 receptions and 182 yards) were the lone bright spots on the Spiders offense, though Barnette did have a key fumble while the Spiders were driving in the second quarter.
“They were stopping the run game and putting us in tough positions on third down,” Barnette said. “It took us too long to click on offense.”
The Spiders’ defense, which played most of the game without Kerry Wynn who left in the first quarter with a sprained ankle, did not allow a touchdown despite allowing Gardner-Webb to get in or near the red zone five times.
Day, who attempted his first career collegiate field goals against the Spiders, scored all of Gardner Webb’s points and averaged 40 yards on his six punts.
The Spiders will look to bounce back next week at Robins stadium against Liberty. Rocco coached at Liberty before coming to Richmond last season.