Pregame- Welcome Spider fans to our first look at 2014-15 Richmond Spiders football. We’re about five minutes away from start time of the annual spring football game. Offense and defense will play four 12-minute quarters under a running clock. The scoring format is as follows: The offense will earn points for first downs (1 pt.), extra points (1 pt.), two-point conversions (2 pts.), field goals (3 pts.) and touchdowns (6 pts.). The defense will earn points for forced punts (1 pt.), tackles for loss (1 pt.), pass break-ups (1 pt.), missed field goals (2 pts.), fourth down stops (2 pts.), sacks (2 pts.), two-point conversion stops (2 pts.), three downs and out (3 pts.), takeaways (3 pts.) and touchdowns (7 pts.).
I don’t know about you but I’m looking forward to checking out the battle between Michael Strauss and Michael Rocco at quarterback.
1st quarter, 12:00: Strauss opens the game as quarterback and completes his first pass of the game to Stephen Barnette. Look for Barnette catching all next season no matter who the quarterback is.
1st quarter, 10:36: The spiders offense stalls after a couple short runs and a missed long shot from Strauss to Barnette.
1st quarter, 10:10: Michael Rocco is now in as quarterback, taking over on the thirty. Rocco’s first pass is caught by Reggie Diggs just along the sideline. Rocco goes right back to him on 3rd and 3, but the defense is all over it. Defensive back Trevor Jones breaks up the third down pass, and we’ll punt again. No return.
1st quarter, 8:51: Strauss comes in and runs an end around to wide receiver Brian Brown. Gains two yards. Stephen Barnette makes a six-yard catch with a defender all over his back for the first down, and backs it up with another first down catch for 12 yards.
1st quarter, 6:42: Justin Williamson bats a pass up into the air at the line of scrimmage and it falls right into the arms of linebacker Sean Ryan. That’ll be an interception for the defense, making it an 8-4 defensive lead.
1st quarter, 5:59: Kyle Lauletta in as quarterback. Lauletta saw little game time last season, and looks like it on his first two snaps here. While there was some pressure from the D-line, his first throw missed the intended receiver by about five yards. He fumbled his second snap, but managed to recover it, and it’ll be a three and out.
1st quarter, 4:55: Rocco and the offense take over on the 30-yard line. Make that the 25 after a first snap false start, and then right back to the 30 as Rocco hits Rashad Ponder for five yards.
1st quarter, 4:00: Michael Rocco throws a beautiful pass to Barnette, hitting him just over the defensive back for a gain of 20.
1st quarter, 3:40: A perfectly executed trick play by the Spiders. Rocco lateraled to Barnette who hit tight end Christian Conklin in stride for 42-yard touchdown. Barnette might have just entered himself into the quarterback competition.
1st quarter, 3:32: The Spiders go for two with David Broadus as quarterback, but he’s sacked by Kieran Gregory. Broadus stays in to quarterback the next offensive possession.
1st quarter, 1:25: Broadus hits Conklin on back-to-back plays, moving the Spiders to the 32-yard line. Running back Jeremiah Hamlin breaks off a six-yard run for the biggest running play of the game, but redshirt freshman Porter Abell runs with the ball off the snap and get dropped for a loss by defensive back Trevor Jones.
End of the 1st: The Spiders defense has gotten consistent pressure on the quarterback and shown some pass breakup ability. The offense is clearly trying to speed up the tempo on every play and has huddled very little throughout the game so far. Hard to pick a stand-out player on offense, as there hasn’t been too much success so far. I’ll give a shout-out to the tight ends, Hunter Westfall, Chris Conklin and Will McCombs (also line up at wide receiver) though for a nice touchdown catch from Barnette and a few solid grabs over the middle.
2nd quarter, 00:22: FINALLY back after some massive technical difficulties. It’s the practice game for us reporters too, I suppose.
2nd quarter, 00:03: Rocco spikes the ball to give Peter Yoder a shot at a 33-yard field goal. He nails it. So far the new kicking squad has been great, knocking down two more than 30-yard field goals and every extra point opportunity.
End of the 2nd: While the live blog was down, the Spiders offense picked it up a bit from the first. Kyle Lauletta looked like a completely different quarterback on his second drive. He hit tight end Will McCombs four times in six plays to drive the length of the field, scoring on the fourth. Lauletta threw into triple coverage from twelve yards out. After a jump ball between all four players, McCombs showed up in the back of the end zone with a beautiful grab and a touchdown.
Strauss had a rough possession with about two minutes left. His first pass was tipped over the middle, he overthrew Rashad Ponder along the sidelines on his second play, and Justin Williamson just obliterated Strauss’ third pass at the line for his second deflection of the game.
Rocco took over for the final possession of the first half and showed good chemistry with McCombs as well, opening up with a more than 20-yard pass over the middle, and hits him perfectly on a deep route one play later. The second pass was dropped in just over the defender and McCombs made the catch across his body.
Overall, the Spiders offense has thrown 34 passes to 16 rushes, no surprise after the pass-heavy offense from last year and the relatively underwhelming performance on the ground so far today.
Score: Offense-32 Defense-22.
3rd quarter, 11:51: David Broadus ran a reverse to Porter Abell who gained about eight yards before fumbling. Fullback James Pavik managed to recover the loose ball and gain another five or six yards. All of a sudden the offense is right back in the red zone.
3rd quarter, 8:32: Broadus comes back in after a couple Strauss completions to run off the snap on second and two. He’ll get one and stay in for third and one. A false start backs up the ball and brings Strauss back into the game facing third and six.
3rd quarter, 7:00: Strauss throws a perfect pass over the middle to Rashad Ponder for a touchdown. Spiders offense goes up 41-23. Strauss looked much more settled in then his last possession.
3rd quarter, 6:21: Redshirt freshman Porter Abell takes a direct snap around the edge for a gain of four. Between the end arounds, reverses and Broadus taking the short yardage runs himself, it’s clear the Spiders are looking for some answer for the running game weakness.
3rd quarter, 4:14: Kyle Lauletta comes in and promptly gives the ball right to the defense. Defensive line Andrew Tallman picked it out of the air from the middle. Rocco takes over for the offense, and hits Barnette on a perfect comeback route along the left sideline for a first down and a point.
3rd quarter, 00:59: T.J. Moon takes a hand off to the outside for a gain of five, but is dropped at the line trying to go the other way on the next snap. Running game continues to be quiet.
End of the 3rd: We’re going to the final quarter at the Robins Stadium with the offense up 45-27. The up-tempo, air-it-out Spiders offense has looked solid this half. As for the quarterback competition, without bringing in any stats to it, Rocco has the edge right now. His timing overall has been good, he’s dropped some nice passes in over defenders and shown focus while pressured by the D-Line. Strauss hasn’t looked awful by any means, but at least for now, looks a step behind.
4th quarter, 8:11: First field goal hiccup of the day. Peter Yoder misses a short try wide left and Lauletta takes over from the third.
4th quarter, 5:48: No. 22 Jeremiah Hamlin breaks off a 32-yard carry for the biggest running contribution of the day. He takes the next two snaps as well gaining six and five for another first down. While the running game hasn’t done too much, Hamlin has had a few nice runs today.
4th quarter, 4:01: Hamlin gains another six and then Abell comes in to run it off the snap for six as well. That’s another first down for the offense and the running game.
4th quarter, 2:14: Broadus comes in to take over from the three-yard line. Surprising no one, Broadus keeps it in the short yardage situation and gains two. The Spiders have a one-yard shot at the end zone, but a delay of game backs them up. It’s the spring game and all, but that’s a penalty that can’t happen on the one-yard line.
4th quarter, 00:01: Yoder nails a 26-yard field goal to end the spring game. The offense wins the day 51-29 after heating up in the second half. That’s a wrap here for The Collegian live blog. Check back for further coverage of the spring game later tonight.