Nov. 22, 2008

Courtesy of Richmond Athletics

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - Andrew Howard drilled a 37-yard field goal in overtime, lifting No. 7 Richmond past No. 16 William & Mary, 23-20, Saturday in the 118th meeting between long-time rivals at Zable Stadium in Williamsburg. The win capped an impressive defensive performance by the Spiders that featured seven takeaways, six interceptions and a blocked field goal in overtime.

The victory - the fifth-consecutive for the Spiders - improved visiting Richmond to 9-3 overall, 6-2 in CAA Football and all but assured the team's second-consecutive playoff berth and third in four years. The Tribe slipped to 7-4, 5-3 as Richmond completed a four-year sweep of W&M for just the third time in school history.

The Spiders had to withstand a second-half rally that saw the Tribe score 20-consecutive points to erase their 20-0 deficit at the half. QB Jake Phillips, who was picked off a career-high six times, snuck in for the tying scoring from one-yard with 18 seconds left in the game, after Derek Cox returned a punt 80 yards with three minutes remaining and W&M recovered the ensuing onside kick.

The game went to overtime, and on their first possession, William & Mary had to settle for a 39-yard field goal try by Brian Pate that was blocked by senior Sherman Logan. Now with the ball and a chance to win, Richmond ran three plays and turned to Howard, who booted the 37-yarder inside the left upright for the game winner.

That kick clinched just the fifth nine-win season in school history and improved the Spiders to 8-1 all-time in overtime.

Although W&M continues to lead the all-time series 59-55-5, the Spiders have won four-straight, five of the last seven and seven of the last 11.

With 134 yards on 30 carries, senior TB Josh Vaughan rushed for his fifth-consecutive 100-yard game with 30 carries for 134 yards, but the Richmond defense was the difference once again.
 
The Spiders forced a season-high seven turnovers, intercepted six passes and limited W&M to just 43 yards rushing on 29 carries. It marked the fifth-consecutive game - and ninth time this season - the Spiders have held an opponent to less than 100 yards rushing.

Justin Rogers had two of the interceptions, broke up a game-high four passes and with six picks this season, the sophomore CB tied with four other Spiders - including head coach Mike London - for fourth on the school's single-season list.

Junior Michael Ireland made a game-high 11 tackles with an interception, while Jordan Shoop, David Horton and Derek Hatcher had the other picks, and Pierre Turner recovered a Phillips' fumble.

The 21 interceptions by the Spiders this season breaks the school record of 20 of held by the 1973 team and the four returned for TD this season ties a school record (1946).

The wild game featured just two offensive touchdowns - Phillips' one-yard plunge to tie it and a fumble recovery in the end zone by Richmond OL Michael Silva to open the scoring after QB Eric Ward fumbled on the goal line.

Phillips finished the game 20-of-46 passing for 204 yards after a forgettable three-of-13 for 15 yards in the first half. Phillips was sacked four times by four different Spiders to go with his six picks.

But Richmond could have put a strangle-hold on the game early. Although leading 20-0 at the half, the Spiders forced five turnovers before the break - four interceptions and a fumble - including a 35-yard interception return for TD by Derek Hatcher that made it 17-0.

A 33-yard field goal from Howard made it 10-0 and the junior made good on an 18-yarder as time expired in the second quarter.

Richmond, which turned the ball over just once (interception), will await Sunday's NCAA Selection Show to learn its postseason draw. ESPNU will air the show live at 7 p.m. ET.