Red Flash fall in crushing fashion
LORETTO — In a game that was similar to week one against Lehigh, a safety to start the contest and a touchdown to end the game turned out to be the difference as Saint Francis fell to Richmond, 35-27, Thursday night.
After Saint Francis took a 27-23 lead with 1:10 left in the game, the Spiders marched down the field on a seven-play, 65-yard drive.
With 1.7 seconds left in the game, Richmond quarterback Kevin Johnson connected with Tyler Wilkins on a go-ahead 6-yard touchdown pass.
The Red Flash had exactly 1 second left on the clock after reclaiming possession and attempted the comeback, but a fumble by Saint Francis was recovered by Richmond defensive end Maurice Jackson, which he took into the end zone as time expired.
“It was hard, but it was a team loss,” Saint Francis wide receiver Zach Campbell said. “Offense could’ve executed more, defense could’ve executed more. It just came down to tonight wasn’t our night.”
Campbell’s 12-yard touchdown reception gave Saint Francis the lead with only a little over a minute to play.
In week one against Lehigh, the Red Flash fumbled on their first possession, which was returned for a touchdown. That game was lost when Saint Francis’ field goal attempt was blocked in the final moments of the game.
The game had an eerily similar feeling Thursday, when the Red Flash allowed points on their first possession and gave up a touchdown to end the game.
“We gotta start paying attention to detail and just start cleaning some things up,” Saint Francis coach Chris Villarrial said. “…This isn’t the end of the world. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but I think it’s a good lesson for us. If we want to compete at a high level, we have to clean some stuff up.”
It was a game that wasn’t supposed to be played until Saturday on the road at Richmond. But due to the threat of Hurricane Florence, the game was moved up north to a sooner date.
With a short week to get prepared for the game, the Red Flash offense was sluggish to start.
After a three-and-out to start its first drive, the team lined up to punt.
Things quickly went array, however, as the snap sailed over the punter’s head and into the end zone, with the play resulting in a safety only 56 seconds into the game.
“We kind of came out flat,” Campbell said of his offensive unit. “We just kind of came together in the huddle and said ‘alright, we have to turn this around.’
Saint Francis quarterback Bear Fenimore said it was tough to find a rythm early in the game.
He said players were not informed of the change in schedule until a mere 24 hours before kickoff.
“We didn’t really know what was happening,” Fenimore said. “The coaches did their best to give us an answer as fast as they can. Unfortunately social media is so crazy now-a-days that you find everything online. I didn’t know until Wednesday around 10 a.m. that we were playing Thursday.”
Villarrial said that even with the change of the date and location messing with the players’ routines, he thought his team adjusted well.
“You just try to simplify things and adjust on the fly,” Villarrial said of only having a short period to prepare for Richmond. “That was our goal going into the game, and I thought the coaches did a tremendous job. We just came up short.”
After eventually getting back into rhythm, the offense finally took flight.
Fenimore finished the game 19-for-33 with 208 passing yards and three touchdowns. He connected twice with his favorite target, Kam Lewis, for touchdowns of 15 and 2 yards in the second half.
But even in a high scoring game, one in which his defense allowed the game-winning score, Fenimore said he believes his defense put together a strong showing.
“The defense played a heck of a game. Don’t let the final score fool you,” Fenimore said. “We done real well in all phases of the game. If anything, we should be proud. [The loss is] going to suck for the first 24 hours, but we have a real special season coming up.”
Saint Francis travels to face Albany Sept. 22 before hosting West Virginia Wesleyan at DeGol Field Sept. 29.
“We went out there and fought as a team and stayed together as a team,” Campbell said. “A few things didn’t do our way, but next week we’ll be back.”
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Richmond 2 7 3 23– 35
St. Francis (Pa.) 0 3 17 7– 27
RICH–Team safety, 14:04.
SFPA–FG Bofenkamp 27, 11:39.
RICH–Brissett 94 kickoff return (Trau kick), 11:27.
SFPA–Lewis 15 pass from Fenimore (Bofenkamp kick), 13:03.
RICH–FG Trau 29, 9:22.
SFPA–Lewis 2 pass from Fenimore (Bofenkamp kick), 5:29.
SFPA–FG Bofenkamp 26, 0:31.
RICH–FG Trau 25, 11:15.
RICH–Simpson 40 pass from Johnson (Reynolds pass from Johnson), 6:42.
SFPA–Campbell 12 pass from Fenimore (Bofenkamp kick), 1:10.
RICH–Wilkins 6 pass from Johnson (run failed), 0:02.
RICH–Jones 29 fumble return, 0:00.
TEAM STATISTICS RICH SFPA
First downs 17 17
Rushes-yards 26-16 34-43
Passing 249 216
Comp-Att-Int 22-29-0 20-34-1
Return Yards 206 64
Punts-Avg. 4-25.8 3-44.7
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1
Penalty-Yards 6-40 4-50
Time of Possession 26:02 33:58
RUSHING–Richmond, G. Collins 7-30, J. Palmer 1-(minus 1), D. Thompson 7-(minus 3), K. Johnson 11-(minus 10). St. Francis (Pa.), J. Jordan-Toney 24-71, J. Denley 4-9, C. Cropper 2-3, K. Lewis 1-(minus 3), B. Fenimore 2-(minus 15).
PASSING–Richmond, K. Johnson 22-29-0-249. St. Francis (Pa.), B. Fenimore 19-33-1-208, K. Lewis 1-1-0-8.
RECEIVING–Richmond, D. Brissett 9-104, C. Simpson 3-58, T. Wilkins 3-26, D. Thompson 3-23, J. Bevels 1-19, C. Drake 2-10, G. Collins 1-9. St. Francis (Pa.), K. Lewis 10-97, C. Holder 5-61, Z. Campbell 2-61, B. Fenimore 1-9, J. Denley 2-1.