UR holds off VMI

Senior WR Tre Gray’s 96-yard, two-touchdown effort helped No. 6 Richmond build a 34-0 lead in third quarter and hold off VMI, 34-19, Saturday night at sold-out Robins Stadium.

Gray, who is averaging 103.3 yards receiving this season, matched his career-high with two touchdown receptions, and moved to a tie for 10th on Richmond’s career list with 12 touchdowns to lead his Spiders (3-0) to their ninth-consecutive win over the Keydets (0-3).

Senior QB Aaron Corp was 12-for-18 passing with 220 yards and two touchdowns and the Spiders feasted on VMI’s first-half miscues to build a 27-0 lead at the half and extend the margin to 34-0 midway through the third quarter.

Richmond opened the scoring with a dazzling special teams play early in the contest when freshman Rodney Barnes busted through the line and swatted away Cameron Murray’s punt. Sophomore WR Ben Edwards scooped up the loose ball and returned it 34 yards for the score.

VMI’s ensuing possession ended when senior S Colin Pehanick forced a Chaz Jones fumble that was pounced on by Jacob Pierce.  Junior K Wil Kamin booted a pair of 31-yard field goals and Gray reeled in a 37-yard TD pass from Corp as the Spiders cashed in 13 points off three VMI fumbles – two of which came on muffed punts.

Gray found paydirt again on a four-yard TD reception to cap a four-play, 77-yard drive before halftime that put Richmond up 27-0.  Two big pass plays set up that score as Corp hit junior TE Kevin Finney for 11 yards on second-and-17 and then connected with redshirt freshman WR Stephen Barnette for a 69-yard strike on third-and-six.

Finney finished with four catches for 28 yards, while Barnette established a career-high with 89 yards on three grabs.  All three of Barnette’s catches moved the chains – two came on third-and-long situations.

Pehanick finished with six tackles, forced a fumble and recovered another.  Junior LB Darius McMillan was in on a team-leading 11 tackles, while senior DB Tremayne Graham had eight stops and broke up three passes.

But VMI didn’t go quietly.  A 74-yard kickoff return by Tracy Hairston resulted in a 28-yard field goal with seven minutes left in the third quarter that snapped the shutout.

A 21-yard touchdown strike from Eric Kordenbrock to Hairston made it 34-10 with 11:17 left and things got dicey when Kordenbrock hooked up with Mario Thompson for a 70-yard TD pass less than three minutes later.

Richmond punted on the ensuing drive and a 47-yard return from Trent White, along with a Spider penalty gave VMI first-and-goal at the nine.  But Richmond’s defense bowed up, stopping Jones on third-and-goal at the one and forcing an incompletion on fourth down with five minutes left.

Richmond took a safety on punt in their end zone, and then stopped VMI again with just over a minute remaining to put the victory on ice.

Kordenbrock finished 15-of-35 passing for 231 yards and two touchdowns, while Thompson finished as the game’s leading receiver with two catches for 114 yards. Hairston rolled up 212 all-purpose yards thanks to his 55 yards through the air and 157 more on five kickoff returns.

For Richmond, junior Kendall Gaskins rushed 14 times for 67 yards and his third touchdown in as many games this season.  Senior Garrett Turner carried for a career-high 21 times for 79 yards.

The Spiders are 3-0 for the first time since opening the 2009 season 8-0 and open CAA Football play next Saturday versus New Hampshire at Robin Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. on Family Weekend.


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