Caught in the Web
Remember the swell of pride and support Richmonders threw behind Elliott Yamin in his bid to win American Idol?
Well, here we are again. The national spotlight shines on the University of Richmond Spiders tomorrow in their quest for a national football championship. It’s great when the whole city can get behind something, and this is the ticket.
The Spiders (11-2) play two-time defending champion Appalachian State (11-2) at 8 p.m. in Boone, N.C. The game will be televised on ESPN2 with the winner advancing to the NCAA Division I-AA title game on Dec. 14 in Chattanooga, Tenn. Delaware and Southern Illinois play in the other semifinal.
If you remember, Appalachian State stunned the college football world with a Labor Day weekend beating of the University of Michigan in the Big House. Some have called the victory the greatest upset in college football history.
The Mountaineers are 37-6 over the past three seasons and have won 34 of 35 home games. They are led by sophomore quarterback Armanti Edwards and running back Kevin Richardson.
The Spiders have won eight games in a row and defeated Wofford, 21-10, last weekend in Spartanburg, S.C. Star running back Tim Hightower scored two touchdowns and Michael Ireland recorded an interception and recovered a fumble. Quarterback Eric Ward finished 20 of 30 for 181 yards and a touchdown.
“We thought we played an excellent football team tonight,” said coach Dave Clawson after the game. “Appalachian will be a good challenge for us. They are good and we know it is a tough place to play. (But) you could tell us we were going to Russia right now and we would be thrilled.”
I graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University and hate everything UR. I hate their pretty little campus. I hate how their fans would chant “SAT” to VCU players back in the day at the Robins Center. I hate how their students sat on plush lawns while we chafed our butts on concrete. I hate how their basketball team has beaten powerhouses in the NCAA Tournament, including wins against No. 2 seed Syracuse in 1991 and defending national champion Indiana in 1988.
But all that gets put aside tomorrow as this gutsy team represents our city in one of the most significant sporting events in Richmond’s history. I know Virginia Union has won several basketball national championships, but this is football, America’s game.
The Spiders are a balanced team. They score 34.9 points per game, third best in the Colonial Athletic Association. They are second best in the CAA in scoring defense (21.5 per game) and sacks (37). This team likes to be methodical on offense and attack opponents on defense.
The team in some ways reflects our fair city’s fiercest traits. We have a conservative, measured approach to things. Before making big changes, we like to make sure everything is in place and go about it in a systematic pace. But if people threaten us, our defense is to gouge out their eyes (I’m thinking politicians and NASCAR drivers here).
And for you VCU grads who think I’ve turned John Walker Lindh, consider this. Richmond will never beat us in football. And at our current pace, they won’t ever beat us again in basketball either.
OUT AT HOME: I told my wife recently that “real men” have big HD televisions. She thought about it and agreed. What a great wife. So I went and got a Best Buy credit card. I have been shopping around and this is the one I want. But that’s out of my price range. So this is the one I’m going to get. What a beauty!
VIDEO OF THE WEEK: This referee paid homage to one of the greatest rulings ever. All hail Ben Dreith!