Sunday, November 26, 2023

North Carolina Central Fall to Richmond in FCS First Round

RICHMOND, VA – In a high-scoring first-round FCS playoff showdown, the Richmond Spiders emerged victorious against the North Carolina Central Eagles with a final score of 49-27. The game, filled with explosive plays and offensive fireworks ultimately tilted in favor of Richmond and spoiled the Eagles’ first-ever playoff appearance since moving up to Division 1 in 2011.

The Eagles found themselves trailing early in the first quarter after a 35-yard touchdown pass from Richmond's Kyle Wickersham to Nick DeGennaro, putting them at a 7-0 disadvantage. However, North Carolina Central responded with a gritty 1-yard touchdown run by Davius Richard, bringing the score to 7-6. The Eagles then seized the lead with an electrifying 91-yard touchdown connection between Richard and Devin Smith, ending the first quarter with a 13-7 lead.

Despite Richmond narrowing the gap in the second quarter, with Richard's 18-yard touchdown run making it 20-14, North Carolina Central showcased their offensive capabilities. Richard demonstrated versatility, leading the team with both passing and rushing contributions.

In the third quarter, Richmond took control, scoring three unanswered touchdowns. Savon Smith's 14-yard rushing touchdown and an impressive 65-yard punt return shifted the momentum in Richmond's favor. The Spiders extended their lead further with a 71-yard touchdown pass from Wickersham to Jerry Garcia Jr., entering the final quarter with a 35-20 advantage.

North Carolina Central fought hard in the fourth quarter, with Richard orchestrating a 75-yard drive that culminated in his 2-yard touchdown run, narrowing the score to 35-27. However, Richmond responded with three additional touchdowns, securing the 49-27 win.

Offensively, North Carolina Central's Richard showcased his skills, passing for 262 yards and a touchdown while leading the team in rushing with 51 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Devin Smith was a standout receiver, amassing 202 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, Jayden Flaker led the Eagles with 11 total tackles, demonstrating resilience despite Richmond's offensive onslaught. Despite the loss, North Carolina Central's defense showed glimpses of strength, with Quantez Mansfield making key plays, including 1.5 tackles for loss.

Although the Eagles fell short in this matchup, their tenacity and offensive firepower were evident. As they regroup for upcoming games, North Carolina Central aims to build on the positives from this contest and make strides in the remainder of the season.