Football: Season-opening road trip ends with close loss at Richmond

Football: Season-opening road trip ends with close loss at Richmond

Northeastern came close, but not close enough, in their second attempt at their first Atlantic-10 win of the season.

And to make matters worse, they were banged up a bit in the process.

The Huskies (1-4, 0-2 A-10) fell to No. 7 Richmond (4-0, 1-0 A-10) 12-7 Saturday in Richmond, Va. The Spiders scored twelve points in the first quarter and kept NU scoreless until the fourth.

Sophomore quarterback Anthony Orio left the game in the second half with a sprained ankle and was replaced by sophomore John Sperrazza. The Huskies scored their only touchdown with 6:14 remaining in the fourth when Sperrazza handed off to sophomore running back Alex Broomfield, who then connected with redshirt freshman wide receiver Tony Lott who took it 80 yards for the score.

Sperrazza injured a finger in the game, joining Orio and junior running back Maurice Murray as Huskies who have been injured this season.

“It’s too early to tell,” head coach Rocky Hager said of Orio’s ankle. “He was given an x-ray on Sunday to find out if things were still in place and there was significant improvement.”

Despite the loss, there were many positives for the Huskies Saturday. Holding a top-10 team to only 12 points and no scores for three quarters was the most telling statistic of a job well done on defense.

“We had very good control of the line of scrimmage,” Hager said. “They handled the run aggression that Richmond put at us as well and applied some pressure to the quarterback.”

Senior cornerback Louvans Charlot made big plays for the Northeastern secondary, picking off Richmond’s freshman quarterback Eric Ward and recovering a fumble. Junior linebacker Joe Mele also played well, recording eight tackles and a sack.

Despite a number of great plays on offense, the Huskies couldn’t overcome their mistakes in the first quarter, which put them down 12-0.

The Huskies’ first error came on a punt attempt, which was blocked by Richmond’s Michael Ireland and taken nine yards for the touchdown. The Huskies then drove 72 yards, finding themselves within Richmond’s 10-yard line only to see freshman kicker Mat Johnson’s 22-yard field goal attempt get blocked.

Richmond scored on a 43-yard field goal by freshman Andrew Howard at 3:02 left in the first to go up 10-0.

The Spiders would capitalize on another Northeastern special teams error, when a botched snap on a punt attempt sailed out of the end zone to give Richmond a safety, and a 12-0 lead.

“The special teams’ difficulties started the hole that we could not completely dig ourselves out of,” Hager said. “We got blocked because we didn’t use the fundamentals we gave to us, we gave them nine points and that’s why we ended up being on the short end of the score.”

It didn’t help that the Huskies were without their No. 1 quarterback, or a healthy No. 2. Those injuries, plus a Richmond defense loaded to stop Northeastern’s running game, made it difficult for the Huskies to put points on the scoreboard.

“They were bringing both safeties down for run support, and we needed to throw,” Hager said. “Our quarterbacks were not as effective with the injuries.”

The loss was Northeastern’s third in a row, and the last game of their season-opening, five-game road trip. The Huskies play their first home game against Delaware Saturday at Parsons Field at noon.

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