The CAA title chase is shaping up to be a real chase as we enter the middle of the conference season as Delaware remains the only unbeaten team in league play at 3-0 while Albany, Monmouth, Elon, Villanova, William and Mary, and Richmond remain just one game back in the loss column. North Carolina A&T and Stony Brook are the only two teams yet to win a conference game.
The 8th-ranked University of Delaware Blue Hens rushed for 322 yards in rainy conditions to win its fourth-consecutive game with a 21-6 Homecoming victory over North Carolina A&T on Saturday afternoon at Delaware Stadium. With the win, the Blue Hens move to 5-1 on the season and 3-0 in the CAA, while the Aggies slip to 1-5 overall and 0-3 in league play.
Playing its first game against Rhode Island since 2015, the University of Richmond football team went on the road and took down the No. 22 Rams Saturday, 24-17. The game marked Richmond’s first road win over a ranked opponent while unranked itself since Oct. 26, 2019 when the Spiders defeated No. 19 Delaware, 35-25. Richmond’s defense carried the momentum throughout, recording six sacks for a total loss of 31 yards including three by Jeremiah Grant. Six sacks are the most in a game by the Spiders since the Nov. 6, 2021, game against Towson.
Fifth year running back TD Ayo-Durojaiye for a career-high three scores, the only three touchdowns in the game to help lead Villanova (5-2, 3-1 CAA Football) to a 21-0 victory over Elon (3-4, 3-1 CAA Football) at a rain-soaked Villanova Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Ayo-Durojaiye was just one part of the Wildcats dominant running game as Villanova rushed for 440 yards in its first shutout victory since a win at Elon two years ago.
Monmouth University (3-3, 2-1 CAA) registered its second consecutive win with a dominating performance against Coastal Athletic Association foe Hampton (3-3, 1-2 CAA), 61-10. The Hawks set records in the contest including longest kickoff touchdown return, most team rushing touchdowns, and most points at home. Jaden Shirden averaged 17.2 yards per carry, finishing with 276 yards and a career-high four touchdowns on 16 carries. After Hampton took a 3-0 lead on the opening drive, Monmouth scored the next 41 points while forcing a pair of turnovers.
Richmond at North Carolina A&T 1:00pm FloFootball
Delaware at Hampton 2:00pm FloFootball
Monmouth at Elon 2:00pm FloFootball/WMYV My48
New Hampshire at Stony Brook 3:30pm FloFootball
Rhode Island at UAlbany 3:30pm FloFootball
Towson at William & Mary 3:30pm FloFootball
Maine at Campbell 4:00pm FloFootball
While a lot of people expected N.C. A&T to get demolished last week at Delaware, the Aggies stayed toe-to-toe with the 8th ranked Blue Hens the entire. And to be truthful if the Aggies had not suffered untimely turnovers in critical moments on a pair of early offensive drives deep into the Delaware red zone in the first half, the outcome could have easily swung the other way.
And while moral victories are as about as impactful as confederate money, I think it showed that A&T as a football program is not that far away from getting back to the level of a program that had consistently won an average of 9 games per a year since 2014. The young A&T defense, while not necessarily tearing up yardage allowed stats, they are winning in the statistical category that really counts with coaches in third down efficiency and red zone defense. The Aggies are doing a much better job in getting off the field than it did a year ago allowing opponents just 31-81 (38.27 %) in converting on third downs so far on the season. In 2022, A&T allowed 73-158 (46.20 %) along the same stat line.
In redzone defense in 2022, the A&T defense allowed 35 scoring plays on 39 ventures inside the 25 yard-line with 29 resulting in touchdowns. So far in 2023, the new look 3-4 multiple scheme is beginning to show dividends and is ahead of schedule with just 21-27 scoring trips inside the redzone while allowing just 15 TDs in that number.
But while A&T’s youth movement on defense appears to be settling in and getting better each week, the A&T offense is still looking for something positive to arise from out its passing game. While protection was having been more than decent for the most part all season, the same old saga of missed reads, dropped passes, and lack of separation from the receivers continues along unchecked.
The Aggies continue to run the ball well as expected but the offense will need to dial it up a notch this week and eliminate turnovers against the Richmond Spiders who themselves had many of the same offensive woes that saddled them with losses to Morgan State, Hampton, and Michigan State before they figured out their passing game against Maine and #22 Rhode Island last week.
The Spiders went through four quarterbacks, three of which were upperclassmen, before settling in on freshman Camden Coleman, a native of Kernersville and a Glenn High School product and they’ll be the first tell you it was difficult losing early to what they believe were lesser teams and especially so since they have 22 fifth or sixth-year players on their roster and were a Top 20 preseason pick.
So, can A&T put together enough together on both sides of ball against what has been a good of late Richmond club at home? The Aggies are due to have at least one game where the offense finds a level of consistency in both running and passing and hanging tough with Delaware on the road may have opened their eyes to the fact the defense is better and if the offense can eliminate turnovers and finally execute the short passing game with some level of proficiency, they could certainly break a few hearts along the way for the remainder of the season.
And it just might be this week. Why not?
N.C. A&T – 25
Richmond – 21