December 11, 2015

(STATS) - So much of the early, and negative, talk surrounding the FCS playoffs was centered on all five Missouri Valley Conference qualifiers being placed in one half of the bracket.

Perhaps that stood out to the Richmond Spiders, who on Friday night proved it's much more than just a Missouri Valley party.

The No. 7-seeded Spiders ended No. 2 seed Illinois State's FCS-best 19-game home winning streak as Jacobi Green rushed for 137 yards and scored four touchdowns in a 39-27 quarterfinal-round victory before 5,356 at Hancock Stadium.

Richmond (10-3), the automatic qualifier from the Colonial Athletic Association - which was considered the top FCS conference before the MVC's recent dominance - is back in the semifinals for the first time since its 2008 team captured the national title.

Coach Danny Rocco and the Spiders will learn Saturday which Valley team they'll face next with either a trip to No. 3 seed North Dakota State or a home matchup against Northern Iowa next weekend.

"We just made one more play than them each time," sophomore quarterback Kyle Lauletta said. "It just seemed like when we needed to make the plays and keep the ball ... we kept making that play when we needed to."

The Spiders won their first meeting against MVC co-champion Illinois State with an aggressive game plan. Lauletta consistently burned the Redbirds with downfield passes, completing 18 of 30 attempts for 369 yards, and the Spiders defense held running back Marshaun Coprich, the nation's second-leading rusher, to 30 yards on 14 carries - although he scored on both a run and a reception.

Trailing 32-14 midway through the fourth quarter, Illinois State scored two touchdowns to close within 32-27 with 3:23 left, but Green answered on Richmond's next drive with a clinching, 28-yard touchdown run at the 2:19 mark.

Green had clutch touchdowns all game. Richmond was nursing a 19-14 lead late in the third quarter when the senior turned a screen pass from Lauletta into a 35-yard score and 25-14 lead with 2:53 remaining in the third quarter.

Illinois State had a touchdown pass nullified by a penalty on its next drive. On the ensuing play, Richmond linebacker Omar Howard intercepted Redbirds quarterback Tre Roberson just outside the Spiders' end zone. They converted the turnover into Green's 27-yard touchdown run with 10 minutes left.

Green's first TD capped perhaps the game's pivotal possession late in the first half. Ahead 13-7, Richmond started a drive at its 13 with 2:08 left, but wasn't conservative as Lauletta completed five passes for 83 yards and set up Green for a 2-yard run, which provided a 19-7 lead just before halftime.

Lauletta was knocked briefly from the game during the Spiders' second possession of the game, but backup quarterback David Broadus finished off the drive with a 13-yard touchdown run, increasing their lead to 10-0 with 4:33 left in the first quarter.

Not surprising, Lauletta attacked the Illinois State secondary with his favorite receivers. Brian Brown caught five passes for 141 yards and Reggie Diggs added five receptions for 80 yards. The Spiders finished with 556 offensive yards.

"Our playmakers stepped up and made plays when they needed to, (especially on) a couple of huge third-down conversions," Lauletta said. "It was just one on one, giving (Brown and Diggs) a chance."

Roberson passed for 370 yards, while Anthony Warrum had nine receptions for 152 yards and a touchdown.

Coprich fell short in his bid for a second straight season with over 2,000 rushing yards. He finished with 1,967 yards this season.

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