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By Marty McGowen

Daniel Smith led a three-touchdown comeback in the last five minutes and Villanova stunned Richmond 34-27 in the Colonial Athletic Association opener for both of the FCS-ranked teams.

The Wildcats had a 13-0 first-half lead that was wiped out by 24 Richmond points in the third quarter. Jake Larson added a fourth-quarter field goal with nine minutes left in the game.

Then Smith and the Wildcats finished a 10-play drive with a 1-yard touchdown run, threw a 44-yard TD pass to Jaaron Hayek followed by a 47-yard score to Rayjoun Pringle to take the lead with 38 seconds left.

Richmond drove into Villanova territory, but Joe Mancuso was intercepted by Darius Pickett to save the Wildcats’ victory.

Aaron Dykes returned the second-half kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown to begin Richmond’s big third quarter.

Following Dykes’ return, Xavier Marshall recovered a fumble by Villanova (3-0, 1-0). That led to Mancuso’s 28-yard TD toss to Isaac Brown. On Richmond’s next possession, Mancuso threw 33 yards to Connor Deveney for a touchdown. Aamir Hall’s interception in the end zone led to Larson’s 43-yard field goal and it was 24-13 after three quarters.

In the first half, it was the Wildcats who used two Richmond (2-1, 0-1) turnovers to score 10 points, including Smith’s 6-yard run right after a Spiders fumble.