Trailing 38-17 in the fourth quarter to USC, B.J. Denker scrambled — and then scrambled some more — before finally throwing the ball to the back of the end zone.
Sophomore David Richards jumped up, caught the ball and got one foot in bounds for a 9-yard touchdown to bring the Wildcats within 14 points. It reinforced the nickname he’s earned around the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility: “Big-play Dave.”
“I saw B.J. scrambling and I ran to the back of the end zone, threw my hands up and he threw it and I went and caught it,” Richards said. “I feel like with my size, I can go get the ball. I bring that aspect to this team.”
And it’s an aspect the Wildcats have been missing.
Richards broke his foot in the spring and then, a couple of weeks before fall camp, broke the same foot again. It sidelined him for the first three games of the season and he returned to face Washington. Still not 100 percent, Richards just played on certain packages and then saw a few more plays last week against USC.
Now, the sophomore from Palmdale, Calif., said he’s fully healthy and ready to play as much as coach Rich Rodriguez needs him.
“It feels so good to go out there now and not have to worry about it and just be able to run routes and not have to worry about cutting a certain way and it hurting,” Richards said.
Richards had three catches for 21 yards against the Trojans and will likely be even more involved tonight against the Utes.
“It helps a lot to have him out there,” freshman receiver Nate Phillips said. “He has great hands. That last game B.J. threw one up and he went and made a great catch. It helps to be able to stick a taller guy on the outside as opposed to some of the shorter guys.”