'This was expected': Daniel Richardson's show stopping comeback not a surprise to those who know him best
Daniel Richardson was offered a full-ride scholarship to play quarterback at Florida International in the eighth grade. His unbeaten record through the youth football ranks caught the Panthers eye.
Seven years after the offer, he reminded the world of the skill set the Panthers coveted. The Miami, Florida native threw three fourth quarter touchdown passes to cap a 21-point comeback and win the game for Central Michigan against the team who offered him first.
Though some may have seen Richardson's furious comeback as a surprise, those who know him best saw it as fulfilled expectations, including Oliver Bozeman, a Miami-based quarterback coach who worked with Richardson in high school.
"This was already expected," Bozeman said. "The reason this was expected was because this is a conversation we have every week. I mean the situation is what it is, but at the end of the day, you never know what could happen in the course of a game and he's gonna make sure he's prepared no matter what."
Bozeman and Richardson talk three times a week: twice leading up to a game and then again after. A common theme in those conversations this season has been staying ready. Bozeman knew, at some point, Richardson would get a shot.
"That's how we build athletes in south Florida," Bozeman said. "We're used to adversity, we're used to playing from behind. So, with him already having that mindset and having that character from the beginning, he already knew what time it was when he stepped into the game."
The redshirt freshman entered the game for Jacob Sirmon midway through the third quarter. His first drive ended in six points for FIU, when Richardson's high school teammate Rishard Dames blocked Luke Elzinga's punt and returned it for a touchdown.
The second drive wasn't much better, as Richardson fumbled. Down 27-10, Richardson put forth a show-stopping effort.
After moving the ball into FIU territory, an offensive pass interference penalty backed CMU into a first-and-25 from its own 47-yard line. Richardson wasn't fazed, completing six straight passes that included a 15-yard strike to Lew Nichols III to make it a two-score game.
The Chippewa defense forced a punt, giving Richardson and company the ball back down 10 with 9:05 remaining. CMU marched down the field, and JaCorey Sullivan out jumped a defender in the right corner of the south end zone to make it 27-24 with just over seven minutes left.
Richardson and company turned the ball over on downs on their next drive, but got one more chance when the defense forced FIU to punt. Setting up with exactly two minutes left and needing 80 yards, Richardson lofted a first down pass to Kalil Pimpleton for 28 yards.
The Chippewas were off to the races.
After hitting Dixon for 18 yards and then Nichols for seven, Richardson set the offense up on a third-and-three from the FIU 27. After identifying the Panthers' Cover 3 look with the cornerback backed off Dixon, Richardson fired a bullet to the left.
Dixon caught it, made two defenders miss, and sprinted into the end zone.
Richardson sprinted, holding his left arm perpendicular to his right and shaking the latter, all the way to his team's bench. He stood atop it, yelling into the crowd amidst his adorning teammates.
"I'm proud of the way D-Rich came in and played," McElwain said. "He did what he was expected to do and he did his job. I'm happy for him and happy for this football team."