NEWARK, Del. – The Richmond Spiders football team defeated the No. 21/22 ranked Delaware Blue Hens, 46-43, in Newark on Saturday afternoon.
With the wild, come-from-behind victory, the Spiders push their winning-streak to three games and their overall record on the season to 5-6 overall and 3-4 in the CAA. Delaware falls to 7-4 on the year and to 4-3 in league action.
QB Michael Strauss had the finest game any quarterback has had in Richmond football history on Saturday, completing 35-of-46 passes for a school-record 543 yards, five touchdowns and one interception.
Strauss surpassed the previous school mark for passing in a game by 96 yards and his total of 543 is the fifth-most in the history of the CAA. Strauss’ five touchdown passes also tied a single-game school mark which he has done the past two weeks.
It was also a historic day for the Richmond wide receivers, as three wideouts surpassed 100 yards – the first time that has happened in a game in school history. WR Rahsad Ponder led the way with a career-high nine receptions and 175 yards, while WR Stephen Barnette reeled in eight catches for 127 yards and a touchdown. True freshman WR Brian Brown also had a career day, totaling 109 yards and a score on three catches.
After the Spider defense forced a Delaware three-and-out on the game’s opening possession, the Richmond offense marched right down the field for a score. A 10-play, 67-yard drive ended with a 4-yard touchdown from Strauss to WR Ben Edwards to give the Spiders an early, 7-0 advantage.
Delaware answered with a field goal to cut the lead to 7-3 at the end of the first quarter, but Richmond came right back with a touchdown drive on the first possession of the second quarter. Moving 70 yards in just five plays and 1:48, Strauss connected with Barnette on a 21-yard touchdown to push the UR lead to 14-3.
Getting the ball back after the defense forced another Delaware punt, Richmond extended its lead over the Blue Hens with another scoring drive. After connecting with Ponder on a season-long 75-yard reception, QB David Broadus rushed it in from 3-yards out for the score. A two-point conversion made the Richmond lead, 22-3, over the No. 21/22-ranked team in the nation.
The Blue Hens answered back in a big way, however, scoring the game’s next 14 points to cut the Richmond lead to 22-17. After a long TD drive, Delaware blocked the Spiders’ first punt of the game and took advantage of the short field, scoring another touchdown.
With just 45 seconds left in the half, Richmond used its quick-strike offense to take the momentum in to the locker room. Starting from its own 14-yard line, the Spiders quickly moved the ball to the 50-yard line. After shedding a tackler, Strauss scrambled to his left and found a wide-open Brown, who jogged in from 50 yards for the score with just nine seconds remaining. At the break, Richmond led at No. 21/22 Delaware, 29-17.
Strauss was nearly perfect in the first half for the Spiders, completing 16-of-20 passes for 287 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. As a team, Richmond out-gained Delaware, 381-152, and recorded 17 first downs to just seven for the Blue Hens.
Both defenses came out strong to start the second half, as each unit forced a pair of punts. Richmond’s offense struck first, however, pushing the Spider lead to 36-17. After a long, 46-yard completion to Barnette, Strauss hit a wide-open TE Hunter Westfall on the next play for a 23-yard touchdown.
A pair of touchdowns from Delaware trimmed the Richmond lead to 36-31, but the Spiders put together a nice drive, culminating with a 32-yard field goal from Brandon Jordi to make the Spider lead, 39-31, with 13 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Once again, Delaware answered, scoring two touchdowns in the final 3:35 of the game. The Blue Hens took their first lead of the game with 45 seconds left when RB Andrew Pierce ran it in from 11-yards out. After an unsuccessful two-point conversion, Richmond trailed, 43-39.
Starting at their own 25-yard line, Strauss and the Spiders one of the best drives of the season. Working quickly, Strauss moved in to Delaware territory after just three plays.
Two plays later, Strauss hit Ponder for 22 yards to put the ball on the Delaware 3-yard line with just seven seconds left. After a timeout, Strauss hit WR Reggie Diggs on a quick slant for the game-winning score.
Delaware had a shot with three seconds remaining, but the pass fell incomplete, securing the come-from-behind win at No. 21/22 Delaware, 46-43. The win was the first for the Spiders on the road against a ranked opponent since beating No. 8-ranked Massachusetts on October 16, 2010.
For the game, Richmond racked up 680 total yards – the most in the 130-year history of Spider football. The 543 passing yards were also a school record.
The Richmond Spiders football team will conclude the 2013 season next Saturday when the team hosts in-state rival William & Mary in the “Oldest Rivalry in the South”. Kickoff at Robins Stadium is scheduled for 4 p.m.