The Collegian
Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Spiders block last-second field goal, beat Delaware 16-15

NEWARK, Del. -- The No. 1 team in the country needed its No. 1 to secure a victory at the University of Delaware this afternoon.

University of Richmond wide receiver Kevin Grayson blocked Delaware kicker Jon Striefsky's 23-yard field goal attempt with 38 seconds left during the fourth quarter to secure a 16-15 win for the Spiders.

"I don't know what feeling went through my body when I felt it hit my hand," Grayson said. "I'm the happiest person in America right now."

Richmond trailed the Blue Hens for most of the game, as it managed only 59 rushing yards during the game.

Quarterback Eric Ward carried the team for the second week in a row, completing 22 of 32 passes for 247 yards. Ward also ran for 46 yards, which led all Richmond rushers, and took over first place all-time on the Richmond total yards list with 8,081.

Richmond trailed 15-7 heading to the fourth quarter until Ward ran for a touchdown with 12:27 left during the game. The Spiders' two-point conversion attempt failed when Ward's pass fell incomplete, so the team still trailed 15-13.

On Richmond's next possession, Ward tried to force a pass into triple coverage and threw an interception, giving Delaware the ball back with a chance to stretch the lead. But on a third-and-15 play for the Blue Hens, Richmond redshirt freshman Darryl Hamilton intercepted Delaware quarterback Pat Devlin's pass and returned it to the Delaware 10-yard line.

After failing to reach the end zone, the Spiders took their first lead of the game 16-15 on a 23-yard field goal from Andrew Howard with 5:54 to play during the fourth quarter.

Richmond stopped Delaware's first possession after the field goal, but had to punt, giving Delaware the ball back with 2:33 left during the game.

On the Blue Hens' first play of their final drive, Devlin, a transfer from Pennsylvania State University, completed a 33-yard pass to give Delaware the ball inside the Richmond 10-yard line.

Delaware ran three plays, all conservative running play, to keep the ball in the middle of the field, before having its kick blocked.

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"It was one of the best games I've ever been a part of," Richmond head coach Mike London said. "Whenever you're in these types of games you've just got to find a way to win."

Grayson only plays on the kick defense during last-minute situations when the team needs to go for a block. Linebacker Collin McConaghy moved Grayson from the edge to the center of the field right before the kick, allowing the wide receiver to make the block.

"It's not really rocket science," McConaghy said. "I told him if you get in the middle, you're going to block this kick."

The win extended Richmond's winning streak to a school record 11 games, dating back to last season. It also extended the Spiders' road winning streak to eight games and marked the first time since 1985 that the team won while ranked No. 1.

For the second-straight week, Richmond conceded its first points on a safety. Long snapper Colin Pehanick snapped the ball over punter Brian Radford's head, causing a safety for the second time in as many games and giving Delaware a 2-0 lead with 6:26 to go during the first quarter.

After a free kick, Delaware drove 60 yards in 13 plays before stalling at the Richmond 16-yard line. Striefsky drilled a 33-yard field goal to give Delaware a 5-0 lead with 1:22 to play during the first quarter.

During the second quarter, a trick play by Richmond resulted in the Spiders' first turnover of the season. Wide receiver Donte Boston lined up in the shot gun, faked a hand-off to wide receiver Tre Gray and threw an interception to Blue Hens safety Charles Grant.

Because of a late-hit penalty against Richmond, Delaware took over at the Richmond 40-yard line. Richmond defensive lineman Martin Parker tackled Delaware running back David Hayes short of a first down on a third-and-3 play, which forced Delaware to settle for another field goal attempt. Streifsky converted from 28 yards to give Delaware an 8-0 lead with 5:33 to go during the half.

But Richmond responded with a 12-play drive that lasted 5:02. With 23 seconds to play during the half, Richmond quarterback Eric Ward found a wide-open Gray in the end zone for the first Richmond touchdown of the game. An Andrew Howard extra point brought the Spiders within one just before halftime.

Delaware took advantage of another Richmond mistake early during the second half to increase its lead again. Derek Hatcher fumbled a punt and Delaware recovered at the Richmond 19-yard line. Three plays later, Delaware quarterback Pat Devlin rushed 7 yards up the middle for a touchdown, giving the Blue Hens a 15-8 lead.

The Spiders will return home to begin the final season at UR Stadium at 3:30 p.m. next Saturday, as they try to extend their winning streak to 12 games against Hofstra University.

Contact staff writer Reilly Moore at reilly.moore@richmond.edu

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