The Collegian
Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Spiders' late comeback falls short in 43-28 loss to Delaware

<p>The football team is now 2-4 after a 28-43 loss to Delaware.</p>

The football team is now 2-4 after a 28-43 loss to Delaware.

The University of Richmond football team lost 43-28 to the University of Delaware Blue Hens Saturday afternoon.

The Spiders mounted a late comeback, scoring 18 unanswered points after falling behind 43-10, but ultimately fell short. After their third consecutive loss, their record is now 2-4 overall on the season, and 0-3 in conference play.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Joe Mancuso set the school record for total yards in a game with 560 in his first college start, filling in for the injured Kevin Johnson. 

Richmond coach Russ Huesman believed the team was competitive throughout the entire game, he said.

“I never once thought we were out of that game, ever,” he said. “Even at halftime, I kind of thought we matched up well with them. They weren’t running the football at all on us. We just can’t give up those kind of big plays in the passing game.”

The first quarter was filled with plenty of scoring and explosive plays from both teams. On Delaware’s opening possession, the Spiders defense forced a punt.

Richmond senior Tyler Wilkins caught the ensuing punt at the 1-yard line and drifted backward. Several Blue Hens, led by senior Kani Kane, combined to tackle Wilkins in the end zone for a safety to give Delaware a 2-0 advantage with 12:45 left in the first quarter.

On the next possession, Delaware quarterback Pat Kehoe found reciever Joe Walker for a 43-yard completion. 

Several plays later, Delaware tight end Charles Scarff caught an 11-yard touchdown pass. Redshirt senior place-kicker Frank Raggo converted the extra point to put the Blue Hens ahead 9-0 with 11:12 remaining in the opening quarter.

On the Spiders' third offensive play of the game, Mancuso threw a quick pass to tight end Will Geraghty. Delaware redshirt sophomore Colby Reeder forced Geraghty to fumble. Reeder recovered the fumble and returned it 34 yards for another Blue Hens touchdown.

With 9:52 left in the quarter, the Spiders found themselves quickly down 16-0.

Less than a minute later, Mancuso connected with Wilkins for an 80-yard touchdown. Under six minutes into the game, Delaware’s lead now stood at 16-7.

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Following a big sack by Richmond junior Maurice Jackson on third down, the Blue Hens punted the ball back to the Spiders.

On the fourth play of the drive, Mancuso’s pass was intercepted by Delaware linebacker Charles Bell.

After the interception, Raggo finished the Blue Hens drive with a made field goal to extend Delaware’s lead to 19-7.

On the last play of the first quarter, Mancuso found receiver Cortrelle Simpson for a 35-yard completion. Several minutes later, Richmond place-kicker Griffin Trau added a field goal.

Delaware’s offense continued its rapid scoring. A 46-yard reception by senior Jamie Jarmon set up a 2-yard rushing touchdown for Kane. 

With just over five minutes remaining in the half, Delaware led Richmond 26-10.

Richmond’s next drive stalled when a Mancuso pass was intercepted by redshirt sophomore Nijuel Hill at the Delaware 14-yard line and returned 26 yards.

The onslaught continued as Kehoe quickly found receiver Vinny Papale for a 58-yard touchdown. The successful extra point made the score 33-10 Delaware with 1:41 remaining in the first half.

The Spiders still trailed 33-10 at halftime.

Richmond was unable to close the gap to start the second half. Its opening drive resulted in a turnover on downs at the Delaware 6-yard line after an incompletion on fourth down.

Two plays later, Kehoe completed another long pass to Walker that resulted in a 70-yard gain. Raggo added a 35-yard field goal to put the Blue Hens ahead by a margin of 36-10.

The offense drove down the field to the Delaware 28-yard line before a third Mancuso interception derailed the Spiders hopes of trimming the lead. 

Following the interception, tensions and frustrations flared as a large skirmish broke out in the end zone after the play. Multiple helmets and penalty flags littered the field as officials tried to break up the brawl. Four unsportsmanlike penalties assessed to both teams were offsetting. Richmond running back Deontez Thompson and Delaware defensive back Tenny Adewusi were ejected as a result of the fight.

Delaware capped off an impressive 11-play 97-yard drive with a 1-yard Kane rushing touchdown. The score stretched its lead to 43-10 with under one minute to play in the third quarter.

A 57-yard touchdown pass from Mancuso to Simpson as time expired in the third quarter cut the deficit to 43-16 after an unsuccessful two-point conversion attempt.

After a Delaware punt, Mancuso again found Simpson, this time for a 56-yard reception. Mancuso rushed into the end zone for the score several plays later. Another unsuccessful two-point conversion attempt made the score 43-22 with 12:14 remaining in the game.

On the first play of the Blue Hens’ drive, Richmond junior Trent Williams intercepted Delaware quarterback J.P. Caruso. 

Yet another long touchdown from Mancuso to Simpson, a 37-yard reception, and a Trau extra point put the Spiders down 43-28 with nine minutes left to play.

The Spiders defense forced a punt, but Mancuso threw his fourth interception of the game on the first play of the drive.

With a little over three minutes remaining, Mancuso threw his fifth and final interception to seal the Blue Hens victory.

Richmond's Simpson had eight receptions for a career-best 220 yards and two touchdowns. Wilkins added eight receptions for 185 yards and a touchdown of his own. Mancuso threw for 489 yards and three passing touchdowns, but had five interceptions. He also ran for 71 yards and a touchdown.

Junior quarterback Johnson was unavailable because of concussion symptoms. After the game, coach Huesman said Mancuso and Johnson would be competing in practice for the starting job upon Johnson’s return to the field.

Delaware coach Danny Rocco pointed to the turnover differential as a key factor in the game. 

“The difference in the game was our ability to take the ball away,” Rocco said. “Our guys did a good job out there valuing the football and that was the difference.”

Richmond had 608 total yards and 24 first downs, while Delaware had 421 total yards and only 14 first downs. The Spiders committed six turnovers compared to only one by the Blue Hens.

The Delaware victory was the 100th career win for Coach Rocco. Rocco previously coached the Spiders from 2012 to 2016.

The Spiders will look to snap their three-game losing streak at Albany next Saturday at 7 p.m.

Contact senior sports writer CJ Slavin at

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