Delaware led 9-0 before the University of Richmond offense snapped it. Less than two minutes later, it was 16-0.
That wretched Richmond start Saturday at Robins Stadium led to a 43-28 loss with quarterback Joe Mancuso, who stepped in for Kevin Johnson (concussion). Mancuso, a redshirt sophomore, completed 27 of 37 for 489 yards and three touchdowns, with five interceptions. Junior Cortrelle Simpson made eight catches for 220 yards and two TDs.
Mancuso also ran 15 times for 71 yards, and was not sacked.
"Having the loss, no matter what the statistics were, just having that loss, you want to be a winning team," said Mancuso, a 6-foot-4 215-pounder from Blairsville, Ga. "I think that's just going to stick with me. How could I have done better. How could I have improved and made my team better throughout the game?"
Spiders senior Tyler Wilkins fielded Delaware’s first punt at the 1, retreated, and was tackled for a safety. Delaware scored a touchdown on its next possession. Then UR tight end Will Geraghty made a catch in the left flat. Blue Hens linebacker Colby Reeder stole the ball and returned it 34 yards for a TD that made it 16-0.
The game was 5:08 old.
Johnson, a junior, dealt with symptoms consistent with a concussion beginning last Sunday, a day after UR’s 63-10 loss to James Madison. Richmond (2-4, 0-3 CAA) confirmed for the first time Saturday morning that Johnson would not play.
Delaware (3-2, 1-1 CAA) led 33-10 at the break, 43-10 late in the third quarter.
"I never once thought we were out of that game, ever," said UR coach Russ Huesman. "You felt like we could throw the football on them. We were stopping the run game. If we could have defended a couple of deep balls ..."
The Spiders haven't been 0-3 in the CAA since 2013, when they began league play 0-4. That year, UR won its last four conference games to finish 4-4 in the CAA, 6-6 overall.
With UR down 36-10 in the third quarter, a dust-up followed Mancuso's third interception. Spiders tailback Deontez Thompson and a Delaware player, Tenny Adewusi, were ejected for fighting. Each must sit out a half of the next game.
Picking up his 100th career win was Danny Rocco, UR’s former coach and in his second season at Delaware. Rocco guided the Spiders 2012-16 and is the only coach to lead UR to three consecutive FCS tournaments. Rocco spent several minutes after the game speaking with, and embracing, Richmond players.
"This was an extraordinarily special place for me, my wife, and my family," he said.
Johnson had completed 56.9 percent of his attempts for 1,269 yards (254 ypg) and five touchdowns, but also had thrown five interceptions. Mancuso appeared in four of Richmond’s first five games and completed two of seven pass attempts for 26 yards.
"I thought [Mancuso] did a fantastic job," sad Huesman.
Of the five interceptions Mancuso threw, Huesman classified two as the QB's fault. Huesman said Johnson and Mancuso would compete for the starting job next week.
The Spiders have played a 4-2-5 defense since Huesman took over as coach before last season. Saturday, they went with three linebackers on most plays and held a Delaware team known for its physical running game to 90 rushing yards.
NOTE: Richmond sophomore safety Samari Springs, a starter, left the team after last Saturday’s loss to JMU (his decision). He is the son of former NFL defensive back Shawn Springs and grandson of former NFL running back Ron Springs. Samari Springs, from Ashburn, was a regular last season as a true freshman.