Hens stun No. 11 Richmond in 42-35 win

 

Receiver Jamie Jarmon is flipped as he vaults into the end zone on a five-yard run. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

NEWARK — When Kyle Lauletta’s 40th pass of the day went whistling through the end zone, landing harmlessly on the Delaware Stadium turf, the celebration was on.

Blue Hen football players were running everywhere, hugging each other, jumping on each other, laughing.

This current group of Hens haven’t had many moments like this and they were going to try to enjoy every bit of it after upending No. 11 Richmond, 42-35, in double overtime on a memorable homecoming Saturday afternoon.

“It was just really a nice sight to see,” said junior safety Nasir Adderley. “Just the celebration on the field at the end of the game, the crowd was amazing all night. We finally did it. We finally got that signature win we’ve been looking for.”

“It was everything that we could dream of — the celebration in the locker room, the celebration on the field after the game was over,” agreed senior defensive tackle Bilal Nichols. “This is what we worked hard for. So it definitely was good to get the taste of what we can be and where we can go.”

A much-anticipated Colonial Athletic Association contest, where the biggest storyline was first-year Delaware coach Danny Rocco facing his former team, was filled with twists and turns.

Offensively, Delaware’s victory ended up being headlined by a pair of former Sussex County high school stars. Indian River’s Jamie Jarmon scored three touchdowns, including two on the ground and ran for 103 yards, while Sussex Tech’s Kani Kane ran for a season-high 109 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.

Junior running back Kani Kane, from Sussex Tech, dives into the end zone in the second OT for the game-winning touchdown. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

In the end, it was Kane’s one-yard scoring leap that gave unranked Delaware (3-1 CAA, 5-2 overall) its winning points in the second overtime. That drive was kept alive when quarterback J.P. Caruso (13-of-22, 130 yards, 3 TDs) hit receiver Vinny Papale with a 10-yard pass on a third-and-seven.

Kane’s 11-yard run to the one set up his own touchdown.

The Spiders (2-2, 4-3), needing a TD of their own on the ensuing possession, then picked up a first down on the Hens’ 10.

But after the next two plays netted five yards, Richmond’s Lauletta (23-for-40, 295 yards, 4 TDs) was trying to scramble back and away from Delaware’s pass rush when he slipped down for a 19-yard loss to the 24.

Facing a fourth-and-goal from there, all the Richmond standout QB could do was fire a pass into the end zone for the game-ending incompletion.

“It was an extraordinary football game played between two really good football teams,” said Rocco, who was the Spiders’ head coach for the past five years. “We were just a little more fortunate tonight than Richmond was.”

While plenty of different people contributed to Delaware’s win, clearly it was the Hens’ sputtering offense that delivered in some key moments on Saturday.

Safety Nasir Adderley returns one of his two interceptions in Saturday’s game. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

Delaware was trailing 28-21 late in the third quarter when it put together a 13-play, 61-yard march to tie the contest. The Hens converted a fourth-and-one and then a third-and-13 before Jarmon scored on a five-yard sweep.

The former Indian River quarterback leaped just as he was hit at the three, somersaulting just inside the pylon and landing on his back. The hard-earned touchdown knotted the score at 28-28 with 10:06 remaining in regulation.

Handing the ball off to Jarmon on the sweep was a new wrinkle for Delaware’s offense. In the first quarter, the junior receiver took a handoff and out-sprinted several Richmond defenders for a 74-yard touchdown run that gave the Hens a 14-7 lead.

“That’s all credit to my teammates,” said Jarmon. “They gave me green grass and I just ran.”

“He was extraordinary,” Rocco said about Jarmon. “I’ve been kind of saying this about him — how gifted he is, how strong he is, how explosive he is. I think tonight you got a real good look at the depth of his game.”

In the first overtime, Delaware fell behind again, 35-28, on Lauletta’s picture-perfect 20-yard TD pass to Dejon Bissett.

The Hens, though, answered with a seven-play scoring drive. Caruso had plenty of time before finally finding tight end Charles Scarff for a three-yard TD pass that knotted the score.

“I think Caruso came into his own there late in the game,” said Rocco. “He made a couple really critical throws and took some hits and just showed that ‘it’ factor. This football team, I think, can rally around that.”

In the long-term view, the Hens hope Saturday’s upset might help them get in the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs when it’s all said and done. Delaware hasn’t made the playoffs since reaching the national championship game in 2010.

It’s the first time the Hens beat a Top-15 team since knocking off No. 7 Towson in 2013.

“I told the team in the locker room how extraordinarily proud I am of them and of our coaches,” said Rocco. “But I told them, if we remain focused and we remain united, the best is yet to come.”

But Saturday was also about Rocco and six of his assistant coaches facing their old team for the first time. And while Rocco didn’t want it to be about him, his new players made it their motivation anyway.

“We’ve got Coach’s back,” said Nichols. “We knew he really wanted this game — the whole coaching staff. We made sure that, not only did we play for each other, but we played for them also.

“We figured that if wanted the game just half as bad as they did, that we were going to get it.”

Extra points

Delaware has won three straight games for the first time since 2014. … Adderley had a pair of interceptions for the Hens. … Delaware had a chance to win the game with a 37-yard field goal with 29 seconds left in regulation but Richmond blocked the kick. … Jarmon tied the school record by catching a TD pass in a fifth straight game. He was also the first Delaware receiver to run for 100 yards in a game since Michael Johnson in 2013. … Linebacker Anthony Jackson had a team-high seven tackles. … Richmond had won its last 10 overtime games. That included a memorable five-OT, 62-56 win over the Hens.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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