Blue Hens win thriller on Raggo’s last-second FG

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Delaware’s run onto the field to congratulate kicker Frank Raggo after his 29-yard field goal on the game’s final play gave the Blue Hens a 24-23 win over William & Mary on Saturday night. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell).

NEWARK — Frank Raggo had already missed one short field goal attempt on Saturday night.

The Delaware redshirt freshman kicker wasn’t about go 0-for-2.

Given a second chance, Raggo calmly booted a 29-yard field goal on the final play of the game to give Delaware a rather remarkable 24-23 Colonial Athletic Association win over No. 25 William & Mary at blustery Delaware Stadium on Saturday night.

The Blue Hens (1-1 CAA, 2-3 overall) scored 10 unanswered points in the final 6:41 to end a two-game losing streak against the Tribe (1-1, 2-2).

 

 

Kareem

Delaware’s Kareem Williams ran for over 100 yards in Saturday night’s win. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell).

Delaware drove 43 yards on 12 plays, using up the remaining 5:21 of the contest, to set up Raggo’s game-winner. The kicker was mobbed by his teammates in the center of the field after making the kick.

“You do field goals every day in practice — end-of-the-game field goals,” said Raggo, who missed a 25-yarder earlier in the game. “I had total confidence in myself. I had to bring it home for my teammates.

“It’s my second game-winner (counting high school). I’m two-for-two in my career. It’s honestly the best experience in my life.”

“It’s hard to put into words how excited I am for the players in the locker room,” said coach Dave Brock. “The kids have worked incredibly hard, they’ve practiced hard. They’ve done everything we’ve asked. It paid off tonight. They got the result that they deserved.

“I’m just thrilled for them. Obviously it’s an excited bunch of young guys.”

After trailing 14-7 at halftime, the Tribe scored 16 unanswered points in the second half — on a touchdown and three field goals — to gradually pull away.

But Delaware gave itself a chance at pulling out the win with an 88-yard scoring drive in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Joe Walker fired an 11-yard TD pass to Tre Brown to pull the Hens within 23-21 with 6:41 left.

Against a William & Mary defense that was allowing just 88 rushing yards per game, however, Delaware did most of its damage on the ground. The Hens finished with 347 rushing yards in the contest, outgaining the Tribe 418-290 in total yards.

That’s one reason why they held a commanding 41:12 to 18:48 edge in time of possession.

Running backs Thomas Jefferson (28 carries-174 yards) and Kareem Williams (23 carries-106 yards) both went over 100 yards as Delaware outagined the Tribe 418 yards to 290 in the contest. Walker added 63 yards on 13 carries.

On its final two drives, the Hens ran the ball on 21 of 23 plays.

“We relied on who we are at the end,” said Brock. “We ran the ball and put ourselves in position for Frankie to win the game for all of us — and he did it.

“Tonight we had a three-headed monster. … When you have two guys over 100 yards, you should have a good night.”

Jefferson said it was quiet in the huddle on Delaware’s final drive.

“We all knew what we had to do,” he said. “Everyone did their job and that was it.

“It’s a great feeling. It’s a feeling I can’t explain. Everyone did what they were supposed to do.”

The Hens had their share of first-half regrets in this one. They gave up a kickoff return touchdown before having a TD taken off the board by a holding penalty.

The Tribe didn’t take its first lead of the night until there was 4:56 left in the third quarter.

DeVonte Dedmon, who returned a kickoff for a touchdown earlier in the game, this time took a screen pass 57 yards for a TD that gave William & Mary a 17-14 advantage. The wide receiver got a couple good blocks at the start and then cut back into open space on the play.

The Hens look impressive offensively from the start, taking the opening kickoff and marching 75 yards in 14 plays to score the game’s first touchdown. Williams scored on a five-yard run to finish off a drive that last just over six minutes.

But that lead didn’t last long. William & Mary’s Dedmon returned the ensuing kickoff 89 yards right up the middle for a TD that tied the contest. It was the first kickoff return for a touchdown Delaware has given up in five seasons.

Delaware quickly returned the favor, though, when safety Ryan Torzsa blocked a William & Mary punt later in the quarter. The ball shot back into the end zone where freshman Que’Shawn Jenkins fell on it for a touchdown that gave the Hens a 14-7 advantage.

“Honestly, it was a wide-open hole,” Torrsza said of his block. “It opened up like the Red Sea. I’m not going to take the credit for that. All 11 guys … we practice that every week. Every week we have a schemed-up block. Sometimes the opportunity doesn’t show itself.

“We put the time in. I don’t think any other team in the nation puts as much time as we do into special teams.”

In the second quarter, the Hens looked like they were going to add to their lead when they reached the William & Mary 1. Jefferson scored from there but the TD was wiped out by a holding penalty.

Raggo then missed a 25-yard field goal attempt as Delaware went into the half leading just 14-7. He admits it felt like an eternity until he got his second chance on the final play of the game.

At halftime, Raggo said he got a text from his kicking coach, who was watching the game on TV in Long Island. He told Raggo he was dipping his right shoulder.

“I was thinking about that the whole time,” said Raggo.

“It’s hard when that looms in your mind — ‘Oh, a 25-yarder,’” Raggo said about his earlier miss. “Usually it’s a chip shot. You never miss those. It was tough to think about it for that long.”

Extra points

Indian River High grad Jamie Jarmon, who had one catch coming in, had seven receptions for 56 yards on Saturday. … Walker completed 9-of-17 passes for 71 yards. … The Hens’ blocked punt TD was its first since the 2003 playoff win over Southern Illinois. … Delaware didn’t have to face Tribe running back Mikal Abdul-Saboor, who was sidelined on Saturday with an injury. In two games against the Hens, he ran for a remarkable 345 yards and two TDs on 69 carries. … Delaware played again without top receiver Diante Cherry, who missed his second straight game with an injury. … Delaware opponents are 7-for-7 on field-goal attempts of over 40 yards this season. … The Hens’ regular kickoff specialist, Kevin McLaughlin, was sidelined by injury. Redshirt freshman Erik Martinez saw his first action in McLaughlin’s place.

Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or walter@newszap.com.

 

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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