Knight’s TD catch lifts Hens to wild 3-overtime 44-36 win over URI

KINGSTON, R.I. — Will Knight probably won’t forget his first Delaware touchdown any time soon.

The former Smyrna High star running back scored the winning TD on a 24-yard pass from quarterback Pat Kehoe as the Blue Hens found a way to get past Rhode Island, 44-36, in three overtimes in an epic CAA football battle on Saturday night.

After Knight’s TD, the game was decided with the Rams facing a fourth-and-goal from the Delaware two.

Delaware cornerback Justis Henley celebrates after his game-ending interception. Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell
Will Knight


With URI QB Vito Priore under pressure, cornerback Justis Henley stepped in front of a pass in the end zone for a victory-sealing interception.

A moment later, Delaware’s players were happily streaming onto the new artificial turf at Meade Stadium in celebration.

“The overtime was just crazy,” said UD coach Danny Rocco. “That’s the way those things are. We made one more play. I guess we’ve got one takeaway on the season and it assured a victory there in overtime.”

 
“It was an incredible game,” said Henley, who also had nine tackles and two pass breakups. “An incredible feeling and one of the best nights I’ve ever had playing football.

“This is why we play the game. This is what you fight for every day – nights like tonight.”
 

In a contest in which the No. 22 Hens (2-0 overall) trailed 13-0 at halftime, the game was tied 22-22 after regulation.

Both squads scored touchdowns on each of their first two OT possessions.

With Delaware getting the ball first in the third overtime, Kehoe found Knight, who came out of the backfield and beat a URI defender down the sidelines to pull in the go-ahead touchown. Kehoe then hit Owen Tyler on the required two-point conversion try.

On its ensuing possession, URI (0-2) had a first down on the 10 after a pass interference penalty. The Rams eventually reached the two where the Hens came up with the deciding stop.

Kehoe bounced back from a tough first half in which he threw three interceptions. The senior ended up 26-for-38 for 282 yards with five TD passes — and no more interceptions. He also caught a two-point conversion and threw for another.

Sophomore tight end Bryce DeMaille added five catches for 61 yards and a pair of touchdowns while senior running back Andre Robinson picked up a career-high 111 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries.

“We got off to a terrible start offensively,” said Rocco. “Our defense was extraordinarily resilient there in that first half and in the third quarter. They kind of kept us in the game. That thing could have gotten out of control.

“At halftime, I was very poised and very confident that we were going to win the game. I don’t know why I felt that confident about it but I knew we’d play better there in the second half — and sure enough we did.

“Pat got in rhythm a little bit. Nolan made some big plays with his legs getting some first downs. Andre Robinson ran the ball really, really hard there in that second half.”

Another Smyrna grad, quarterback Nolan Henderson, made a couple big third-down running plays, finishing with 16 yards on four carries.
Trailing 19-14, Delaware drove for what looked like might be the winning touchdown in the closing minutes of regulation. Kehoe rolled out and hit sprawling fullback Tyler for a one-yard scoring pass.

The Hens used a trick play for what turned out to be a crucial two-point conversion. Using the ‘Philly Special’ play that the Eagles made famous, receiver Thyrick Pitts took a handoff on a double reverse and threw to a wide-open Kehoe to give Delaware a 22-19 lead with only 1:22 remaining in regulation.

But that was enough time for the Rams to complete a long pass play that set up a tying 43-yard field goal by C.J. Carrick with just :19 seconds left.

After trailing 13-0 following a lackluster first half, Delaware stormed back to grab a 14-13 lead on a pair of Kehoe scoring passes. The longest of those TD tosses was a 66-yarder to receiver Chi Chi Amachie, who was all alone behind the URI defense.

Amachi had 72 yards on three receptions with Pitts adding 66 yards on four receptions.

For the Hens, the dramatic comeback win avenged a tough 21-19 loss to URI in Newark a year ago. On Saturday, the Rams were playing their first night home game in over 30 years and debuting their newly-renovated stadium.

Delaware doesn’t play another CAA game until October. The Hens host No. 1 North Dakota State next Saturday at 1 p.m.

The victory was the 700th in Delaware history, making the Hens the seventh FCS program to reach that plateau. Delaware’s proud tradition is something that means a lot to Rocco.

“I talk so much about legacy,” he said. “I talk so much about understanding and appreciating our role in that and this moment in time. It’s such a privilege to represent the University of Delaware and all those other coaches and players and teams that have come before us.

“For team 128 to go out there and start the way we’ve started, and get our 700th career win, puts us in pretty rare company. I’m really proud of that, I’m proud of our kids tonight.”

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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