It’s the first meeting in nine years with Richmond (1-0) of the Colonial Athletic Association, currently the No. 12 team in the FCS rankings. The Spiders’ only win in the series was in 1970 at Richmond City Stadium (And oddly enough, I was there).
Pete Thomas, who was on the second line of the depth chart until Brandon Mitchell was hurt in last week’s 40-14 romp over Louisiana Tech, will start at QB for the Wolfpack.
State takes the Spiders’ best shot, but Niklas Sade hits a clutch field goal in the final minute to give the Wolfpack a 23-21 win.
But the Spiders come right back with an 11-play, 75-yard drive, with Michael Strauss hitting Sam Roller from three yards out with 1:20 left in the quarter and Brandon Jordi adding the boot.
State takes the lead again with 10:36 left in the half, as freshman quarterback Bryant Shirreffs breaks loose down the left sideline for a 28-yard scoring run. Sade’s kick punctuates the 11-play, 75-yard march.
Richmond then drives for its next two scores. Strauss hits Stephen Barnette from 14 yards out at 7:35 to end an eight-play, 75-yard drive with Jordi converting. And with 1:33 left in the half Jacobi Green goes in from seven yards out to finish a seven-play, 62-yard drive with Jordi on the kick.
Sade cuts the halftime margin to 21-13 with 10 seconds left, nailing a 19-yard field goal to end a 13-play, 74-yard march.
The Wolfpack gets a big break midway through the third, as Art Norman recovers a Strauss fumble at the Spider 8.
Three plays later Shiereffs hits classmate Matt Dayes for a seven-yard TD. For some reason Sade is sent in to kick, cutting the margin to 21-20 at 7:09.
But Sade is the hero, booting a 48-yard field goal with 33 seconds left to end a seven-play, 45-yard march and bail out the decision not to go for two.
Thomas completed 24 of 31 passes for 237 yards with two interceptions. Shirreffs completes three for three for 19 yards and the TD, and carries four times for 36 yards and the score. Dayes carries 14 times for 43 yards and catches five passes for 47 and the TD. Robert Caldwell is in on 13 tackles.
Richmond’s Strauss completes 29 of 45 passes for 300 yards and two TDs.
They said it …
Doeren: “(We) found a way to win. A lot of teams wouldn’t do that. I told our guys I was proud of them. We made plays and a lot of mistakes, too. We had 10 penalties tonight, which was disappointing and something we have to correct. But Richmond is a good football team. They don’t make many mistakes, which puts pressure on us when we do.”
Richmond coach Danny Rocco: “It’s obviously disappointing. I think we did enough things to put ourselves in a position to win the football game. When you look at a game like this, it’s never one thing or one play. I think there were a number of different opportunities or plays that could have been made on either side of the football that would have helped secure a victory for us tonight.”
Sade: “I had a feeling it would come down to (the last kick), and I just wanted to be accountable and do my job. As soon as it left my foot I looked up, and it was falling right and went in.”
Thomas: “I want to thank the defense for bailing us out and giving us the ball back. Coach always preaches that you have to be able to handle adversity. It’s not what happens to you; it’s how you come back. I feel like our team handled adversity very well.”
Play of the game
Sade’s game-winning field goal.
State: Won 2.
Richmond: Lost 1.
State leads 18-1-1.
Richmond at Gardner-Webb, Sept. 14, 6 p.m.
N.C. State vs. Clemson, Sept. 19, 7:30 p.m.