Richmond rally falls short at New Hampshire

DURHAM, NH (WWBT) - The Richmond Spiders football team rallied late against New Hampshire on Saturday afternoon, but the Wildcats were able to hold on for a 44-40 win. With the victory, UNH improves to 5-2 and 3-1 in the CAA, while the Spiders fall to 4-3 overall and to 2-2 in conference action.

Quarterback John Laub was again terrific for Spiders, rushing for 103 yards while completing 27-of-44 passes for 269 yards and a touchdown. Kendall Gaskins was also great for Richmond, scoring three times while rushing for 97 yards on 16 carries. Ben Edwards reeled in a game-high 10 receptions for 125 yards.

The high-powered New Hampshire offense took the game's first possession for a touchdown to open the scoring.  The Wildcats missed, however, on a two-point conversion attempt.  Richmond responded, as PK Remington Hinshaw tied a career-long, hitting from 38 yards to cut the lead in half, 6-3.

After forcing a UNH three-and out, the Spiders took the lead on an impressive, four-play, 66-yard drive as Gaskins ran the ball in from 1-yard out for a score.  With five minutes left in the 1st quarter, Richmond held a 10-6 lead.

The Wildcats came right back, scoring back-to-back touchdowns to take a 20-10 lead over the Spiders.  The back-and-forth contest continued, as Richmond marched the ball down the field 81 yards.  The five-play drive culminated with an eight-yard touchdown run from Gaskins, cutting the lead to 20-17.

UNH added another touchdown to its total, and after a missed field goal near the end of the half for Richmond, the Wildcats took a 27-17 lead in to the break.

New Hampshire continued its offensive surge in the second half, scoring on its first possession to push the lead to 34-17.  Needing a score, Richmond was set up nicely after Justin Grant returned the kickoff 76 yards to the UNH 13-yard line.  Five plays later, Laub connected with FB Seth Fisher for a two-yard score, cutting the lead to 34-24.

The Richmond defense came up with another stop, forcing a New Hampshire punt. Trailing by just seven, the Spiders drove down the field looking to tie the game.  Near the New Hampshire goal line, Laub was forced to leave the game with an injury.  Strauss entered for Laub and on a third and goal, connected with WR Stephen Barnette on a four-yard score, tying the game at 34-34.

On the next Wildcat possession, true freshman Ayo Ogunniyi picked off Andy Vailas.  The pick was the first of Ogunniyi's collegiate career. On the very next play for the Spiders, Gaskins took the handoff and broke through the defense, rumbling 48 yards for his third score of the game.  With 10:21 left in the game, Richmond held a 40-34 lead over the Wildcats.

New Hampshire would have last rally in the game, scoring the final 10 points of the contest. The Spiders had one final drive, however, as Richmond took possession with 1:03 left in the game.  Strauss drove the team into Wildcat territory, but a final heave into the end zone as time expired fell to the grass and New Hampshire held on for a 44-40 victory.

A point of controversy came when the Spiders had the ball trailing 41-40.  On 4th-and-5 deep in their own territory, Strauss fired a pass to the sideline, which appeared to be caught by Rashad Ponder on replay, which would have kept the Richmond drive alive.  However, the pass was ruled incomplete by officials, giving the ball back to the Wildcats and easily setting up the final score of the game.

Richmond will return home to face James Madison next Saturday at 3:30pm.

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