Sep 20, 2014 7:31 PM
Late TD lifts UNH
RICHMOND, Va. - Nico Steriti scored on a two-yard run with 19 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to lift the No. 7 University of New Hampshire football team to a 29-26 victory against No. 17 University of Richmond in Saturday afternoon's CAA opener at Robins Stadium.
UNH, with its fourth consecutive win against Richmond in the series (the last three by a combined nine points), improved to 2-1 overall while the Spiders fell to 2-2.
UNH starting quarterback Sean Goldrich was 18 of 25 for 212 yards; he also led the team with 12 rushes for 87 yards and matched his career high with three rushing touchdowns. Goldrich's top targets were R.J. Harris (8-119) and Harold Spears (4-94). Steriti finished with nine carries for 52 yards and had two catches for 10 yards.
Four Wildcats recorded double digits in tackles. Hayden Knudson led the way with 12 tackles, including one for a loss, and a forced fumble. Nick Cefalo had 11 stops, including UNH's lone sack. Shane McNeely also had 11 tackles and Akil Anderson rounded out the quartet with 10, two for a loss.
UR quarterback Michael Strauss went 27-for-35 for 344 yards. Brian Brown (12 catches, 139) and Rashad Ponder (7-109) both eclipsed 100 yards receiving. The ground game was led by Seth Fisher with 16 rushes for 60 yards and two TDs.
The team's overall offensive numbers were even with UNH's total offense at 461 yards (247 passing, 214 rushing) on 70 plays, while UR had 469 yards (348 pass, 121 rush) on 72 plays.
Richmond had regained the lead, 26-22, on Seth Fisher's 4-yard TD with 6:31 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Following a touchback, UNH began its game-winning drive on its 25 with backup quarterback Andy Vailas at the helm because Goldrich was injured on his one-yard TD that gave the Wildcats a 22-19 lead at 10:59 of the fourth quarter. On first down, Vailas completed his first pass attempt of the day to Harris for 6 yards. Four plays later, UNH faced third and 8 on its 37 and Vailas hit Harris on an out pattern to the right side and the wideout turned upfield for a gain of 24 yards to the Richmond 39.
On the next play, Vailas pulled the ball down in the pocket and split a pair of defenders for a nine-yard run. Steriti bulled into the line for a 3-yard gain and first down for the Wildcats. On a designed QB run, Vailas gained the corner on the right side to advance the ball to the UR 20. Back-to-back runs by Jimmy Owens set up first and 10 at the UR 16 with 1:41 to play.
Facing third and 3 at the UR 9, Vailas' pass to Spears in the end zone sailed high with 33 seconds on the clock. Vailas then pulled the ball down and ran up the middle for a 7-yard gain to give New Hampshire first and goal from the Richmond 2 with 24 seconds to go. One play later, Steriti plowed into the end zone and the Christian Breda PAT gave UNH a 29-26 lead with 19 seconds remaining.
Richmond QB Michael Strauss threw an incompletion on first and 10 from the UR 27. He then hit a four-yard completion to give the Spiders one last chance with one second on the clock. His pass was completed to Reggie Diggs for five yards, but Diggs' immediate lateral was caught by Cody Muller and he fell to the ground to end the game.
Spears eclipsed 1,000 career receiving yards on his 29-yard catch in the second quarter and he now has 1,064.
Harris, with his third 100-yard receiving game of the season and 14th of his career, ascended to No. 2 on UNH's career receiving yards leaderboard. He surpassed David Gamble (1990-93; 3,072) and now has 3,154.
Goldrich entered the program's Top 10 list in career passing yards and climbed past Chris Bresnahan (1995-96; 4,085), Kevin Decker (2008-11; 4,151) and Jeff Allen (1974-77; 4,184) to No. 8 with a total of 4,203.