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Rocco fired as Delaware football coach

November 29, 2021 By Andy Walter  Delaware State News

NEWARK — Danny Rocco came to Delaware with the expectations that he’d continue the same kind of success he’d had at his last two coaching stops.
But with the Blue Hens still trying to find any consistency after five seasons, UD has decided to find another coach to get its football program turned around.

Delaware announced first in a letter to its season-ticket holders and then in a press release today that Rocco won’t be returning for a sixth season with the Blue Hens.

The former Richmond and Liberty head coach originally signed a five-year contract at the school but was given an extra year after 2020 was heavily impacted by the COVID pandemic.
“Danny Rocco will not be returning as our Head Football Coach next year,” Delaware athletic director Chrissi Rawak wrote in the letter. “We are committed to a championship caliber football program in all areas and producing the results on the field that matches our level of investment. Winning championships year in and year out.

"As we turn the page, I want to thank Coach Rocco for all that he and his staff did during his 5 years in Newark. We are in a better place than when he arrived as he has created a strong team culture and developed great young men. Coach Rocco’s commitment to our student-athletes experience, navigating the team safely through a pandemic and winning a CAA championship are great examples of his efforts and his character. We are grateful for all that he did in his time at Delaware and the foundation he laid for the future. 

"As we move forward, our commitment to winning championships has never been greater. The opportunity to find the right leader for our football team is now. Our search for a new coach begins immediately and I will work relentlessly to move through the process thoughtfully and thoroughly, but also swiftly. Confidentiality throughout this process will be critical to its success. I will involve select Delaware Football alums who will help me find the coach with the experiences, values and characteristics we need to achieve our goals the Delaware Way.
“Delaware is a special place. Being a Blue Hen is a true honor. And we need your support as we move forward to find our next head coach.”

Rawak is slated to hold an online press conference today at 3 p.m.
Rocco went 31-23 with the Hens, including a 20-16 mark in Colonial Athletic Association. But they reached the NCAA FCS Division I playoffs only twice in that span.
Delaware’s most successful campaign under Rocco came last spring when the Hens went 7-1 in a limited schedule and reached the FCS semifinals. Rocco was named the CAA Coach of the Year.
With most of its roster returning in the fall, Delaware was ranked No. 5 in the country in preseason. But the Hens finished only 5-6 when their season ended on Nov. 13.
Delaware went just 2-5 in its last seven games this fall. The Hens also finished only 5-7 in 2019. Those last two fall season were the only two losing campaigns of Rocco’s head coaching career.
In his 16-season career, Rocco’s teams are 121-65.

The Hens did lose some players to injuries this fall, most notably standout quarterback Nolan Henderson. The Smyrna High grad, a first-team All-CAA pick in the spring, missed the final seven games after undergoing abdominal surgery.

When he talked to reporters in a post-season media session on Nov. 15, Rocco said he was optimistic about next season with Henderson’s expected return. He talked about trying to get back to the playoffs in the fall.

“I don’t know, I think these guys are kind of like, ‘Things didn’t work out for us this fall,’” Rocco said at the time. “‘We didn’t play as well as we could have or should have. We had some adversity. We lost some key guys. It is what it is. We want to get back to that moment (in the playoffs).’

“And the best way to get back to that moment is getting back to basics and us focusing on the best version of us that we can be. Because a lot of these guys have that taste in their mouths and we all want to get back to those moments.”
Standout linebacker Colby Reeder, expected to be one of the Hens’ top players next year, has entered the transfer portal for his final season of eligibility.
There was only limited reaction so far from the Hens' current players.
"Simply, Danny Rocco was the man for that locker room," senior receiver Gene Coleman wrote on socal media. "If you weren’t in it, you cannot speak on it."

"I don’t think people understand the cultural turnaround that man started," wrote former player Dominick Covatto. "Forever grateful Coach."
Delaware has put a good deal of money into the football program over the past few years, with upgrades to Delaware Stadium, which included the building of the Whiteney Athletic Center. But the Hens' home attendance has been dwindling, although it was still higher than most FCS programs nationally.

Only 8,391 fans came out for a home game against Dixie State. That was the lowest attendance for a UD home game in the fall since 1967.
For a program that had only three football head coaches between 1940 and 2001, Delaware has gone through a lot of changes in the last decade.Since K.C. Keeler was fired after the 2012 season, the Hens have had three head coaches: Dave Brock (2013-16), Dennis Dottin-Carter (2016, interim) and Rocco (2017-21).
After having just two losisng seasons between 1968-2000, Delaware has gine through eight losing seasons since then.

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Football Leadership Change
11/29/2021 - bluehens.com

NEWARK, Del. - University of Delaware Director of Intercollegiate Athletics & Recreation Services, Chrissi Rawak, announced today that Head Football Coach Danny Rocco will not return next season. Rocco was 31-23 in his five seasons at Delaware, including winning a CAA championship in the 2020-21 season.

"Coach Rocco has been a great leader of the young men in our football program and created a strong team culture in his time at Delaware. He was committed to our student-athletes holistic experience and developed a solid foundation," said Rawak. 

"The decision to make a coaching change came down to the expectations we have for winning championships year in and year out at Delaware. I believe this is the right time for us to bring in new leadership that will deliver these championship experiences on and off the field." A national search will begin immediately. There will be media availability with Chrissi Rawak .

Dear Blue Hens, 

Danny Rocco will not be returning as our Head Football Coach next year. We are committed to a championship caliber football program in all areas and producing the results on the field that matches our level of investment. Winning championships year in and year out. 

As we turn the page, I want to thank Coach Rocco for all that he and his staff did during his 5 years in Newark. We are in a better place than when he arrived as he has created a strong team culture and developed great young men. Coach Rocco's commitment to our student-athletes experience, navigating the team safely through a pandemic and winning a CAA championship are great examples of his efforts and his character. We are grateful for all that he did in his time at Delaware and the foundation he laid for the future. 

As we move forward, our commitment to winning championships has never been greater. The opportunity to find the right leader for our football team is now. Our search for a new coach begins immediately and I will work relentlessly to move through the process thoughtfully and thoroughly, but also swiftly. Confidentiality throughout this process will be critical to its success. I will involve select Delaware Football alums who will help me find the coach with the experiences, values and characteristics we need to achieve our goals the Delaware Way. 

Delaware is a special place. Being a Blue Hen is a true honor. And we need your support as we move forward to find our next head coach.

Go Hens, 

Chrissi Rawak
Director of Athletics & Recreation

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Delaware has 13 Selected to 2021 CAA Football All-Conference Teams

11/23/2021 - bluehens.com  

NEWARK, DEL. – The University of Delaware football team had 13 student-athletes named to the 2021 CAA Football All-Conference Teams, as announced by the league on Tuesday afternoon. Three Blue Hens earned selections to the All-CAA First Team, while six were placed on the second team and four more received nods to the third team. The postseason teams were selected by votes of the league's 12 head coaches who could not vote for their own players. 

FIRST TEAM

Offensive lineman David Kroll () earned his second-consecutive selection to the first team after another strong season in 2021. The graduate student was a First Team All-American following the spring season and followed that up by starting all 11 games this fall at left tackle and was also a key member of the Blue Hens' punt unit. Sophomore punter Tyler Pastula  put together a stellar campaign in 2021, leading the CAA and ranking 21st in the country with an average of 42.5 yards per punt. He was also atop the conference as he landed 24 punts inside of the opponent's 20-yard line and had 13 kicks travel at least 50 yards. Pastula was named twice named the CAA Special Teams Player of the Week after Delaware's victories over Dixie State and William & Mary. Senior safety Kedrick Whitehead () ranked second on the defense with 76 tackles in 2021, earning his second-straight selection to the first team, and third All-CAA honor overall. The two-time All-American was a force in Delaware secondary, breaking up eight passes and creating a turnover at Rhode Island. Whitehead finished with 1.5 TFL and had three games with at least 10 tackles, including a career-high 15 against James Madison. 

SECOND TEAM

Linebacker Johnny Buchanan received his second All-CAA postseason honor after leading the Blue Hens, and ranking 11th in the CAA with 81 tackles. The senior was also third on the team with 5.5 TFL and had three games with at least 10 tackles, all coming against ranked conference opponents including a career-high 13 tackles against James Madison. An All-CAA First Team selection in the spring, Buchanan recorded one forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception. Cornerback Nijuel Hill () earned his second all-conference nod this fall after recording 30 tackles and 2.0 TFL as a fifth-year senior. An All-CAA First Team selection and Second Team All-American in the spring, Hill was third on the Blue Hens in the fall with eight passes defended, including a key fourth-quarter interception against Albany. Running back Dejoun Lee wrapped up his decorated career with his second All-CAA selection. The graduate student, who was named the 2021 Spring CAA Offensive Player of the Year, led the Blue Hens in rushing with 814 yards on 178 carries. He was fourth in the conference with 4.6 yards per carry and 74.0 yards per game, and had four games with at least 100 rushing yards, including a stretch of three-straight contests. A threat in multiple ways, Lee also ranked sixth in the CAA with 102.1 all-purpose yards per game as he also caught 13 passes for 90 yards and returned 11 kickoffs for 219 yards. Thyrick Pitts () led the Delaware wide receivers for the third-straight year to earn his second all-conference nod. The graduate student finished with team highs of 43 receptions for 669 yards and he ranked fourth in the CAA with seven touchdown receptions. He was fifth in the conference with 66.9 receiving yards per game and had three games against CAA opponents with at least 100 receiving yards, including a career day of 11 catches for 169 yards against Richmond. Safety Noah Plack received his second-straight nod to the All-CAA Second Team after ranking fourth on the team with 57 tackles despite missing the first three games of the season due to injury. The redshirt junior was a dominant force both in the secondary and near the line of scrimmage, finishing with three pass breakups, two fumble recoveries and 0.5 TFL. Junior Jourdan Townsend () earned his first career postseason honor as he has turned into one of the most dominant punt returners in the conference. He returned 16 punts on the season, averaging 8.9 yards per return to rank third in the CAA. In Delaware's victory over Albany, Townsend had a season-long return of 38 yards to set up the go-ahead touchdown. 

THIRD TEAM

Junior placekicker Ryan Coe put together a very strong season to earn his second all-conference selection. He connected on 37-of-40 of his total kicks, including going a perfect 23-of-23 on PAT attempts to extend his overall streak to 47-consecutive makes to start his career. Coe finished 14-of-17 on field goals, including making six of his eight tries from beyond 40 yards to tie a UD record and kicked three of the five longest field goals in CAA (53, 51, 48). Artis Hemmingway () earned his first postseason honor after appearing in nine games with eight starts on the defensive line in 2021. The redshirt senior finished with 28 total tackles while ranking third on the team with 2.5 sacks and fifth with 4.5 TFL. He finished with five tackles and a sack against Rhode Island, while also adding five tackles and a TFL against William & Mary. Chase McGowan put together his second-straight All-CAA campaign after receiving second-team honors in the spring. The junior appeared in all 11 games this season, finishing with 20 tackles while leading the Blue Hens with 4.0 sacks and ranking second with 6.0 TFL. He had two sacks against both Stony Brook and Dixie State, while also finishing with a season-high five tackles against the Trailblazers. Despite missing three games due to injury, Colby Reeder put together an all-conference caliber season to earn his first postseason honor since being named the CAA Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2017. The redshirt senior finished 2021 with 55 tackles to rank fifth on the team and was also second on the UD defense with 3.5 sacks and third with 5.5 TFL. He had a season-high 12 tackles, a sack and 1.5 TFL against Stony Brook.

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Villanova stops Blue Hens short of upset bid 21-13
November 20, 2021
By Andy Walter - DELAWARE STATE NEWS

NEWARK — As the final minutes drained out of its football season, Delaware had one last chance to write a nice ending to an otherwise lackluster campaign.

But, like so many other times this fall, the Blue Hens just couldn’t make it happen.

Eighth-ranked Villanova stopped Delaware a couple feet short of the goal line with 1:06 remaining to preserve its hard-earned 21-13 CAA victory over the rival Hens before a season-ending crowd of 11,437 in Delaware Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Even if it had scored, Delaware (3-5 CAA, 5-6 overall) would have needed to add a two-point conversion just to tie the contest, of course.

The Hens, though, never even got that chance after a pair of Wildcat defenders wrestled fullback Mateo Vandamia to the ground after he pulled in a shovel pass from quarterback Anthony Paoletti. The play started on the two and ended just inside the one.

It was the last gasp of a season in which Delaware began the fall with high hopes following a CAA championship spring campaign. Instead, the Hens could only watch the Wildcats (7-1 CAA, 9-2 overall) celebrate their own league title in the fading sunlight on Saturday evening.

Delaware has now registered five losing seasons just since 2012.

“It’s a disappointing ending to a disappointing season,” said UD coach Danny Rocco. “It’s a game of inches and that’s kind of where this thing ended up today. I feel really badly for our seniors.

“This group has done an awful lot for us and had done an awful lot for our program. To be in this moment right now and feeling the way we feel, I wish we could have come up with a better ending.”

After watching Villanova erase its 10-7 advantage with two quick fourth-quarter touchdowns less than three minutes apart, the Hens seemingly got a miraculous break when the Wildcats fumbled the ball at their own 21 with only 3:08 remaining. Safety Noah Plack finally corralled the rolling football for Delaware.

Four straight running plays got the Hens to the two on third down. After a quarterback sneak by Zach Gwynn went nowhere, Delaware put Paoletti in the contest on fourth down.

Paoletti, who almost always runs when he gets the ball, started around left end but then shoveled the ball back inside to Vandamia. The fullback was hit almost immediately and was left to try to push his way — unsuccessfully — into the end zone.

After Delaware snapped a nine-game losing streak to Villanova in the spring, the Wildcats got the ‘Battle of the Blue’ trophy right back. The rivalry clearly means a great deal to Villanova, which has now won 13 of the last 15 meetings.

“We have a Delaware wall in our locker room that we look at 365 days a year,” said Wildcat linebacker Forrest Rhyne. “And we have a permanent spot for this trophy. This is my fifth year and I have never not seen that trophy. ... We got it back.”

Villanova’s first touchdown was set up by a 64-yard pass from QB Daniel Smith to Jaaron Hayek (5 catches-117 yards), who got open on a deep crossing route. Jalen Jackson’s one-yard scoring run on the next play followed by Cole Bunce’s PAT kick gave the Wildcats a 14-13 lead with 11:43 left.

A three-and-out by the Hens followed by a 41-yard pass play led to Smith’s 24-yard touchdown pass to Hayek with 8:57 remaining.

Of the Wildcats’ 362 total yards, 131 came on just five plays in those two scoring drives.

“They’ve got a really good team,” said Rocco. “I think they have more ways that they could win this game today. They played really good football for about eight minutes and in that eight-minute time span they won the game.

“Other that, defensively, we were pretty much lights out. We categorically gave ourselves a chance to win the game.”

Delaware led 10-7 for much of the afternoon thanks to a 16-yard touchdown run by senior Dejoun Lee with 5:10 left in the second quarter. The Hens only had to drive 42 yards for the TD following one of their defense’s two fourth-down stops.

But Delaware could only add Ryan Coe’s second field goal, a 33-yarder, with 12:19 remaining in the game.

Both teams scored three times in the game. The Hens, however, had a TD and a pair of field goals while Villanova scored three TDs.

Delaware also threw two red-zone interceptions — one by Gwynn and one by Paoletti — early in the game.

“We failed to get the ball in the end zone and we had opportunities,” said Rocco. “Somewhere deep down you had to feel like we were going to have to do that to have enough points to win the game.”

In a program that has made the NCAA FCS playoffs just twice since reaching the national title game in 2010, seeing its season in disappointment at the hands of Villanova is nothing new for Delaware. Senior receiver Gene Coleman said he and his teammates gave it everything they had in their last game.

“There’s problems that we may have as far as executing and figuring out ways to win the game,” he said. “But, sat the end of the day, you’re always going to be proud of how hard this team plays.

“I think that’s probably what I’m most proud of — just playing with guys that I know, when times get tough, they’re going to stick together. That carries on into life. They’re not just going to be there for me on the field, they’re going to be there for me in real life. And I’ll be there for them.”

Extra points

Smith completed 12-for-26 passes for 208 yards with an interception. He also had a 34-yard run. ... Gwynn was 14-of-27 for 143 yards with one interception. ... Lee, who didn’t practice all week because of a leg injury, had a team-high 54 yards on 13 carries in his last game. ... Coleman had four catches for 60 yards in his last game. ... Safety Kedrick Whitehead (Middletown) posted a team-high 12 tackles while linebacker Johnny Buchanan had 11. ... Cornerback Justis Henley had an interception for Delaware. ... QB Nolan Henderson (Smyrna) did not suit up for the game despite some speculation that he might. He missed the final seven games of the season after having hernia surgery. ... Delaware went 12-7 in this calendar year.

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NY Jets' Joe Flacco, not Mike White, to start vs. Dolphins with Zach Wilson not ready
Andy Vasquez
NFL writer - Gannet News - 11/18/21

FLORHAM PARK — The New York Jets' strange quarterback situation took another unexpected turn on Wednesday morning when Joe Flacco was named the starting quarterback for Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins. 

The surprise move comes with rookie No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson still not 100 percent as he recovers from a knee injury.

"I don't know if I'm surprised by anything in this league anymore," Flacco said. "I was just kind of at home, told my wife and that was that."

The expectation was that Mike White, who started the past three games for the injured Wilson, would get a fourth start if Wilson still wasn't ready to return.

Instead, the Jets are going with the veteran Flacco against a blitz-happy Miami defense that held Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens to 10 points last week in an upset win. 

"One of the reasons why we went and got Joe was for the experience part of it," Jets coach Robert Saleh said. "Not only for [his] playing ability and for the [quarterback] room, but for situations just like this. Miami's got a dynamic coverage system as it pertains to defense with zero [cover blitzes] and all the different coverages they run, and Joe's kind of been there, done that and just kind of a steadying experience that we thought would put us in the best position to win. 
Injured Jets quarterback Zach Wilson behind quarterback Joe Flacco on the sidelines in the second half. The Buffalo Bills beat the New York Jets 45-17 at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ on November 14, 2021.

"Joe's proven in this league, he's played in the AFC North and he knows exactly what he's looking at. He's trained for this his whole life."

Flacco, 36, is a former Super Bowl MVP in his 14th NFL season. Saleh said the veteran won't have to worry about being pulled quickly in Sunday's game against the Dolphins if he struggles early. 

"No. Philosophically, for me, Joe is playing this game," Saleh said. "The [short] leash thing and all that stuff, that’s not something that he should be looking back. You’re in the game, you’re rolling and it’s your show."

The Jets traded for Flacco, 36, last month, a day after Wilson suffered a right knee PCL sprain. Flacco will be making his first NFL start in 364 days. He started for the Jets in a Nov. 22, 2020, loss to the Chargers in Los Angeles. 

"I am super grateful to be in the position that I'm in," Flacco said. "So I have to look at it as using all my past experience. And now to be put in this position after not playing for a bunch of games, you do look at it as, wow, how lucky am I to be in this position? That's the way I'm going to look at it and approach it like: 'Go out there and play, go out there and play ball and just do what you do.'"

Flacco wasn't an option to be on the field for the first two games after Wilson's injury because the Jets played twice in a five-day span and Flacco wasn't yet up to speed on the offense. So White got the nod as the replacement for Wilson with Flacco needing time to learn the offense. And what a ride that was.

White captured the imagination of the fan base by throwing for more than 400 yards in his first career start in a Week 8 upset win over the Bengals. But he fell back to earth hard on Sunday in the loss to the Buffalo Bills, throwing four interceptions.

Throughout White's time in the lineup, Saleh left open the possibility that White could be the long-term starter if he kept playing well — even once Wilson was healthy. And on Monday, he criticized those who wanted to move on from White after one bad start. 

"This market fascinates me in the sense that he was anointed the next coming after one game, and now everyone wants to throw him away," Saleh said. "He deserves better than that. Did he play his best? No. Is he capable of playing better? Absolutely. That defense, give them a lot of credit. They’ve made a lot of people look really bad. ... So, credit to them. But I haven’t lost faith in Mike at all."

Two days later, the Jets replaced White as the starter. But Saleh said Wednesday he wasn't criticizing fans and media for wanting to move White out of the lineup. 

"I want to be very, very clear on this one. My comments on Monday were because people wanted him out of New York," Saleh said. "And what Mike has done in three weeks as a starter has proven to this entire organization, and in my opinion to the entire New York fan base, that he is a capable quarterback who can play in this league and can do a lot of good things. ...

"Now, this particular situation with Miami obviously presents a completely different challenge and this is kind of why we brought in a guy like Joe, for situations just like this and his experience to be able to play systems of Miami's caliber."

Saleh said Wilson continues to make progress in his recovery from his Oct. 24 injury. He was on the practice field early Wednesday afternoon, and Saleh said Wilson will run the scout team in limited practice this week. He would not speculate when asked if Wilson will be ready to return next week when the Jets travel to face the Houston Texans, saying only that Wilson is "day-to-day."

Meanwhile, in the span of 72 hours, White went from having a chance to earn the starting job long-term to losing the chance to start his next game. Saleh said the conversation informing White of the change was not easy.

"Like you'd expect it to be, a lot of disappointment," Saleh said. "But Mike's a competitor and he's a young man who has done a lot of over the last three weeks to prove himself to this entire league in my opinion. His story is not done being written. He has solidified, in my opinion, his stay here as a Jet and we're excited to work with him for as many years as possible."

Flacco started four games for the Jets In 2020 as the backup to Sam Darnold. He completed 55.2 percent of his passes (74-of-134) for 864 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions. He went 3-for-3 for 47 yards with a touchdown on Sunday when White was shaken up late in the game. 

Andy Vasquez is the Jets beat writer for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to all Jets analysis, news, trades and more, please subscribe today and download our app.


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Football Game Preview: Villanova
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW?

11/16/2021 - bluehens.com
...............................................................
» Saturday will be the 55th edition of the Battle of the Blue. The Wildcats lead the longtime rivalry with a 31-22-1 record, but the Blue Hens won the most recent matchup in April, a 27-20 victory at Villanova Stadium. The win not only snapped an eight-game winning streak in the series for Villanova, but also clinched the CAA Regular Season Championship for Delaware.

» In last season's victory over the Wildcats, Nolan Henderson had a pair of touchdown passes as he connected with Jourdan Townsend and Bryce De Maille. Khory Spruill also found the end zone on a three-yard run and Ryan Coe kicked a pair of field goals. Thyrick Pitts caught five passes for 104 yards, and Gene Coleman II has seven receptions for 78 yards. Noah Plack led the defense with seven catches, while Niguel Hill had an interception.

» Pitts had a career day in Delaware's game at Richmond last Saturday, hauling in a career-high 11 catches for a personal-best 169 yards. It was his third 100-yard receiving game of the season and the fifth of his career. He caught his team-leading seventh touchdown pass, which ranks third in the CAA. Zach Gwynn finished with career highs of 25 completions for 331 yards and two passing touchdowns. He rushed for two touchdowns, the first two rushing scores of his career. Plack also set a career high, leading the Delaware defense with 14 tackles.

» The kicking game for the Blue Hens has been a strength this year as both punter Tyler Pastula and placekicker Ryan Coe have put together solid seasons. Pastula leads the CAA in punting, averaging 42.7 yards per punt, has 12 kicks of more than 50 yards and has pinned the opponent inside their own 20-yard line 21 times. Coe is 34-of-37 on all kicks and owns three of the five longest field goal makes (53, 51, 48) in the CAA this season. On 44 total kickoffs, he has 30 touchbacks.

» Villanova enters Sunday's game with an 8-2 overall record and a 6-1 mark in the CAA, sitting in a tie with James Madison atop the conference standings. The Wildcats are in the top 10 of both FCS national polls, ranking sixth in the STATS Perform Media Poll and ninth in the AFCA Coaches Poll.

» The Wildcat offense is second in the CAA in both scoring, averaging 32.8 ppg, and total offense, compiling 391.7 ypg. The defense leads the conference by allowing opponents to score just 15.3 ppg, and is second in total defense, giving up just 253 ypg.

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After tough day at Richmond, Delaware defense hopes to return to form vs. Villanova
Kevin Tresolini
Delaware News Journal 11/15/21

What a difference a week can make, as Delaware’s defense learned quite painfully in its football visit to Richmond on Saturday.

The Blue Hens will hope change looms again this week. It will have to for them to have a chance against No. 6 Villanova in Saturday’s season finale.

Delaware had shut down an explosive William & Mary offense Nov. 6, getting nine tackles for lost yardage in a 28-3 win.

UD linebackers Joe Zubillaga, left, and Colby Reeder bring down a University of Richmond ball carrier Saturday.
What followed hardly seemed likely as Delaware lost 51-27 at Richmond, ruining any chance the Hens (5-5 overall, 3-4 Colonial Athletic Association) had for an NCAA postseason invite.

Now here comes Villanova (8-2, 6-1), which can secure the conference’s automatic FCS playoff berth with a win. The Blue Hens will be looking for their first win over Villanova at Delaware Stadium since 2004.

CAA FOOTBALL STANDINGS: Delaware tied for sixth

Kickoff is at 1 p.m. at Delaware Stadium, where it’s possible Nolan Henderson could see action at quarterback for Delaware. Henderson has been out since suffering a pelvic/abdominal injury that required surgery Oct. 2 against Albany. He did practice last week but is now coping with the recent death of his mother, Lisa Mullaney.

The 51 points Delaware allowed at Richmond were the most by an FCS opponent since Maine scored 62 on the Hens in a 2013 game in Orono. Delaware allowed 380 yards, not an astronomical number, as field position played a major role in Richmond’s second-half outburst.

But Spiders quarterback Joe Mancuso did pile up 295 yards of total offense. He was 13-for-21 passing for 179 yards and three touchdowns and ran for a season’s-best 116 yards on 14 carries with two scores. Richmond also had zero turnovers in the game.


Delaware coach Danny Rocco said that William & Mary ran offensive schemes for which Delaware had prepared and it paid off.

“We were very calculated in what we thought they were going to do,” he said, “and what they did in that game was very consistent to what we prepared for.”

Richmond, however, did some different things, succeeding with what Rocco termed “unscouted plays.”

SWEET SWITCH: Darien’s move to LB pays off for Blue Hens

“This week, it was kinda the opposite,” Rocco said of some unbalanced formations that included an extra offensive tackle. “ … And then they ran their quarterback a lot. I knew they were going to run Joey but I didn’t know how.”

Richmond’s ability to convert 6 of 12 third downs was also crucial, Rocco added.

Richmond scored on its first four possessions at Robins Stadium, traveling 70, 92 and 60 yards for touchdowns and also getting Jake Larson’s 47-yard field goal.

UD quarterback Anthony Paoletti breaks through the Richmond defense.
Delaware was still within 24-14 at halftime and trimmed that deficit to 24-21 as Zach Gwynn’s 1-yard touchdown keeper closed a 10-play, 75-yard drive to open the second half.

Richmond then outscored Delaware 27-6 the rest of the way, without having to cover much distance.

Mancuso’s 2-yard touchdown run came after Tyler Dressler’s interception and 28-yard return to the UD 7. Less than a minute and a half later, Phillip O’Connor’s sack of Gwynn forced a fumble that Kobie Tuner returned 17 yards for a touchdown.

Richmond then needed to cover only 33 yards after Delaware had to punt from deep in its own territory and Savon Smith returned it 20 yards for the Spiders. For Richmond’s final touchdown, Tristan Wheeler’s interception and 19-yard runback put the Spiders only 21 yards from the end zone.

MONTH OF RECKONING: 3 November games will reveal a lot about Hens

“We were a team all year that had posted really good numbers in the red zone,” Rocco said, “in terms of forcing field goals. And they were 6-for-6 for touchdowns. I don’t think that’s ever happened to me or to us or to any defense I’ve been part of. That’s concerning.”

Running bac Dejoun Lee carries would-be tacklers during the first half of Saturday's RIchmond game
Villanova arrives No. 1 in the CAA in total offense averaging 391.7 yards per game, No. 2 in scoring offense (32.8 points per game) and No. 2 in rushing offense (182.9 yards per game).

The Villanova defense has been equally sinister, allowing a league-low 15.3 points per game and 253 yards per game, second fewest in the CAA.

The Wildcats will be anxious to avenge Delaware’s 27-20 spring win that snapped an 8-game Villanova win streak in the rivalry and reclaim the Battle of the Blue Trophy. Tempers flared at the April game when Delaware players celebrated on the ‘V’ at midfield at Villanova Stadium, which they said was payback for Villanova doing the same on the Blue Hen insignia on Tubby Raymond Field turf.

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Rocco said he brought up the subject at the team’s Sunday night meeting, using a military analogy.

RELUCTANT RINGER: Strothers goes from unwilling football player to natural

“It’s a rivalry game. It’s a big game. It is an exciting moment for all of us and for fans and we recognize the significance of that,” Rocco said. “Categorically though, it’s about your preparation and it’s about the reality that, I think I used the phrase that an American soldier fights because he loves what’s behind him, not because he hates what’s in front of him.

“So to enter a game like this or a rivalry with some kind of ill will or hatred in part is just not the right way to be. It’s contradictory to anything that I would ever think about or believe in. So it’s more about your bond with your teammates and your peers and your brothers.”

With a 5-5 record, the Blue Hens have much to play for beyond bragging rights, especially those playing their last game.

“This is our last week of college football,” fifth-year senior offensive tackle David Kroll said, referring to himself and others completing their eligibility, “and you don’t want to go out on a loss, especially not a loss to Villanova.”

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Walsh chose Delaware Blue Hens despite Villanova family ties
Junior defensive lineman Tommy Walsh grew up as a Villanova fan because his brother played there.
By Andy Walter Delaware State News - 11/15/21

NEWARK — Tommy Walsh grew up going to Delaware-Villanova football games.

Only, as a kid, the Blue Hen defensive lineman was always rooting for the Wildcats.

You can’t blame him, though. His big brother, Fran, played for Villanova.

“It was always something very exciting for me,” said Walsh.

For a while, the Warrington, Pa. native thought he would be a Wildcat, too. In the end, however, Walsh didn’t want to end up playing in his brother’s shadow.

“I’m very close to my brother,” he said. “But I kind of wanted to make my own path and Delaware was the way to do it for me.

“I loved how this was a football school. That’s something that really swayed me. Running out here on Saturdays, it’s like you’re the football team, this is it. This is what happens at Delaware, this is how it is. It’s a lot different than other places.”

On the last football Saturday of the season for Delaware, Walsh is going to try to help the Blue Hens (3-4 CAA, 5-5 overall) restore some of their pride when they host Villanova (6-1 CAA, 8-2 overall) at 1 p.m.

The sixth-ranked Wildcats are headed for the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs. Delaware, after falling to Richmond last week, is not.

But winning a second-straight ‘Battle of the Blue’ rivalry game and finishing with a winning record would go a long way toward giving the Hens a good feeling about the season.

“This is huge,” said Walsh. “Obviously it’s the biggest game of the year because it’s the next one. Every year when we go over our goals at the beginning of the year, the first one is get to the post-season. That’s not the case this year.

“But one of the next goals is always win the Battle of the Blue. It’s just so important. And now that we’re not making the playoffs, it makes it that much more important. It’d be great to end the season with a win and go home with a trophy.”

On a defensive line that regularly rotates a large number of players, Walsh has been a steady contributor for the Hens.

Since the spring, he’s been the squad’s leading tackler on the defensive front. This fall he’s got 26 stops, including five for losses.

“He really is the epitome of ‘the same guy every day,’” said coach Danny Rocco. “He loves football. He’s smart. He’s really learned how to master the position and he’s made improvements throughout his career.

“He’s not the biggest guy. So to be able to sit in there, defend the run and knock blockers back, he’s made himself a very good technician. And he’s been very efficient this year in getting up the field and pressuring the quarterback — at a level that he wasn’t doing last year.”

Walsh is versatile enough that he can play in several spots along the line. Lately, he’s been playing nose tackle in passing situations — which isn’t always easy because he’s relatively small at 6-foot-3, 250 pounds.

“You’ve got to be ready to take the hits,” said Walsh. “You’ve just got to come hard every play. It’s all about staying low and hand placement, it’s everything. If they get under me — and they already have 50 pounds on me — it’s not going to be good for me, at all.”

Unfinished business

In April, Delaware snapped a nine-game losing streak in the rivalry with a 27-20 victory at Villanova.

You might remember — and the Wildcats certainly do — that some of the Hens danced on the Villanova logo at the center of the field afterward.

The celebration led to a short standoff between the two teams on the 50 yard line. Delaware’s players insisted that the Wildcats had done something similar to them in the past.

Well, the presumption on both sides is that Villanova’s players plan to be dancing in Delaware Stadium when Saturday’s game is over.

“I think they’re definitely going to come with some fire,” said senior offensive tackle David Kroll. “Obviously that was the first time we beat them in a while. They’re definitely motivated.

“They definitely think they’re better than us right now because they’ve got a better record. They’re definitely not excited that we celebrated on their field last year so they’re going to try to celebrate on our blue hen this year. I just think we have to come prepared and not let that happen.”

“I think both teams are going to be super riled up after the spring game,” said Walsh, “and they’re going to be coming with a vengeance.”

Both Rocco and Villanova coach Mark Ferrante said they’ve talked to their players about staying focused and representing their programs with class.

“I think I used the phrase that an American soldier fights because he loves what’s behind him not because he hates what’s in front of him,” said Rocco. “So to enter a game like this with some kind of ill will or hatred in your heart is just not the right way to be.

“It’s more about your bond with your teammates. I feel that is where your focus should always be. These games should be won and lost on the field, not in social media, or on Twitter or whatever. I’m sure that both teams will certainly offer that respect, play hard and play a clean, fair football game.”

Henderson back?

After missing the past six games following hernia surgery, Rocco said it wasn’t out of the question that quarterback Nolan Henderson could be available to play on Saturday.

But the Smyrna High grad is also dealing with the unexpected death of his mother, Lisa Mulaney, over the weekend.

“There’s a chance,” Rocco said about Henderson playing on Saturday. “I think the chance might have been a little higher last Thursday or Friday than it is maybe in this moment.”

Too confident?

Junior quarterback Zach Gwynn had the most productive day of his career in the 51-27 loss at Richmond at Saturday.

He completed 25-of-45 for 331 yards with two touchdowns. He also scored twice on QB sneaks.

On the other hand, Gwynn also threw two interceptions that set up Spider TDs and had a fumble returned for another touchdown.

Rocco said, to some extent, Gwynn just tried to do too much. He had another pass that was basically a jump ball that receiver James Collins out-dueled some Spider defenders for.

“There is that fine line,” said Rocco. “He trusts his arm talent. ... He’s been able to extend plays, get out of the pocket and make throws. As he’s done that more and more, he’s gaining more confidence in his ability to do that.

“We’re adding a little bit of risk-reward there and he’s got to make better decisions in some of those moments.”

The Hens hadn’t turned the ball over in their previous two games.

Extra points

Safety Kedrick Whitehead was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty against Richmond after throwing the shoe of Spider running back Aaron Dykes following a play. “I saw it on tape and we certainly talked about it yesterday,” said Rocco. ... Richmond QB Joe Mancuso was named the CAA Offensive Player of the week for his performance against Delaware. ... Senior Days have been a little more uncertain this year because of the pandemic but Rocco said he has a pretty firm list of the Hens who will be honored before Saturday’s game. “In my mind there aren’t any surprises,” he said. “You might see it differently when you observe Saturday pre-game.”

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Defensive pressure feeds the offensive beast in Richmond’s highest scoring win this season
By LILY BETTS Richmond Times-Dispatch - 11/13/21

Defense has defined much of Richmond’s recent run of wins — as much was true Saturday, as well, but it also fed a hungry offense that put up its largest scoring output of the season in the Spiders’ final home game against Delaware.

Richmond quarterback Joe Mancuso recorded a season-high 116 rushing yards for two touchdowns, and the Spiders defense held Delaware’s Zach Gwynn to minus-22 yards on the ground in a 51-27 UR victory.

And while Gwynn outpaced Mancuso 331-168 through the air, the Spiders kept finding their way into the end zone or through the uprights. Seven different UR players found their way onto the scoresheet.

“It’s a whole ‘nother level,” Mancuso said. “All three phases played good today. Offense, defense, special teams. We all produced, we all did our job and the score shows what happens when we do that.”

The win brings the Spiders to four consecutive victories and an even record (5-5).

Richmond coach Russ Huesman said his Spiders benefitted from key players like Mancuso returning to field while the team held onto morale through a challenging midseason.

“In the middle of the season, we were pretty banged up,” Huesman said. “You can see how good of a player Joe Mancuso is, and not having him made a difference in how well we could play on offense.”

Huesman said Mancuso wasn’t 100% in his return during the Oct. 23 loss against Stony Brook, and Saturday was “probably the healthiest we’ve been for a long time now.”


Mancuso opened the game for Richmond with a 5-yard rush into the end zone on the first drive. The Spiders widened the gap once more at the end of the quarter with another run from Aaron Dykes.

Meanwhile, the defense capped the Blue Hens (5-5) at 59 offensive yards through the first period, compared to Richmond’s 117.

“The previous games we had, we haven’t really done well in the first half,” Mancuso said. “I think coming out today and putting those two touchdowns up really set the tone for the rest of the game.”

Gwynn’s production picked up speed through the middle two quarters, running for his two touchdowns and connecting with Thyrick Pitts for another score.

But the Spiders defense, led by Tristan Wheeler and Aamir Hall, kept Gwynn and his options under consistent pressure.

“Our defensive staff made the decision early that we were going to blitz them and blitz them just about every time,” Huesman said. “Obviously, it paid off. … We actually played better once we started to really bring a whole lot of pressure.”

Redshirt senior DL Kobie Turner collected his second score off a fumble recovery in just as many games, and Jasiah Williams’ (Thomas Dale) 13-yard reception in the end zone — the final score of the night — capped off a drive initiated by a Wheeler interception.

Richmond travels to Williamsburg to face No. 3 William & Mary for its final game Nov. 20, where the teams will battle it out for the Capital Cup.

“When we lost those couple of games in a row there, we had to reset our goals,” Huesman said. “One of them was that we wanted to win the Capital Cup, and the other was that we wanted to have a winning season. These guys have really hung in there with us, and we’ve reached the point where we can get to six.”

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Spiders finish off Blue Hens
November 13, 2021
By Andy Walter Delaware State News

What a difference a week makes.

For that matter, what a difference several months can make, too.

A week after surrendering just three points in a win over William & Mary, Delaware couldn’t do much to slow down Richmond as the Spiders ran away to a 51-27 CAA football victory over the Blue Hens at Robins Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The lopsided loss finishes off any lingering hope Delaware (3-4 CAA, 5-5 overall) had of sneaking into the NCAA FCS Division I playoffs — after it reached the FCS semifinals in the spring with mostly the same roster.

Considering the Hens host No. 8 Villanova next Saturday in their season finale, Delaware faces an uphill climb just to finish with a winning record.

The 51 points were the most that the Hens have given up against an FCS program since 2007, when they fell to Richmond, 62-56, in overtime — before going to the FCS national championship game.

“We didn’t have good answers today defensively, that’s for darn sure,” UD coach Danny Rocco said on his post-game radio interview. “What was the big difference (from last week)?

“Last week, going into the game, we really thought we knew what they were going to do. We weren’t as sure what they were going to do here this week. And they did some things that were unscouted, and with that they had a lot of success.

“It’s disappointing, it really is,” he added. “We’re 5-5 right now. We’re an average football team and that’s what we are.”

Delaware never led on Saturday after the Spiders (3-4 CAA, 5-5 overall), who won their third game in a row, jumped out to a 14-0 lead. But the Hens were still very much in the game in the third quarter when they trailed only 24-21 and just got the ball back.

That’s where the game came unraveled, however.

A Richmond interception and return to the Delaware seven set up a short TD for the Spiders. Then, on the next series, Blue Hen quarterback Zach Gwynn got crushed on a blindside blitz.

Gwynn lost the ball and Richmond defensive lineman Kobie Turner scooped up the fumble and returned it 17 yards for the Spiders’ second touchdown in a span of just 1:27. The TD stretched Richmond’s advantage to 37-21 and there wasn’t much Delaware could do to get back in the game.

Gwynn had his most productive college game, completing 25-of-45 passes for 331 yards and pair of touchdowns. He also scored twice on one-yard sneaks.

But the junior quarterback also threw two interceptions and lost the fumble, all in the second half. Gwynn hadn’t turned the ball over at all in Delaware’s back-to-back victories before Saturday.

“I think he just forced the ball,” Rocco said about Gwynn’s interceptions. “He’s trying to make a play. He made some throws. ... I think he had a little bit of confidence, a little bit of thought that he was going to be able to get the ball in there. He just should have thrown them away. He had no business trying to make a play there.”

QB Joe Mancuso — who was recruited to Richmond by Rocco and his staff — had another big day against the Hens. The senior completed 13-of-21 passes for 179 yards with three TDs while also running the ball for 116 yards and two more touchdowns on 14 carries.

Both teams put up some impressive offensive stats. The Spiders held a 380-371 edge in total yards while Delaware finished with a 22-19 advantage in first downs.

For Delaware, receiver Thyrick Pitts returned after missing last week’s game with an injury and pulled in 11 passes for 169 yards, both career highs. Gene Coleman (three catches-43 yards) also caught a scoring pass as the Hens equaled their second-highest point total of the season.

Seven different players caught at least two passes for Delaware.

On defense, safety Noah Plack finished with a career-high 14 tackles.

Rocco said it’s just the nature of football that things can change a lot from week to week. He hopes that’s the case again this coming week.

“You take a look at what we did a week ago, against a good team, and then what happened out here today against a team that was highly motivated and played like a good team,” he said. “Next week is a new week.

“We’ve got to be able to regroup and recognize that we can change the narrative as we go into the last week of the season.”

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Richmond Spiders vs Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens Preview, Game Time, Matchup Statistics for November 13.

Nov 8, 2021 - ESPN.com

The Richmond Spiders (4-5, 2-4 CAA) meet a fellow CAA foe when they host the Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens (5-4, 3-3 CAA) on Saturday, November 13, 2021 at E. Claiborne Robins Stadium.

Game Information
Game Day: Saturday, November 13, 2021

Game Time: 2:00 PM ET

Location: Richmond, Virginia

Stadium: E. Claiborne Robins Stadium

Richmond Stats and Trends
The Spiders have put roughly the same amount of points on the board per game (21.4) as the Fightin' Blue Hens have allowed (20.6).

The Spiders offense has averaged 337.7 yards per game this season, within 5.3 yards of the 332.4 the Fightin' Blue Hens defense has allowed.

The Fightin' Blue Hens have given up 127.9 rushing yards per game. That is 15.9 fewer than the Spiders are gaining per game (143.8).

The Spiders have turned the ball over nine times this season, and the Fightin' Blue Hens have nine takeaways.

Delaware Stats and Trends
The Fightin' Blue Hens' average points scored this season (19.7) and the Spiders' average points allowed (19.6) are within 0.1 points.

The Spiders defense has allowed 330.7 yards per game in 2021, 35.5 yards more than the 295.2 the Fightin' Blue Hens offense has averaged.

The Fightin' Blue Hens have averaged 127.4 yards per game on the ground this year, 16.0 more yards than the Spiders have allowed to opposing rushing attacks (111.4).

The Fightin' Blue Hens have committed one more turnover this season (9) than the Spiders have forced (8).

Richmond Players to Watch
Joe Mancuso has 1,310 passing yards (187.1 ypg) to lead Richmond, completing 59.8% of his passes and tossing 10 touchdown passes and six interceptions this season. He's also helped out on the ground with 236 rushing yards (33.7 ypg) on 43 carries with two rushing touchdowns.

Savon Smith has carried the ball 83 times for a team-high 421 yards (46.8 per game), with three touchdowns this year.

This season Aaron Dykes has rushed for 389 yards (43.2 per game) on 99 carries with four touchdowns, while also catching 20 passes for 221 yards (24.6 per game) and four touchdowns.

Leroy Henley's team-high 374 receiving yards (41.6 yards per game) have come on 31 receptions with two touchdowns.

Jasiah Williams has grabbed 34 passes for 335 yards (47.9 yards per game) this year.

Isaac Brown's 17 catches have netted him 231 yards (33.0 ypg) and two touchdowns.

Delaware Players to Watch
Zach Gwynn has thrown for 854 yards (122.0 ypg) to lead Delaware, completing 56.4% of his passes and tossing six touchdown passes and six interceptions this season.

The team's top rusher, DeJoun Lee, has carried the ball 155 times for 733 yards (81.4 per game), with four touchdowns this year.

This season Anthony Paoletti has rushed for 167 yards (18.6 per game) on 45 carries with three touchdowns.

Thyrick Pitts' team-high 488 receiving yards (61.0 yards per game) have come on 31 receptions with six touchdowns.

Gene Coleman II has hauled in 24 passes for 323 yards (35.9 yards per game) and one touchdown this year.

Brett Buckman's 12 receptions this season have resulted in 163 yards (27.2 ypg).
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CAA to ban JMU from league championship play if Dukes announce Sun Belt move
Mike Barber Nov 7, 2021 https://richmond.com/

The Colonial Athletic Association will not allow James Madison’s teams to compete for league championships this year if the school accepts an invitation to join another conference.

JMU athletic department officials informed the school’s athletes of the league’s decision on Wednesday night.

The Dukes are expected to formally move to the Sun Belt Conference next year, a move that could be announced as soon as Friday.

Automatic bids would be unavailable for the Dukes, but the decision would not block teams from receiving at-large bids for the NCAA tournament. This does not apply to the CAA-leading football team, which remains eligible for an automatic bid from the conference because of separate bylaws.

“As we head into a potentially monumental week for the future of James Madison University and our intercollegiate athletics program, we were extremely disappointed to be informed by the Colonial Athletic Association that, should the university accept an invitation to another conference, JMU student-athletes would not be allowed to compete for postseason conference team championships and, therefore, for the opportunity to earn NCAA automatic team qualification,” the school said in a joint statement from President Jonathan Alger and athletic director Jeff Bourne. “In an era when the industry of college athletics stresses student-athlete welfare, this decision is completely contrary to those ideals.”

The CAA has a bylaw that allows it to block schools from competing for conference championships if they’ve declared their intention to leave the league. It enforced that bylaw when Old Dominion left for Conference USA in 2013.

“We have great respect for JMU as a conference,” said CAA commissioner Joe D’Antonio. “... I’ll be honest. It’s not my job to determine whether it makes sense or doesn’t make sense. it’s my job to make sure the bylaws are enforced the way they’re written.”

That provided little consolation to JMU’s devastated athletes and coaches, who pointed to the stress and struggles of competing through a pandemic and the supposed focus on student-athlete well-being as circumstances that should have led the CAA to reconsider.

“It is hard being a college student right now, with COVID and isolation and all the challenges they have to endure,” said JMU men’s basketball coach Mark Byington. “For them to bring on more anxiety, more stress, more problems, it just seems tone deaf.”


JMU men’s soccer coach Paul Zazenski said his players were “having a hard time” processing the news. He said it’s hard to reconcile the emphasis on the student-athlete with the CAA decision.

“I don’t think that that was really taken into consideration at all,” said Zazenski, whose team had qualified for the league tournament but now won’t be allowed to compete. “It was about other things. It’s really tough for the student athletes.”

“It doesn’t have to be this way,” said JMU women’s lacrosse coach Shelly Klaes-Bawcombe. “We focus on championships. To rip that away, it’s really rough.”

JMU appealed to the presidents of the other conference schools on Monday night, but those presidents voted overwhelmingly to bar the Dukes from postseason play in 2021-22.

“We were thorough and heartfelt in appealing to the league’s council of presidents, but that appeal was denied,” JMU said in its statement. “Eight other Division I conferences have full members that have publicly announced an exit and yet all eight have allowed the student-athletes at those institutions to continue competing for championships. To our knowledge, the CAA is alone in this outdated bylaw. JMU has striven to be a good partner of the CAA and to treat other institutions as they would want to be treated, but that ideal is not being reciprocated. With our sights set on an important next step on Friday, it’s unfortunate that the CAA made this decision right in the middle of the fall championship season.”

The third-ranked Dukes’ football team is 7-1 and leads the CAA at 5-1, just ahead of William & Mary (4-1) and Villanova (4-1). The playoff contender is on track for the automatic bid it’s still eligible for. JMU also will not be permitted to host the four league tournaments it had been scheduled to host this year — men’s soccer, women’s basketball, women’s lacrosse and softball.

Athletes who compete in sports that sponsor individual championships — including swimming and diving and track and field — can still vie for those titles, but JMU’s teams cannot compete for team championships.

JMU, after receiving approval from its Board of Visitors last Friday to continue with plans to jump from the lower FCS level to the FBS level and pursue a Sun Belt invitation, is scheduled to meet with the General Assembly’s Intercollegiate Athletics Review Commission this Friday for the next step of the process.

Through a 2015 bill meant to subdue the costs of student athletic fees, JMU will have to present to the commission a plan showing the financial impact of its conference move and how it will address that impact. In the bill, schools at the FCS level can fund 70% of their athletic budget through student fees. But schools at the Group of Five FBS level where JMU is headed are capped at 55%.

Representatives at the school will meet with the commission at 10:30 a.m. on Friday morning in Richmond. Same-day approval of JMU’s plan could happen, which could allow for the school to formally move forward with joining the Sun Belt on Friday.

“If and when JMU does indicate to the conference that they are withdrawing as a member, then we do have a bylaw that indicates they will not be eligible to compete for conference championships,” said D’Antonio.

JMU will be permitted to compete in the CAA women’s soccer and field hockey tournaments, which are already set to begin this weekend.


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No. 20/23 William & Mary Falls at Delaware, 24-3
11/6/21 - https://tribeathletics.com/

In dominating its previous two opponents, No. 20/23 William & Mary ran the ball virtually at will. Delaware took that away Saturday, and the Tribe had no answer.

That, combined with field position strongly in their favor, led the Blue Hens to a 24-3 win over W&M at Delaware Stadium. The Tribe managed only 105 yards on the ground, 109 below its season average that led the Colonial Athletic Association.

The loss interrupts the William & Mary's momentum after crushing wins over Towson and No. 4 Villanova. The Tribe (6-3, 4-2) remains in the hunt for a playoff spot, but its margin of error became smaller with Saturday's loss.

"They out-executed us and outplayed us in a lot of scenarios that we've been pretty good at," W&M coach Mike London said. "They outcoached us and just played harder. We tried to come back in the (second) half, but against a good football team like that, we had our work cut out for us.

"The good thing is, there are ways for us to improve as a football team. Knowing that the next two games are home, we can finish the way these guys deserve."

W&M was without starting running back Donavyn Lester, who was injured in last week's win at Villanova. The Tribe still had Bronson Yoder and Malachi Imoh, who were averaging a combined 5.9 yards per carry. Neither was able to find much room Saturday with 78 yards on 22 attempts.

The passing game also struggled as quarterback Darius Wilson completed 12-of-24 passes for 123 yards and was sacked three times.

"There were a couple of times we had guys wide open but didn't get the ball to them," London said. "That goes back to us executing. If you're going to play good teams and play close games, you've got to be able to execute those things."

The final stats were a bid odd. W&M had the edge in total yards (228-201), first downs (14-12), total plays (65-52), and time of possession (31:19-27:49). But there was, as they call it, "the hidden yards."

Delaware's three touchdown drives covered a total of 82 yards. The first came after Malachi Imoh fumbled a punt at the Tribe 12-yard line. The second was set up when Delaware snuffed a fourth-and-1 at the W&M 34. The third came after an interception gave the Blue Hens possession at the Tribe 36.

"That was huge," London said. "It's critical with the field position when you start a possession on the other side of the 50. You get opportunities for field goals at least.

"They capitalized on those opportunities. We didn't."

London's decision to keep the offense on the field on fourth-and-1 from his 34-yard line came late in the first quarter with Delaware leading 7-3. The Tribe had converted four of five tries on fourth down in its previous two games.

This time, Yoder was stopped for no gain.

"In the past, we've done a really good job of getting one yard," London said. "But they did a good job, and we didn't do enough."

Another factor was turnovers. The Tribe had forced 10, eight on interceptions, in its previous two games. It had one takeaway against Delaware, and that came in the fourth quarter with the Blue Hens ahead by three touchdowns.

Things actually started well enough for William & Mary, which picked up three first downs and moved inside the red zone on its first possession. The Tribe ended up settling for Ethan Chang's 24-yard field goal and added 40 total yards the remainder of the first half.

The Tribe will return to Zable Stadium Saturday to face No. 3 James Madison. W&M's regular-season finale will be on Nov. 20 against Richmond.

Each game will have plenty on the line.

"Hopefully a lot of people will be there and we can celebrate the fact that this team is not going to quit," London said. "We're ready to move on after we get these things corrected.

"You can go over and talk about the things we didn't do (today). But there are plenty of opportunities to have a measured amount of success."
 
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Blue Hens silence William & Mary 24-3
November 6, 2021 Delaware State News
By Andy Walter

NEWARK — A couple weeks ago, Delaware’s football season looked like it was going nowhere but downhill.

Even last Saturday’s seven-point win over winless Dixie State didn’t do anything to pump any life into the Blue Hens’ season.

Finally, though, Delaware’s decisive 24-3 victory over No. 20 William & Mary on Saturday afternoon at Delaware Stadium gave UD fans reason to think the Hens might still accomplish some more good things this fall after all.

“I think we kind of dealt ourselves back into relevance here,” is the way Delaware coach Danny Rocco put it.

While the Tribe (4-2 CAA, 6-3 overall) are hardly the league’s best team, they did just topple No. 4 Villanova a week ago. William & Mary had also scored at least 31 points in four of its last five games.

But Delaware (3-3 CAA, 5-4 overall) limited the Tribe to three points, the first time they been held without a touchdown by an FCS program since 2018. William & Mary finished with only 228 yards, including just 105 on the ground — less than half of its league-leading average 214.4 rushing yards per game.

The Hens also stopped the Tribe on four out of five fourth-down tries.

“I said it three weeks ago and I was criticized for it,” said Rocco. “I basically said I am not going to allow these kids to get discouraged. I can’t let that happen. We’ve had moments where that would be almost the human thing to do — is just be discouraged and get down.

“But we fought through it. Next week is next week, tomorrow is tomorrow. ... but today is a good feeling for all of us. They represented, I think, at a really high level.”

On a day when the Hens’ offense took advantage of some short fields, safety Noah Plack turned in two of the biggest plays of the sunny afternoon.

First, Plack helped force a fumble with a big hit on a punt return and then recovered the loose ball himself at the William & Mary 12 yard line. Two plays later, running back DeJoun Lee (19 carries-46 yards) swept into the end zone on a 12-yard run that gave Delaware a 7-3 lead with 3:32 left in the first quarter.

Then, on its next series, the Tribe decided to go for it on a fourth-and-one despite being at their own 34.

That’s when Plack charged up and knocked ball carrier Bronson Yoder off his feet short of the first down. The stop, which came with some help from linebacker Liam Trainer, set up Delaware again.

This time quarterback Zach Gwynn lobbed a 25-yard TD pass to receiver James Collins (6 catches-73 yards), who made a juggling catch to give the Hens a 14-3 advantage early in the second quarter.

“I just feel like Coach (Manny) Rojas puts us in the right spot at the right time,” said Plack, referring to UD’s defensive coordinator. “A bunch of people, we play a lot of different positions at different times. I just feel like we are a very versatile group on defense and we are able to do all those things at a high level.”

In part because of its good field position, Delaware finished with only 201 yards of offense. But Gwynn had another efficient day, completing 17-of-21 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns.

Most importantly, Gwynn didn’t throw any interceptions for the second straight game — and against a William & Mary defense that had a remarkable eight interceptions in its last two games.

Gwynn’s second TD pass came with 13:58 remaining in the game when he drilled an eight-yard pass to Jourdan Townsend at the front pylon. Gwynn had completions to nine different receivers.

The Hens were playing without starting receiver Thyrick Pitts and tight end Bryce DeMaille, who were both added to Delaware’s long list of injured players. But Delaware’s makeshift offensive line gave Gwynn a lot of time on a few of his throws.

“I think Coach (Jared) Ambrose mixed it up well, moving me around,” said Gwynn, referring to UD’s offensive coordinator. “It kept them off balance a little bit I think. Also, the offensive line played awesome today. They gave me all the time in the world. ... They wanted to keep me upright. That was something they really wanted to do this week.”

That last touchdown came after Delaware cornerback Amonte Strothers hit Tribe quarterback Darius Wilson on a blitz. The ball popped up in the air where linebacker Johnny Buchanan intercepted it and returned it 24 yards.

Buchanan and Trainer were both in on a game-high 12 tackles each.

“Those two guys are just fun to watch,” said Rocco. “If you like watching football, just watch those two guys. ... They are non-stop all game long and they want more. It’s extraordinary.”

The Hens still face an uphill climb to even be considered for an NCAA FCS playoff berth. They’d still have to win at Richmond next Saturday and then beat Villanova at home in their season finale.

But at least beating William & Mary kept Delaware in the running.

“Any kind of momentum we can get, we’ll take,” said Gwynn. “We have two more games left that we’ve got to win. There’s a lot of things to fix still. but we’ll use this momentum to keep getting better next week.”

Rocco said he talked to his players on Friday about coming up with a “defining moment” for their season.

“Maybe, in some way, that’s what we were able to establish today,” he said. “But again, you start over tomorrow.”

Extra points

Delaware converted just 1-of-11 third-down opportunities. ... William & Mary’s Wilson completed 12-of-24 passes for 123 yards with the one interception and three sacks. The true freshman was limited to negative-12 yards on 10 carries. ... UD cornerback Justis Henley made a nice interception along the sidelines but it was wiped out by a roughing-the-passer penalty. ... Kicker Ryan Coe made a 48-yard field goal but missed one from 39. ... Long snapper Jake Reed was also credited with forcing the fumble on the punt return. ... Saturday’s game drew 10,021 fans.
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No. 20/23 W&M Tribe Football Concludes Regular Season Road Slate at Delaware on Saturday
 
11/3/2021 - Tribeathletics.com/

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Having won six of its last seven games, including 31-18 victory at then-No. 4 Villanova last weekend, the No. 20/23 Tribe will conclude its regular season road slate at Delaware on Saturday at 1 p.m.

The game will be streamed on FloFootball. By following this link (flosports.tv/caa), CAA fans can sign up for an annual subscription to FloSports, which remains at a reduced rate of $95.88 per year ($7.99 per month) or a discounted monthly rate of $12.50. Also, anyone who subscribes using a CAA member Institution domain (.edu) e-mail address will be eligible for a $6.99 subscription rate per month. Any subscription provides access to all content that FloSports offers.

Fans can also listen to the live broadcast over the airwaves locally on The Tide 92.3 FM and 107.9 FM and via the internet on Stretch Live and TuneIn.

Live stats will be available at BlueHens.com, while fans can follow the action on Twitter at @WMTribeFootball.

Tickets for the contest are available here.

All attendees at Delaware home football games, ages 12 and older, must provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative PCR coronavirus test taken within 72 hours of the event. "Full vaccination" means that guests have received their final COVID-19 vaccine dose at least 14 days in advance of the day of the game. Authentic proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test will be accepted as long as the test was taken within 72 hours of the day of the game through a medical or accredited company; please note that "at home tests" will not be accepted. More information is available here.

#20/23 William & Mary at Delaware (Game 9)
Date Saturday, Nov. 6
Time 1 p.m.
Location Newark, Del. (Delaware Stadium)
Tickets Ticket Info | COVID Guidelines
Live Game Coverage TV: None
Radio: The Tide 92.3FM | Listen Live
Video: FloFootball
Internet Options Live Stats
Official Web Sites W&M | Delaware | CAA
Game Notes W&M | Delaware
Statistics W&M | Delaware
Pregame Media W&M Press Conference: Coach London
CAA Teleconference: Coach London | Coach Rocco
Official Social Media Info
Facebook W&M Football | W&M Athletics | CAA Football
Twitter W&M Football (in-game updates) | W&M Athletics | CAA Football
Twitter Hashtags #GoTribe | #CAAFB
Instagram W&M Football | W&M Athletics | CAA Football


W&M enters Saturday's game with a 6-2 record overall and a 4-1 mark in conference play. The Tribe jumped into the national rankings this week for the first time since 2016 (No. 20 Stats Perform Poll / No. 23 AFCA Coaches Poll) following its lopsided win at then-No. 4 Villanova. W&M currently leads the Colonial Athletic Association and ranks 13th nationally with 216.9 rushing yards per game. Additionally, the Tribe leads the conference with 16 rushing touchdowns and is averaging 5.2 yards per carry. Defensively, W&M has totaled 19 takeaways this season - 13 interceptions and six fumble recoveries - which ranks tied for fifth nationally. W&M's 13 interceptions ranks tied for third nationally, while it has recorded eight in the last two contests - all by different players.

Ranked as high as No. 6 earlier this season, Delaware enters the weekend with a 4-4 record overall and a 2-3 mark in conference play after losing three of its last four contests. Although the Blue Hens rank among the top teams in the conference defensively and are allowing just 345.4 total yards per game, their offense has struggled to find the end zone and are averaging just 19.1 points per game.

Saturday's contest will mark the 43rd meeting between W&M and Delaware, as the Blue Hens hold a 24-18 advantage. UD owns a 14-6 advantage in games played in Newark.

Tribe v. Hens Game Notes: https://static.tribeathletics.com/custompages/files/fb/2021/delaware.pdf

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Delaware’s Strothers is happy to find football
By Andy Walter - Delaware State News 11/1/21

NEWARK — The way Amonte Strothers tells it, he and football used to have a love-hate relationship.

He tried the sport once — working as a kicker in his sophomore year in high school — but quit after a couple games.

His high school coach, though, saw too much potential to just let the youngster walk away.

“He was coming to my house every day, begging me to play football,” said Strothers. “But I really wasn’t into it. One day I just gave it a shot and fell in love.”

Not only did Strothers succeed in high school — he helped Steel Valley (Pa.) High to a two-year record of 26-1 — but he’s now one of the top three cornerbacks for Delaware.

With the Blue Hens (2-3 CAA, 4-4 overall) hosting No. 20 William & Mary (4-1 CAA, 6-2 overall) on Saturday at 1 p.m., Strothers leads the team with a pair of interceptions. He almost picked off a third one in Delaware’s 17-10 win over Dixie State on Saturday.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Strothers, who played basketball, said he never expected to be in this position just a few years ago.

“It’s definitely wild,” he said. “I still take it in almost every day that I’m actually still here and playing football. It’s something that I don’t think will ever get old for me. I’m still here.

“A lot of people, when they hear I didn’t start playing until my junior year, they’re like, ‘There’s no way you should be here. There’s just no way — for you to start that late and develop this far and play DI ball.’ It’s definitely something that I look at every day.”

Delaware coach Danny Rocco likes Strothers’ story. He calls him a “really special young man.”

Rocco said the junior from Homestead, Pennsylvania, is not only trying to make an impact on the football field but also in the world around him.

“He really wants to do something with his life,” said Rocco. “He sees a college education and a scholarship in football as maybe an opportunity to kind of make a new life for himself.”

Rocco said the Blue Hens’ coaching staff knew that Strothers didn’t have a long background in the sport when they first signed him. The youngster had been a second-team All-Stater his senior year in high school and took recruiting visits to FBS programs Purdue and Toledo.

But he said Strothers has worked hard to get up to speed.

“He’s got a really good skill set,” said Rocco. “He can play man coverage. He’s long, he’s athletic, he’s smart. He’s got good instincts, he’s got good hands. We’re really pleased with Amonte and his development.”

Strothers said he learned a great deal from the Hens’ former veteran defensive backs, like Tim Adewusi and Nasir Aderley, both of whom ended up in the NFL. He said senior cornerback Nijuel Hill still keeps helping him to get better.

“Sitting down with him is definitely one of the best things that could have happened to me,” said Strothers. “He looks after me like I’m his little brother. He takes care of me and teaches me the tricks of the trade.”

Indeed, being part of a large group is one of the things Strothers said he likes most about playing football.

“You meet some great people,” said Strothers. “Getting on a team with 100 people is really interesting. You get to see a lot of people and meet new personalties.”

Gwynn stepping up

Quarterback Zach Gwynn clearly had his best passing game so far against Dixie State.

He completed 19-of-28 passes for 215 yards with no interceptions.

Offensive tackle Ben Trent, for one, said he wasn’t surprised to see the QB getting better in his third game as a starter.

“You can take all the practice reps in the world but it’s never a game rep,” said Trent. “Zach does a really good job in practice. He always works really hard.

“He’s getting game experience under his belt. It was his third start and I think it showed that he’s getting more comfortable with us. He’s making things happen — as we all know he can and that he will continue to do as the season goes on. I’m just so proud of him and glad to see the things he’s doing.”

With that in mind, Rocco said the Hens need to keep pushing things to make Gwynn and the offense even more productive. Rocco said on Monday that the coaching staff did call things conservatively to avoid running into trouble against Dixie State.

“He’s progressing,” Rocco said about Gwynn. “He’s able to manage and handle more of the plan. ... I feel like our playbook will be much more open this week and we will not limit things in terms of what he cannot do.

“We’re certainly going to do things that he does best and is the most comfortable with. But we’re going to have to create more opportunities for big plays. That’s the bottom line — we’ve got to get some more explosive plays out of our offense.”

Trent gets his chance

Ben Trent had gotten some playing time during his four-year career at Virgina, but it was almost exclusively on special teams.

So when he transferred to Delaware for his final year of eligibility, the offensive tackle was just trying to get a chance to play a little more offense.

With the pandemic hitting, however, the 6-foot-5, 305-pounder has ended up seeing more time than he could have hoped for.

Because Delaware also played a spring season, Trent has seen action in 15 games this calendar year after becoming a full-time starter this fall.

“It’s been definitely a wild journey,” said Trent. “When I first got here, I was expecting it to just be one year. Get a master’s, play one more year of football and kind of move on. Then COVID came around and I was like, why not keep it rolling after the spring?

“It’s been great. Delaware has given me a lot of opportunities to be able to live my dream of actually playing college football. ... It’s been a dream come true.”

With Trent’s father, Richard, being a longtime high school coach in Virginia, Rocco knew a little bit about the family already. He said Trent reported to fall camp in as good a shape as ever.

“He’s a great kid,” said Rocco. “He gives you everything he has. He cares a lot. He understands the game and it means a lot to him. I’m really happy that we have him on our team.”

Extra points

Delaware punter Tyler Pastula was named the Colonial Athletic Association Special Teams Player of the Week. He averaged 43.3 yards per kick and put three of his four punts inside the Dixie State 10. ... Delaware’s attendance of 8,391 last Saturday was its lowest for a home game since a contest against Lehigh in November, 1967. ... James Madison moved back to No. 3 in Monday’s STATS FCS poll while Villanova dropped from No. 4 to No. 10.
================================================
 
Where’d everybody go?
10/30/21
From: https://www.delawareonline.com/story/sports/2021/10/31/delaware-dixie-state-historically-small-crowd-sees-blue-hens-win/6134170001/

Leading up to Saturday’s game, some fans had predicted it would be a small crowd, with Delaware losing three straight and a winless opponent with little name recognition visiting.

But 8,391?

It was the smallest attendance with full-capacity permitted at Delaware Stadium in 54 years, when 8,275 attended the Nov. 11 home finale of the 1967 season. That was Tubby Raymond’s second year as coach in which a very young team went 2-7, though the Blue Hens did rout 1960s whipping boy Lehigh 33-10 that afternoon.

COLLINS WAS CONFIDENT: Mount Pleasant grad shows DI talent with Hens

The last time attendance was below 10,000 for a regular-season game was when 8,667 attended the 1968 West Chester encounter, but the stadium then held just 13,500. It was expanded to 20,000 seats in 1970 and 22,700 in 1972. The 2019 refurbishment reduced capacity and a sellout Parents Day crowd of 18,080 did attend the 20-15 win over Albany on Oct. 2 this season.
The west stands of Delaware Stadium show plenty of available seats in the second quarter of the Blue Hens' 17-10 win against Dixie State at Delaware Stadium Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021.

Delaware’s previous smallest regular-season crowd since and including 1969 had been 11,646 for the 1994 Rhode Island game.

From 2002-2009, Delaware had 20,000-plus fans for 44 straight regular-season games. It averaged more than 20,00 from the 1999 through 2010 regular seasons.

Many factors have contributed to declining attendance over the past 10 years at Delaware games, such as less success by Blue Hen teams, an aging fan base, more games on television and social media leading to changing viewing habits by younger fans.

But a drop-off that significant is both astonishing and revealing, though it’s up to UD officials to determine exactly what it divulges.

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Dixie State Trailblazers Drop Heartbreaker at Delaware Saturday
10/30//2021 - dixiestateathletics.com

Despite putting up its best overall performance of the 2021 season, Dixie State came up just short of its first win in a hard-fought 17-10 loss at Delaware on Saturday afternoon at Delaware Stadium. 

After giving up a touchdown on the Blue Hens' (4-4) opening drive, the Trailblazers were on the march for a possible score of their own. 

Thanks to a clutch 3-yard run by Drew Kannely-Robles on fourth down, followed by an 18-yard Koby Tracy to Rickie Johnson connection, DSU found itself just outside of the UDel red zone. However the drive would be thwarted two plays later when Tracy was intercepted at the Blue Hen 8-yard line by Andrew Pawlowski. 

Both sides exchanged punts through the remainder of the first period before Delaware took its initial possession of the second quarter 41 yards in four plays to the DSU 7-yard line. But this time it would be the Trailblazer defense that would come up with the big turnover as safety Tyrell Grayson forced a Gene Coleman II fumble at the 5-yard line, and Colby Williams pounced on the loose ball. 

It remained a one-score game until the 2:47 mark when Blue Hen running back Dejoun Lee capped a 7-play, 81-yard run with a 1-yard dive to give Delaware a 14-0 cushion. 

The Trailblazers (0-8) answered back with a touchdown of their own on their very next possession when Tracy found Michael Moten for a 20-yard strike, which cut the deficit in half at 14-7 with 1:04 to play in the half. Tracy threw for 54 yards on the scoring drive, which was also aided by a Blue Hen pass interference call. 

Delaware then struck for the final points of the half when Ryan Coe nailed a 43-yard field goal at the horn to take a 17-7 lead into the intermission.

Dixie State came out of the locker room and struck quickly for its biggest play of the day. Tracy hit Kannely-Robles with a short pass, and the senior back did the rest by weaving through the Blue Hen defense for 58 yards down to the Delaware 25. 

Unfortunately for the Blazers, the promising drive stalled three plays later and DSU had to settle for a Connor Brooksby 33-yard field goal that made it a 17-10 game.

After giving up just over 300 yards in the first half, the Trailblazer defense played lights outs in the second 30 minutes, holding Delaware scoreless while surrendering just 38 total yards in the third quarter and 68 yards overall in the half. 

The defense also forced its second turnover of the day late in the third when Jayden Sheridan stripped the ball away UDel receiver Thyrick Pitts at the DSU 15-yard line. Sam Kanongata'a recovered the fumble as the Blazers again turned away another Blue Hen scoring threat. 

Dixie State had its chances to tie the game in the fourth, but a bad snap with Tracy in the shot gun derailed one promising drive and led to a Blazer punt.

Then after the Trailblazer defense held on 4th and 1 at the DSU 34 with 1:16 remaining, DSU took advantage of two costly Delaware penalties and pair of Tracy completions to get to the Blue Hen 32 yard line with :08 seconds left. Time enough for one more play, Tracy took the snap, bought some time and let fly an attempt that fell incomplete as the clock hit zeroes. 


Tracy threw for a career-high 314 yards on 29-of-39 passing to go with his touchdown. A week after recording his first career 100-yard rushing game, Kannely-Robles eclipsed the century mark in receiving as he hauled in six passes for a career-best 112 yards. Meanwhile Moten finished just one-yard shy of the triple digits as he racked up 99 receiving yards on six catches to go with his second TD grab in as many games. 

Dixie State finished with 310 yards of total offense, though the Blazers were held to minus-4 yards rushing after two Delaware sacks and 20 lost yards on the costly bad snap in the fourth quarter. 

Grayson collected a team-high 12 tackles (7 solo) to complement his forced fumble to lead the Blazer defense, while Malaki Malaki tallied 11 tackles. 

Dixie State will close out its 2021 road slate at defending 2020-21 FCS champion and No. 1-ranked Sam Houston next Saturday in Huntsville, Texas. Kick-off is slated for 12 noon (CT).
===================================================
 
Hens just good enough to end losing streak
October 30, 2021 7:05 pm
By Andy Walter - Delaware State News

NEWARK — Delaware’s football players had already run out onto the field to celebrate their first victory in a month.

But then the officials said, not so fast.

With both the Blue Hens and Dixie State’s players sent back to their sidelines, the referees reviewed the video to see whether a Delaware player had committed a targeting penalty on the game’s final play.

Finally, the official determined that there was no penalty and the Hens had indeed outlasted the Trailblazers, 17-10, before a crowd of 8,391 at Delaware Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

It was a pretty anti-climactic ending to the ho-hum victory that snapped a three-game losing streak for Delaware (4-4) and kept Dixie State (0-8) winless.

“I didn’t know what was going on, to be honest,” safety Kedrick Whitehead said about the ending. “I had faith we were going to stop them either way, whether they had another play, another two plays, it didn’t matter to me.

“It doesn’t matter how we win or what we win by,” the Middletown High grad added. “We come away with that ‘W,’ that’s all that matters.”

The Trailblazers, who came all the way from Utah for the first meeting between the two Division I FCS programs, had reached the Hens’ 32 yard line with five seconds remaining.

Dixie State quarterback Kobe Tracy rolled out and flung the ball toward the end zone — where it sailed over everyone’s heads, landing harmlessly out of bounds. Once the potential targeting call was waved off, Delaware had survived.

After earning their first victory since Oct. 2, the Hens weren’t really in a position to get too picky about the way they won.

To be fair, Delaware actually did some good things, especially in the first half.

A week after totaling just 109 yards of offense in a loss to James Madison, the Hens had piled up 312 yards by halftime on Saturday. They scored just their second first-quarter touchdown of the season, limited Dixie State to negative-four yards rushing for the game and quarterback Zach Gwynn had his best passing day, completing 19-of-28 passes for 215 yards with no interceptions.

On the other hand, Delaware twice fumbled inside the Dixie State 20, surrendered 314 passing yards to Tracy and went scoreless in the second half after taking a 17-7 second-quarter lead.

“We came into the locker room at halftime and I felt really good about what we were doing,” said UD coach Danny Rocco. “It could have been 24-7 and we could have been in a really, really good spot. But, in the second half, we got very little going offensively.

“We’re 4-4 and we’re going to have to play a heck of a lot better next week when we get back into conference play.”

Senior running back Dejoun Lee finished with an even 100 yards and a TD on 23 carries. It was his fourth 100-yard day in the last six games and made him just the ninth player in school history with over 4,000 all-purpose yards.

Lee wasn’t sure what changed in the second half.

Delaware managed only 98 net yards with three punts and a fumble on five second-half drives.

“In the first half, we finally felt like we were playing like ourselves a little bit,” said Lee. “In the second half, we didn’t play the way we wanted to.”

Delaware’s offensive line has been a work in progress all season — in part because of injuries and health.

With 1:16 left, the Hens had a chance to put the game out of reach when they faced a fourth-and-one at the Dixie State 34. But QB Anthony Paoletti was stopped for a one-yard loss, giving the Trailblazers their last-gasp chance.

“We’re not executing consistently enough to be a good team or to beat a good team,” said Rocco.

“We’re getting beat at the point of attack more often than we should be. We’re certainly getting beat at the point of attack more than we were in our last cycle (in the spring). ... We’re not that same team right now in being able to gash and crease and get those plays in our run game. So we are grinding it out.”

Grinding it out may not work next week when the Hens host William & Mary in a CAA matchup. The Tribe knocked off No. 4 Villanova, 31-18, on Saturday to improve to 6-2.

Delaware realized the way it played on Saturday probably won’t be good enough to get a second straight victory. Lee, for one, still hasn’t given up on the hope that there’s a better team that still might show itself.

“This team’s potential is out of this world,” said Lee. “And I can say that confidently and I mean it. That’s the hardest thing about the way this season has gone and it makes us so hungry to finish it the right way. We know we can.”

Extra points

Whitehead had a team-high 10 tackles while safety Andrew Pawlowski had an interception. ... Paoletti scored Delaware’s first touchdown on a three-yard run. It was his third TD of the season. ... Rocco on the number of video reviews during the game: “I don’t think I’ve been in a game where I have seen so many stoppages from the box,” he said. ... Rocco on Gwynn’s play: “Zach, I thought, was in rhythm, he got the ball out, I thought he made some good throws. I thought there were some moments out there today where he really was confident getting the ball down the field.” ... Rocco said there’s a chance that linebackers Colby Reeder (ribs) and Drew Nickles could return before the end of the season.
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Dixie State University (DSU) Trailblazers Travel Cross Country for Road Date at Delaware
10/27/2021 12:13:00 PM DSU Athletic Media Relations

2021 Dixie State Trailblazers Football (0-7/0-2 WAC)
Game No. 8
at Delaware (3-4)
Saturday, October 30; 11 a.m. (MT)
Delaware Stadium (18,077); Newark, Del.
Game Notes: DIXIE STATE - PDF | UD - PDF
Dixie State Football Media Central
Live TV: None
Live Streaming Video: FloSports.TV
Live Audio: ESPN RADIO 97.7 FM
Live Stats: at DELAWARE
Twitter: @DixieAthletics | @DixieState_FB | #DixieBlazers | #WeAreONE | #TheRISE | #WACfb

OPENING KICK: Dixie State (0-7/0-2 WAC) begins its final road swing of the 2021 campaign this Saturday, October 30, with a non-conference date at Delaware (3-4/2-3 CAA). Kick-off is slated for 1 p.m. (ET), at Delaware Stadium in Newark.
 
ABOUT THE DELAWARE "BLUE HENS": Delaware enters Saturday's game looking to snap its longest losing skid of the season, which reached three games after the Blue Hens dropped a hard-fought 22-10 Homecoming decision to current No. 5 James Madison last Saturday in Newark.
The Blue Hens opened the season winners of three of their first four, with the lone loss coming against FBS and Big Ten member Rutgers (13-45; 9/18).
Junior QB Zach Gywnn has thrown for 482 yards and four touchdowns to this point of the season. Gywnn took over as the Blue Hens' senior starting QB Nolan Henderson was lost for the year earlier this month. Graduate running back and Walter Payton Award candidate Dejoun Lee has rushed for 593 yards (84.7 ypg) and two touchdowns, while graduate WR Thyrick Pitts leads the team in receptions (24), yards (407) and touchdowns (6).
Delaware is averaging 19.4 ppg and 296.0 yards of total offense, while allowing 24.6 ppg and 349.4 yards in seven games. 

DIXIE STATE/UD SERIES HISTORY: Saturday's game at Delaware will be the first-ever meeting between the Trailblazers and Blue Hens on the football field.

GO EAST YOUNG MEN: Saturday's game at Delaware will mark just the second time in the program's four-year era that the Trailblazers will have played a game EAST of the Mississippi River. In fact, the estimated 4,664-mile trip will be the longest road trip DSU has embarked on to play an NCAA football game.
Last season, the Blazers traveled nearly 3,900 miles to Georgia to play at Kennesaw State (L, 27-37; 3/20/21), which was the first-ever game DSU had played in the Eastern Time Zone.
In addition, Saturday's game at Delaware will be the third time that Dixie State has faced an opponent located east of the "Mighty Mississipp, the Old Miss, the Old Man." In the 2007 season, DSU hosted Carson-Newman (from Jefferson City, Tenn.) at then Hansen Stadium (L, 13-35; 9/29/07).

HITTING THE TRAIL: Last spring, Dixie State traveled over 7,500 miles for its three road games at Tarleton State (Stephenville, Texas - 2,220 miles), at New Mexico State (played in El Paso, Texas - 1,458 miles), and at Kennesaw State (Kennesaw, Ga.)
This season, the Blazers are scheduled to travel over 12,000 miles for their five road dates, which includes this weekend's record road trip to Delaware.
DSU also traveled nearly 2,700 to play at South Dakota State (10/2), and will cover just over 2,000 miles to play at current No. 1 Sam Houston next weekend.
 
DIXIE STATE ON THE AIR: All Dixie State home and away games this season are broadcast live on ESPN Radio 97.7 FM, with Devin Dixon calling the play-by-play action and Andy Thompson providing color commentary. A live stream of the radio broadcast will be available at sportsradio977.com.
Along with the radio coverage, all Dixie State home games will be streamed live on ESPN+.
In August, the Western Athletic Conference announced a new multi-year, multi-platform media rights agreement with the "The Worldwide Leader" that will see over 500 annual events on ESPN+ and the ESPN app. This will include all Dixie State football, men's basketball, and women's basketball home games and WAC road games.

LAST TIME OUT: Despite a season-high tying 167 yards rushing and a home season-best 410 yards of total offense, Dixie State remained winless on the season following a 37-20 Homecoming loss to new WAC member Stephen F. Austin last Saturday night at Greater Zion Stadium.
After spotting SFA a 20-3 halftime lead, the Trailblazers managed to make a two-score game on a couple of occasions in the second half. However DSU could not get a key stop when it needed to as SFA answered every Blazer score with one of its own to keep DSU's first win of the year out of reach. 

NEW YEAR-NEW HOME: After making its D-I debut as one of three FCS independents last spring, Dixie State is in its first season as a football playing member of the WAC, joining the other 14 Trailblazer Athletic programs under the conference umbrella.
Due to previous game contract agreements for 2021, the Trailblazers were not eligible to be listed in the preseason WAC Coaches' Poll, and will face only three of the five football playing conference members.
Following Saturday's game vs. SFA, DSU will close out its 2021 road slate at WAC newcomer and current No. 1-ranked Sam Houston, which is the defending 2020-21 NCAA FCS champion, on Nov. 6. 
Starting in 2022, Dixie State, Tarleton, SFA, Sam Houston, Lamar and Abilene Christian, and current Big Sky member and in-state foe Southern Utah, will make up the seven-team WAC FCS conference.

SO ABOUT THAT SCHEDULE: To paraphrase the legendary Ric Flair - "To be the best, you gotta beat the best!!!" And judging by who is on the Trailblazers' 2021 schedule, they will have plenty of opportunities to do just that.
Dixie State's 2021 fall slate is arguably the toughest schedule in the country at the FCS subdivision, a schedule that features seven FCS Spring playoff teams, and an 11-team list that posted a combined .714 overall winning percentage (record based on last completed season). 
To date, nine of the 11 teams on DSU's slate are listed in the current 2021 AFCA FCS Coaches' top-25 poll, including seven ranked opponents, five of which the Blazers' have already played.
Defending NCAA FCS champion and WAC newcomer Sam Houston tops the poll and will host DSU next weekend in Huntsville, Texas, while the Blazers will close out the year at home against current No. 20 Missouri State on Nov. 20.

DIXIE STATE AGAINST RANKED OPPONENTS: Dixie State's 2021 schedule has given the Blazers a chance to improve on their record against ranked opponents, which currently stands at 3-22 all-time, which includes an 0-4 mark so far this season against teams which were ranked when DSU faced them.
DSU did split a pair of games against ranked opponents last spring, highlighted by its third-ever triumph over a ranked foe in last spring's season opener at then No. 22 Tarleton (Stat Perform ranking, 26-14; 2/27/21). Dixie State also dropped a hard-fought 37-27 decision at then-No. 9 Kennesaw State (AFCA and Stat Perform; 3/20/21).
Prior to the Tarleton road result, the last DSU win vs. a ranked opponent came on Nov. 3, 2018, in a 52-45 thriller at home against then-No. 6 Colorado School of Mines. DSU claimed its first win over a ranked opponent in a 38-31 victory at then-No. 23 Colorado Mesa in Grand Junction in 2016.

TRAILBLAZER QUICK HITS:
• Senior RB Drew Kannely-Robles has been on quite the tear over the past three weeks, averaging 106.7 yards with three total touchdowns during this current stretch.
• Kannely-Robles saved his best for his final Homecoming start as the senior rushed for a career-high 183 yards on 24 carries with his third touchdown of the year last Saturday vs. SFA.
• Kannely-Robles tallied 141 of those yards after halftime, highlighted a 47-yard sprint up the middle untouched to the end zone in the third quarter, which was the longest run of his collegiate career, and was DSU's longest scoring play of the season.
• Kannely-Robles' career night also served not only has his first collegiate 100-yard outing, it was also the first 100-yard rushing game of DSU's new FCS era ... Meanwhile, his 183 rush yards were the ninth-most in a single game in the program's NCAA era.
• Kannely-Robles also finished with a career-best 196 all-purpose yards as he caught three passes out of the backfield for 13 yards.
• Kannely-Robles' career night came on the heels of an 81-yard performance on 20 carries and two touchdowns vs. Tarleton State (10/16).
• Kannely-Robles' two rushing touchdowns also tied a career-high ... the senior first achieved that feat nearly two years to the day in a road win at Western Colorado (28-20; 10/19/19).
• Kannely-Robles has racked up 627 all-purpose yards on the year, with 385 of those yards coming over his last three games.
• Freshman RB Quali Conley rushed for a season-high 66 yards on seven carries vs. Tarleton (10/16), which included a 39-yard second quarter scamper that got the Blazers into the red zone.
• Conley's first (and lone) touchdown of the year came at UC Davis (9/18) on a first quarter 8-yard screen pass that got the Blazers on the board.
• Conley has scored at least one touchdown in five of his first 12 collegiate games overall, including four of five starts last spring ... four of Conley's seven career TDs have come on the ground, while his catch at UCD was his third TD reception.
• Conley was DSU's leading rusher in all five spring games, highlighted by a 97-yard night vs. Tarleton (3/13), and a pair of 81-yard outings at both New Mexico State (3/7) and at Kennesaw State (3/20) ... the freshman also tallied a team-high 26 yards on eight carries in the Sacramento State (9/4) loss.
• RS-Freshman QB Kobe Tracy made his first collegiate start last Saturday vs. SFA and responded with 243 yards on 22-38-1 passing, highlighted by a 35-yard TD toss to sophomore WR Michael Moten late in the fourth quarter.
• Tracy came off the bench and went 11-15-1 for 111 in the fourth quarter vs. Tarleton (10/16), including a big 41-yard hookup with sophomore WR Keith Davis, which set up the second Kannely-Robles TD run.
• Sophomore QB Kenyon Oblad threw for 108 yards on 15-30-1 passing vs. Tarleton (10/16) ... Oblad has thrown for 878 yards and five touchdowns in five games this season.
• Oblad made his first Trailblazer start at UC Davis (9/18), against which he threw for 342 yards and a collegiate career-high four touchdowns in the loss.
• Oblad's four TD passes eclipsed his previous career-high total of three, which he recorded twice, also on the road, during his freshman year at UNLV in 2019 (at Fresno State 10/18/19; at Nevada 11/30/19).
• Moten finished with career highs of four catches and 73 yards to go with his 35-yard TD catch, which tied for the longest scoring pass play for DSU this season (Malcolm Ross-Turner at UC Davis; 9/18) ... Moten and Tracy also hooked up for a 31-yard connection early in the second quarter vs. SFA.
• Davis posted career-highs of five receptions and 77 yards in the Tarleton loss (10/16), while his 41-yard catch-and-run was the longest reception of his collegiate career.
• Sophomore WR Rickie Johnson tied a career high with five catches vs. SFA last Saturday for 56 yards ... Johnson also led DSU's receiving corps with five receptions and 92 yards at Montana (10/9), including a highlight reel 47-yard diving grab in the fourth quarter.
• Well it took seven games, but senior WR Deven Osborne finally got into the catch column with two receptions for 34 yards last Saturday vs. SFA, including a big 23-yard grab on 3rd-and-4 that set up the Kannely-Robles TD run.
• Osborne, who has played in only three games this season due to injury, recorded career highs in receptions (30), yards (441) and touchdowns (3) in five games last spring.
• Freshman DB Tyrell Grayson earned WAC Defensive Player of the Week honors on Oct. 11, after he racked up 14 total tackles (eight solo) and forced a fumble at Montana (10/9).
• Grayson's forced fumble came on his first collegiate sack inside the DSU red zone that thwarted a possible Grizzlies scoring drive ... the sack was one of two TFLs the freshman had on the day to go with a pair of PBUs.
• Grayson, who led DSU with eight tackles vs. Tarleton (10/16), tied a DSU single-game record with 19 total tackles (15 solo) in the UC Davis loss (9/25) ... Grayson joined junior LB Malaki Malaki (at New Mexico State, 3/7/21) and former LB Robert Metz (at Central Washington, 11/14/15) atop the single-game list.
• Grayson had himself a night in the season-opener against Sacramento State (9/4) when he collected a then-career high 13 tackles, including 12 solo stops, and registered one TFL.
• Grayson's team-leading 70 total tackles would rank him t-12th nationally at the FCS level, while his team-high 57 solo stops would be good for third-nationally, however Dixie State is not eligible to be ranked statistically during its NCAA D-I transition period.
• Junior LB Bradley Brown has come up big defensively with three TFLs and two sacks over his last two games ... Brown picked up his team co-leading third sack of the year vs. SFA last Saturday, this after he recorded two TFLs, including DSU's lone sack a week earlier vs. Tarleton (10/16).
• Freshman DL Syrus Webster racked up his second collegiate sack and tallied two TFLs vs. SFA last Saturday ... Webster had himself a day at Montana (10/9) as well with a career-high nine tackles and 1.5 TFLs, including his first collegiate sack and forced fumble ... Webster also recovered the fumble on the Grayson strip-sack in the first quarter.
• Junior CB Devin Chandler scored DSU's first defensive touchdown of the season at Montana (10/9) when he returned the Webster forced fumble 38 yards in the fourth quarter to get the Blazers on the scoreboard ... Chandler finished the day with six total tackles and a PBU to go with his TD.
• Chandler's fumble return was the DSU's first in nearly four years, with the last instance coming during the 2017 season when Remington Kelly (46 yards) took one back to the house at home against Adams State (10/28/17).
• Junior corner Colby Williams registered career highs of seven tackles (all solo) and two TFLs vs. Tarleton (10/16).
• Junior DB/LB Kaejin Smith-Bejgrowicz registered his first career sack in the first quarter at SDSU (10/2) ... it was also the first sack the Jackrabbit o-line gave up this season (one of two on the night), and it came on a big 3rd-and-13 stop midway through the stanza.
• Malaki recorded his fourth-career double digit tackle outing with a game-high 17 tackles (eight solo) at Montana (10/9).
• Malaki opened the season 11 stops (1 TFL) in the opener vs. Sacramento State (9/4) ... the junior also led the DSU defense with nine total tackles (6 solo) and a sack at SDSU (10/2), this after he recorded nine tackles (3 TFLs) a week earlier at UC Davis (9/25). 
• Malaki reached double figures in tackles twice last spring, highlighted by his record day at NMSU (3/7), which came on the heels of a 10-tackle effort in DSU's D-I debut win at Tarleton (2/27).
• Freshman LB Will Leota posted his first collegiate double-digit tackle game with 11 stops at Montana (10/9) ... Leota also registered 1.0 TFL and picked off his first collegiate pass in the second quarter ... Leota led the Blazer defense with eight tackles (7 solo) last week vs. SFA. 
• Freshman punter Andrew Day punted six times for 253 (42.2 ypp) vs. SFA, highlighted by a 58-yard boot in the first quarter.
• Freshman PK Connor Brooksby hit on all four of his field goal attempts during the homestand, highlighted by a career-long 43-yard first quarter make to open the scoring vs. Tarleton (10/16), which is tied for the seventh-longest FG make in the program's NCAA era.

TEAM NOTES:
• Bolstered by Kannely-Robles' career night, Dixie State gained a season-high 228 yards on the ground ... however if you take into account seven SFA sacks, the Blazers were left with 167 net yards rushing, which tied DSU's season-high for net yards set a week earlier vs. Tarleton (10/16).
• DSU also outrushed SFA by a 167-134 count, which marked the first time this season that the Blazers outgained an opponent on the ground.
• The 167 yards gained against both SFA and Tarleton eclipsed the previous high of 92 yards set at home against Weber State (9/11).
• DSU wound up with 410 yards of total offense against SFA last Saturday, which was season-high at home and the second-best total to this point of the year.
• Dixie State tallied a season-high 442 yards (90 plays) of total offense in the UC Davis loss on Sept. 18, including a season-best 389 yards passing.
• Dixie State racked up 400-plus yards of offense in two of five games this past spring, including a season-high 483 yards at New Mexico State (3/7). 
• DSU eclipsed the 400-yard plateau offensively nine times in Paul Peterson's first year at the helm in 2019, highlighted by a 677-yard day (#2 all-time at DSU) vs. Black Hills State (10/5/19).
• Dixie State was limited to a season-low six net rush yards at South Dakota State (10/2), thanks in large part to four QB sacks that erased 31 rushing yards.
• The six yards gained rushing (0.25 ypc - #4 all-time low) was fifth-lowest total in DSU's NCAA era, and were the fewest yards since DSU was held to minus-1 yard at home vs. Western Colorado (10/13/18) nearly three years to the day in a game that DSU actually won, 17-10 ... DSU QBs were sacked six times in that game, though the DSU defense racked up seven sacks of its own in the win. 
• DSU was held to just 209 yards (season low) in the season opener against Sacramento State, which broke a string of 15-straight games that the DSU offense had gained 300-plus yards.
• After scoring 10 total points over its first two games, Dixie State put 27 points on the board in the first three quarters at UC Davis (9/18), though the Blazers were held scoreless in that decisive fourth quarter.
• Dixie State (11.6 ppg in 2021) avoided being shutout for the first time in 73 games when the Blazers found the end zone in the waning moments of the SDSU loss (10/2) ... the last time DSU was held scoreless was in a 44-0 home loss to Central Washington (11/16/13) during the 2013 season.
• Dixie State began the Tarleton game (10/16) by doing something it had only done one other time this season - score points on its opening possession ... the Trailblazers took the opening kickoff and methodically marched down the field, covering 46 yards over their first six offensive plays, and cashed in the drive the first of Brooksby's two field goals.
• Last spring Dixie State averaged 31.4 ppg, and scored at a 34.4 ppg clip in Paul Peterson's first year as head coach in 2019.
• Dixie State won the turnover battle by a 4-2 count at Montana (10/9) ... this after a two-game stretch that saw DSU commit 10 of its 16 total turnovers on the year (5 TOs at UC Davis/5 TOs at South Dakota State).
• However the SFA game marked the fourth time this season that the Trailblazer defense failed to force a turnover, though DSU only had one turnover itself, but it was costly one as Tracy was intercepted in the end zone during the third quarter. 
• Despite the loss at then-No. 3 South Dakota State (10/2), Dixie State's defense hung a pair of "firsts" on SDSU - including being the first team hold the Jackrabbits scoreless in the first quarter.
• DSU also became the first team to register a sack against the SDSU offensive line and finished with two sacks and five total TFLs on the night overall.
• Speaking of sacks, the DSU offensive line surrendered a season-low one sack vs. Tarleton (10/16), however SFA got to Tracy seven times for minus-49 yards rushing last Saturday ... DSU has allowed 29 total sacks over its first seven games of the 2021 fall season, this after giving up only five total sacks in five 2021 spring games.
• The Trailblazers only had one accepted penalty charged to them for five yards in the SFA loss last Saturday, which is a season-low for both.
• The last time that happened was in the 2012 season on the road at Central Washington (11/10/12) ... meanwhile the Trailblazers have recorded one rare penalty-less game in the program's NCAA era, which also came against CWU at home during the 2014 campaign (11/8/14). 

YOU'RE IN GOOD HANDS: Allstate and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) announced on Sept. 24, that Dixie State post-graduate student wide receiver Deven Osborne has been named to the 30th-Anniversary 2021 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.
Osborne is among 22 football student-athletes and one honorary coach selected to the 30th-Anniversary team. In all, 109 student-athletes from all divisions across the nation were with stories of exemplary community service, alongside academic dedication and impact on and off the field.
The final 22-member team and honorary coach, were selected by a committee made up of former Allstate AFCA Good Works Team members and journalists.
Osborne is the fifth college football student-athlete from the state of Utah to be selected to the Good Works Team, joining former Utah defensive backs Morgan Scalley (2004) and Eric Weddle (2006), former BYU quarterback Riley Nelson (2010) and former Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keaton (2014). In addition, Osborne is one of two Trailblazer football players to have earned the honor as former DSU transfer running back Jeffrey Coprich (2017) was named to the 2014 Good Works Team while at California.
Fans will have the opportunity to help Osborne become the 2021 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team captain through online voting by visiting ESPN.com/Allstate. Voting is open now through Nov. 22, 2021.

#AB3FOREVER: Junior linebacker Malaki Malaki has been awarded the No. 3 jersey for the 2021 season.
The awarding of the No. 3 jersey is the second instance in what has become an annual tradition honoring the memory of former Dixie State football player Abraham Reinhardt, who passed away unexpectedly on March 22, 2019. DSU Head Football Coach Paul Peterson noted that the No. 3 jersey would be awarded to a student-athlete who best exemplified Reinhardt's leadership, both on and off the field.
"When we lost a great young man in Abraham [in 2019], we wanted to honor him and his legacy the best we possibly could," Coach Peterson said. "Abe was a perfect representative of our team culture which focuses on toughness, hard work, trust and accountability.
"Malaki exemplifies everything that we are trying to build here at Dixie State. He is tough, works tremendously hard, is a great student and leader. Malaki will wear AB3's jersey this season in honor of his legacy."

NEXT UP FOR THE TRAILBLAZERS: Dixie State closes out its 2021 road slate at defending 2020-21 FCS champion and No. 1-ranked Sam Houston next Saturday in Huntsville, Texas. Kick-off is slated for 12 noon (CT).
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Collins getting his chance to prove himself with Blue Hens
October 25, 2021 9:48 pm
By Andy Walter - Delaware State News

NEWARK — His first job was getting past the James Madison defensive back.

But, since the defender was up close to the line of scrimmage, once James Collins got a step on him, there was nobody else back there.

“Once I got his hands off me, I looked up and I saw the ball,” said Collins. “I just kind of knew from there that I was going to catch it and score a touchdown.”

Collins’ 26-yard touchdown reception was a simple play but it was a big moment for the unheralded sophomore receiver from Mount Pleasant High. It was the first TD of his college career.

Unfortunately for Delaware, it was also the Blue Hens’ only touchdown in their 22-10 loss to JMU last Saturday.

Now unranked Delaware (3-4 overall) will try again to snap what has grown to a three-game losing streak when it hosts winless Dixie State (0-7) of Utah on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Collins’ TD was one of the few bright spots for Delaware’s offense, which totaled just 109 yards against JMU. It was only the third catch of the season for the 6-foot, 190-pounder from Wilmington.

“He makes plays in practice every week that get our attention and merit opportunity in the game,” coach Danny Rocco said about Collins. “He had been a little one-dimensional in how we’d been using him. But we knew we had a chance to get him the ball on a stutter.

“It was good to see. He practices hard. He’s got a lot of talent, he’s got a lot of speed. He’s one of those guys that most people don’t know very much about.”

Collins played a lot of different positions at Mount Pleasant, including receiver, wildcat quarterback, cornerback and kick returner. He came to Delaware as a preferred walk-on.

Without really any other Division I offers, and knowing he wanted to stay close to home, it was an easy decision to choose UD.

“I knew that I had the talent to play Division I, so I figured, why not just play at Delaware?” said Collins. “I’ve got all the confidence in the world in myself. And I had friends and coaches who always told me I could play at the Division I level. So I kind of just bet on myself and came here. I’ve just got to prove myself.”

Saturday’s TD catch was a big step forward for Collins. Before that, he mainly only had a few carries on speed sweeps.

Now he’s more of a full-fledged receiver.

“I go to practice and try my hardest,” said Collins. “I put in a lot of work and effort. So going out there and being able to score a touchdown and help contribute points for my team, that’s really exciting for me. It just gives me a big confidence booster. I just know that I can keep scoring points.”

Rocco sticking with Gwynn

It hasn’t exactly been a smooth transition from Nolan Henderson to Zach Gwynn as the Hens’ starting quarterback.

Delaware is 0-3 with Gwynn under center.

But, rather than give some of Delaware’s younger QBs a chance, Rocco said he thinks Gwynn is still the right man for the job right now.

“It’s a conversation that we’ve certainly had,” said Rocco. “The bottom line is that, in this moment, we feel that Zach is the guy who gives us the best chance to go out there and compete.

“Now let’s be honest. The defense we went against here on Saturday was really good. They played extraordinarily well. They made things very difficult for us. We weren’t able to get the run game going, let alone the passing game. It was just a performance that failed on a lot of levels.”

Rocco, though, acknowledged that there might come a day when he puts some of the younger QBs on the field to see what they can do.

He said one of the issues with Gwynn is that sometimes his mistakes overshadow the good things he does.

“I think for every bad picture you have in your mind, there is a good picture that you saw in a game the last three weeks,” said Rocco. “He’s done good things, he’s made good plays.”

For the season, which includes appearances before he was a starter, Gwynn is 39-of-84 (46.4 percent) for 482 yards with four touchdowns and six interceptions.

What’s in a name?

Dixie State clearly has some problems with name recognition, especially considering it is located in Utah.

Apparently, the school is located in an area known as the state’s Dixie Region. The school, which was founded by the LDS Church in 1911, has been known as ‘Dixie’ in some form since 1916.

It has already changed it mascot from the Rebels to the Trailblazers and is in the process of changing the school name to ‘Utah Tech.’

While they’re winless, the Trailblazers have played a very difficult schedule. They’ve already taken on three teams ranked the FCS top 12 with top-ranked Sam Houston State waiting for them next week.

Defense still battling

Delaware’s defense turned in one its better performances of the fall against JMU. And that’s despite the fact that the Hens are now missing veteran linebackers Colby Reeder and Drew Nickles as well as defensive lineman Frank Burton.

Linebacker Liam Trainer said it’s never easy to see your friends get injured.

“I love both those guys,” Trainer said about Reeder and Nickles. “It just hurts more seeing them go through what they have to go through. It’s part of the game. Some things you just can’t control.

“But it’s also something we can’t let distract us defensively. If someone goes down, the next man has to step up. You can’t blink an eye in that situation.”

In the same vein, Trainer said the fact that the Hens didn’t win on Saturday discourage them from trying to play just as hard next week.

“I think defensively we played better than we probably have all season,” he said. “We were definitely flying around to the ball. We were physical. We were having fun and, more importantly, we didn’t quit. We played until the very end.

“Even in the game of life, things aren’t going to play out the way you wish. The only thing you can do is keep fighting. If anything, we’re going to push harder during practice.”

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No. 7 JMU Win At No. 23 Delaware
By GREG MADIA Daily News-Record Oct 23, 2021 

NEWARK, Del. – Cole Johnson’s 36-yard touchdown run in the third quarter provided No. 7 James Madison separation from No. 23 Delaware in the Dukes’ 22-10 Colonial Athletic Association victory on Saturday at Delaware Stadium.

Up until Johnson found the end zone, JMU clung to an advantage captured only on field goals from kicker Ethan Ratke, who set a school record with five in the win.

Ratke’s fourth boot through the uprights, a 47-yarder, gave the Dukes a 12-10 lead earlier in the third.

Throughout the first half, JMU wasted one short field after another including two red-zone trips that resulted in field goals.

But Johnson’s score capitalized on a turnover that set the Dukes up at the Delaware 45. On the Blue Hens’ previous possession, JMU defensive end Abi Nwabuoku-Okonji sacked Delaware quarterback Zach Gwynn, who fumbled, and safety Chris Chukwuneke recovered it.

In total, JMU forced three turnovers. Safety MJ Hampton and cornerback Greg Ross each had an interception. The Dukes held the Blue Hens to 109 total yards.

The Dukes improved to 6-1 overall and 4-1 in the CAA while Delaware dropped to 3-4 (2-3 CAA).
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No. 7 JMU fends off Blue Hens
October 23, 2021
By Andy Walter- Delaware State News

NEWARK — Two quarters into Saturday’s matchup, Delaware had James Madison right where it wanted the Dukes.

Well, at least the stumbling Blue Hens were doing the things required to have a chance against the No. 7 FCS team in the country.

Delaware had limited JMU to three field goals, found a way to score a touchdown itself and owned a one-point halftime advantage.

But the Dukes are too good to let a one-dimensional team beat them.

JMU tallied 13 unanswered second-half points and held the Hens to just 109 yards in the contest to put away a 22-10 CAA victory over No. 23 Delaware before a homecoming crowd of 15,783 on a sometimes-rainy Saturday afternoon.

The third straight loss for the Hens (2-3 CAA, 3-4 overall) knocked them under .500 and means they’d have to win their final four games to even dream about making the NCAA FCS playoffs.

The fact that Delaware’s defense dominated at times — limiting JMU (4-1 CAA, 6-1 overall) to a school-record five field goals and only one touchdown — wasn’t nearly enough to keep the Hens from losing their fifth in a row to the Dukes. And with JMU apparently poised to join the Sun Belt Conference and move up to FBS, this might be how the rivalry ends.

“Going into the locker room at halftime, it was a good feeling,” said Delaware coach Danny Rocco. “I thought our guys were really confident. I think we had a real sense of belief and confidence that we were going to be able to go out there, finish this game and find a way to win.

“I think the defense played well enough for us to win. Offensively, we struggled. We could not run the ball. It made it more difficult for (quarterback) Zach (Gwynn) and our passing game. Statistically, offensively, we were really, really bad today. We’re going to have to take a hard look at what we’re doing and who we’re doing it with moving forward.”

The game’s pivotal moment came late in the third quarter.

Delaware trailed only 12-10 and finally had some good field position, at its own 48. But, on second down, Gwynn fumbled on a sack.

Three plays later, a Blue Hen defender bit on a run fake and Dukes’ QB Cole Johnson sprinted in untouched on a 36-yard bootleg.

The TD stretched JMU’s lead to 19-10 with 1:01 left in the third quarter and Delaware never seriously challenged again.

“I think our whole defense played hard,” said linebacker Johnny Buchanan, who finished with a career-high 13 tackles. “We’ve got to clean some things up for sure but the guys gave great effort.”

“I give Delaware credit, they played physical on defense,” said JMU coach Curt Cignetti. “We had to earn that one.”

Delaware’s three-game slide coincides with the time that starting QB Nolan Henderson was lost for the season with a hernia. The Hens are also now missing linebacker Colby Reeder and center Mickey Henry, among others.

On Saturday, Gwynn completed only 6-of-20 passes for 85 yards with two interceptions and the fumble against the CAA’s top defense.

On the other hand, Gwynn did toss a nice 26-yard scoring pass to sophomore receiver James Collins to put the Hens ahead, 10-6, with 11:03 left before halftime. It was Collins’ first career touchdown.

“We got that one-on-one matchup with James,” said Gwynn. “He’s a fast kid. We had opportunities to do it a lot more — they cut a couple guys loose early in the game. I wasn’t able to deliver the ball to those open guys.

“I thought we were on the right track and fell off a little as the game went on. That starts with me. I’ve got to be better at preparing.”

On its final 10 possessions, Delaware netted just 70 yards with eight punts and two turnovers. The Hens ran for only 24 yards and were just 2-of-13 on third-down conversions.

Rocco said the Dukes’ defense had a lot to do with Delaware’s offensive struggles. The Hens’ coach talked about the toll of playing a spring and fall season back-to-back.

Like Delaware, JMU also reached the FCS semifinals in the spring. Both squads have played 15 games this calendar year.

“It’s taken the steam out of a number of teams that had pretty good spring seasons,” said Rocco. “Now he (Cignetti) is obviously winning a lot of games this year so it hasn’t taken (away) the same steam. It’s difficult. It’s unprecedented.

“That’s the first question he asked me. He said, ‘How many games have you played since whatever date?’ I said, ‘A lot.’ It is real. ... It’s a combination of physical, emotional, mental. There was never a definitive break in the action.”

As for Delaware’s offense, Gwynn said all the Hens can do is go back to practice and try to fix the problems before next Saturday.

“As an offense, the toughest thing to do is look in hindsight,” he said. “We’ll do that tomorrow, we’ll watch all the film. But as soon as that film is over, we’re back to work.

“We’re excited to win some games this year. We need to get things back on the right track.”

Extra points

Safety Kedrick Whitehead (Middletown) had a game-high 15 tackles. ... Ethan Ratke hit the five field goals for JMU, with the kicks ranging from 30 to 47 yards ... Ryan Coe nailed a 51-yard field goal for Delaware. ... Blue Hen cornerback Amonte Strothers had his second interception of the season. ... Gwynn has now thrown six interceptions against four TD passes this fall. ... The Dukes lead the all-time series, 13-12. ... Delaware continues its three-game home stretch by hosting Dixie State on Saturday at 1 p.m.
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JMU Football FIELD NOTES: Cignetti Addressed Potential FBS Jump With Team
By GREG MADIA Daily News-Record Oct 23, 2021

NEWARK, Del. – He opted to discuss the news of the last 48 hours with his James Madison bunch.

On Saturday following the Dukes’ win at Delaware, third-year JMU coach Curt Cignetti said he talked with his players about the school’s potential move from the Colonial Athletic Association to the Sun Belt Conference.

The Sun Belt could be JMU’s new home in a jump from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision.

“Well, I addressed it with the team Thursday after practice,” Cignetti said. “Obviously, it had caught fire on social media, but it really doesn’t affect what we’re here to do for this football game. It has no bearing.”

Cignetti said he didn’t want for his group to get off task.

“It has no bearing for our seniors,” he said, “who we’re playing for. And so, it can’t be a distraction. My comment on it right now would be it’d be premature for me to comment and also inappropriate. And also, I’m focused on doing what I got to do to help these guys have as good of a year as possible.”

*****

- Dukes sixth-year senior center J.T. Timming had to be carted off the field during the third quarter on Saturday.

“We’ll know more later, but it appears it could be a significant injury,” Cignetti said.

Timming is the most veteran of the Dukes’ offensive linemen, who are also without All-American tackle Liam Fornadel. Earlier this season, Fornadel went down with a knee injury, though Cignetti has said Fornadel could return before the end of the campaign.

Stanley Hubbard, a redshirt junior and transfer from UConn, played in place of Timming.

Senior quarterback Cole Johnson said about possibly losing Timming: “It’s really hard for the whole offense, especially me and some of the guys I’ve been super close with since I came in, in 2016. He’s been my roommate throughout almost all of college, so it’s really hard for the offense and he’s a great player, but it’s really hard for him as a person.”

- JMU freshman linebacker Jailin Walker made a tackle on the game’s opening kickoff and had a total of three in a really strong showing on special teams on Saturday.

“He’s got a bright future,” Cignetti said.

Walker also recovered an onside-kick attempt by Delaware in the first quarter after the Blue Hens took a 3-0 lead.

“That was a surprise and they had shown a surprise on tape,” Cignetti said, “but it was a different kind of surprise. Really nice job by him.”

Walker is currently the backup to standout starting linebacker Diamonte Tucker-Dorsey.

- Dukes punter Harry O’Kelly put together a solid performance, averaging 39.3 yards per punt over six punts. O’Kelly pinned Delaware inside its own 20 four times and once pinned Delaware at its own 2.

- The win for the Dukes gave them their fifth straight over Delaware in the series.

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JMU offers big opportunity for sliding Blue Hens

October 19, 2021
By Andy Walter - DELAWARE STATE NEWS

NEWARK — You can look at Delaware’s current football predicament in one of two ways.

Either the Blue Hens’ current problems are about to get a whole lot worse or they can get their season quickly turned around with one really good afternoon.

Not surprisingly, Delaware’s players prefer to see seventh-ranked James Madison’s impending visit to Delaware Stadium as a big opportunity.

The No. 23 Hens (2-2 CAA, 3-3 overall) host the Dukes (3-1 CAA, 5-1 overall) for Homecoming on Saturday at 3 p.m. It’s the first time the two programs have met since the 2018 NCAA FCS playoffs.

“You look at it and say, oh, we have a hard team coming in,” said senior running back Dejoun Lee. “Or you can look at it and say it’s perfect. We have an opportunity to redeem ourselves and show everybody that we’re still the same team, we can still play at a high level.

“That’s the way I look at it. Having JMU after two losses gives us the chance to get right back on track. That’s what we plan to do.”

Delaware has to hope that last Saturday’s 34-17 loss at 1-5 Stony Brook was it hitting rock bottom. The Hens’ second CAA loss in a row certainly felt that bad in some ways.

On the other hand, Delaware did play some solid football for stretches of Saturday’s game. But the mistakes the Hens made — giving up a 99-yard run to start the game before the offense and special teams both gave away touchdowns at the end — were brutal.

It’s not like JMU is going to have any sympathy for Delaware, though.

The Dukes have had their own problems. They only beat New Hampshire, 24-22, before losing to Villanova, 28-27, two weeks ago.

And remember, JMU is probably still annoyed that the Hens were awarded the CAA’s automatic playoff bid in the spring after both teams went unbeaten in league games.

Of course, coach Danny Rocco isn’t giving up on the season, either. In situations like this, he said it’s important not to get so focused on the problems that you lose sight of possible solutions.

“Our motivation right now is that we’ve got plenty of good players — plenty of talented players ... that we should be able to find a way to win a game at home against a really good team,” said Rocco. “We’re going to have to play our best game of the season.”

“We all know what we have to do move forward,” said safety Kedrick Whitehead. “It’s just up to us to do those things. We’ve just got to lock in and move this thing forward one game at a time.”

Asked what would get Delaware’s season jump started, Whitehead’s answer was simple.

“There’s only one thing that’s going to get it turned around — and that’s a win,” he said.

Hens still hurting

Quarterback injuries continue to be an issue for Delaware.

After losing starter Nolan Henderson probably for the season, two of the Blue Hens’ top three QBs were hurt on Saturday.

Current starter Zach Gwynn had to leave the contest late in the game after taking a hard hit to the ribs. Cade Pribula, who replaced Gywnn, then briefly dislocated his non-throwing shoulder.

Rocco said he was optimistic that both quarterbacks will be available on Saturday. But he said Gwynn was listed as not available for workouts on Monday.

“He’ll be very much day to day,” said Rocco. “Hopefully tomorrow he’ll be a little closer to being in a limited capacity. I’ll know more as the week progresses.”

Rocco said Pribula’s shoulder issue was an old injury that was quickly popped back in. He also said that Delaware’s third top QB, Anthony Paoletti, would continue to get more work in practice.

After throwing three interceptions in his first collegiate start two weeks ago. Gwynn didn’t have any against Stony Brook — although he did fumble on a sack late in the game to set up a touchdown by the Seawolves.

Gwynn also threw a pair of scoring passes. For the season, he is 33-for-64 for 397 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions.

The Hens’ biggest issue offensively was not being able to put together a drive in the fourth quarter when it trailed by only three points and Delaware’s defense forced Stony Brook to punt on three straight possessions.

“You’ve got to play 60 minutes, said Rocco. “You’ve got to make plays for four quarters. I think Zach is progressing really well and did some really good things in the game.

“But he’s going to have to make plays in the fourth quarter, on those last drives, to give us an opportunity.”

Rocco pointed out that Delaware continues to shuffle the offensive line in front of Gwynn. He said the Hens are missing linemen on both sides of the ball because of both injuries and COVID protocols.

Lee putting up yards

While Delaware has lost three of its last four games, Lee continues to put up good rushing yards, week-in and week-out.

The 5-foot-7, 185-pounder had a streak of at least 112 yards in three straight contests before running for ‘only’ 91 against Stony Brook.

But Rocco said that Lee’s rushing stats are only a small part of what the co-captain and his positive attitude give the Hens.

“He’s really been an impressive human being since he got here,” said Rocco. “He’s kind of one of those guys where you say it’s a too-good-to-be-true kind of thing. He’s the same guy every day. He’s got all the energy every day.

“Sometimes, when you’ve been doing it as long as I’ve been doing it, you wonder if it’s real. ... Is this genuine? Then, the more you’re around him, the more genuine it is. It’s just who he is. And then he backs it up, not just with production but with effort and performance and commitment.”

Lee is now second in the CAA in rushing at 93.6 yards per game.

Extra points

Marcus Yarns, the former Parkside, Maryland standout, saw his first action at running back for the Hens last Saturday. He ran for 12 yards on four carries. ... Henderson posted that his hernia surgery on Tuesday in Philadelphia was successful. “Road back starts now!,” he wrote. ... Receiver Thyrick Pitts has six of the Hens’ seven touchdown receptions this season. ... Starting center Mickey Henry (back) has played in only two games this fall.
 
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Football Game Preview: James Madison
10/19/21 - BLUEHENS.COM

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW?
Delaware enters the weekend ranked No. 14 in the STATS Perform FCS Top 25 Poll and No. 25 in the AFCA Coaches' FCS Top 25 Poll. The Blue Hens have been ranked as high as No. 5 in both polls.

» Saturday will mark the first meeting between Delaware and James Madison since 2018. The two programs have met 27 times in the series history, with Delaware holding a 14-12 advantage. The Blue Hens are 8-5 against the Dukes in Newark. The last time the two teams met was a 20-6 James Madison victory in the 2018 FCS Playoffs. Dejoun Lee rushed for 27 yards while Bryce De Maille and Gene Coleman II each caught a pass. Kedrick Whitehead had six tackles, including a sack and 2.5 TFL while Frank Burton III also had a sack and 2.0 TFL.

» In last week's contest at Stony Brook, Thyrick Pitts recorded his second 100-yard receiving game of the season - and fourth of his career - with 115 receiving yards on seven catches. He also had his first multi-touchdown performance with two scores against the Seawolves. For the season, Pitts is tied for the CAA lead with six touchdown receptions.

» Dejoun Lee ranks second in the CAA with 138.3 all-purpose yards per game this season. For his career, Lee has totaled 3,909 all-purpose yards and is just 91 yards short of becoming just the ninth player in Delaware history to reach the 4,000-yard mark. Lee also sits at 2,195 career rushing yards and needs 220 yards to break into the top 10 in program history.

» James Madison enters Saturday's contest with a 5-1 overall record and a 3-1 mark in CAA play. The Dukes are ranked No. 7 in the STATS Perform FCS Top 25 Poll and No. 6 in the AFCA Coaches' FCS Top 25 Poll. 

» The JMU offense leads the conference in both scoring (38.2 ppg) and total offense (448.8 ypg), while the defense is atop the conference is points allowed (15.5 ppg) and yards allowed (240.8 ypg).
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Blue Hens continue to deal with QB injuries
October 18, 2021
By Andy Walter - DELAWARE STATE NEWS

NEWARK — Quarterback injuries continue to be an issue for the Delaware football team.

After losing starter Nolan Henderson probably for the season, two of the Blue Hens’ top three QBs were hurt in Delaware’s 34-17 loss at Stony Brook on Saturday.

Current starter Zach Gwynn had to leave the contest late in the game after taking a hard hit to the ribs. Cade Pribula, who replaced Gywnn, then briefly dislocated his non-throwing shoulder.

Coach Danny Rocco said this morning he was optimistic that both quarterbacks will be available when the No. 23 Hens host seventh-ranked James Madison on Saturday at 3 p.m. But he said Gwynn was listed as not available for workouts on Monday.

“He’ll be very much day to day,” said Rocco. “Hopefully tomorrow he’ll be a little closer to being in a limited capacity. I’ll know more as the week progresses.”

Rocco said Pribula’s shoulder issue was an old injury that was quickly popped back in. He also said that Delaware’s third top QB, Anthony Paoletti, would continue to get more work in practice.

After throwing three interceptions in his first collegiate start two weeks ago. Gwynn didn’t have any against Stony Brook — although he did fumble on a sack late in the game to set up a touchdown by the Seawolves.

Gwynn also threw a pair of scoring passes. For the season, he is 33-for-64 for 397 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions.

The Hens’ biggest issue offensively was not being able to put together a drive in the fourth quarter when it trailed by only three points and Delaware’s defense forced Stony Brook to punt on three straight possessions.

“You’ve got to play 60 minutes, said Rocco. “You’ve got to make plays for four quarters. I think Zach is progressing really well and did some really good things in the game.

“But he’s going to have to make plays in the fourth quarter, on those last drives, to give us an opportunity.”

Rocco pointed out that Delaware continues to shuffle the offensive line in front of Gwynn. He said the Hens are missing linemen on both sides of the ball because of both injuries at COVID protocols.

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Hens get humbled by Seawolves
October 16, 2021
By Andy Walter - Delaware State News

STONY BROOK, N.Y. — The irony is that if Tyler Pastula’s punt hadn’t been so good, things might have worked out better for Delaware.

Instead, though, the Blue Hen punter pinned Stony Brook down at its one yard line on his first kick of the day.

That made Delaware’s defense feel like it should be aggressive — and maybe even get a big play right off the bat.

But what the Hens got instead was the Seawolves’ Ty Son Lawton running straight up the middle and not stopping until he reached the opposite end zone 99 yards later.

The back-breaking play put No. 14 Delaware in a hole it never climbed out of as the Hens eventually fell to struggling Stony Brook, 34-17, in a CAA football game at LaVelle Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The second-straight conference loss for Delaware (2-2 CAA, 3-3 overall) dims its NCAA FCS playoff chances even more and was another reminder that the Hens’ spring success hasn’t translated to the fall season.

“I expected us to play better today,” coach Danny Rocco said as he sat outside the Delaware locker room. “It was obviously a football game for the vast majority of the day out here.

“But I told the team here in the locker room, you give up a 99-yard run to start the game and you finish the game with a strip sack for basically a touchdown and (then) a muffed punt, you’re not a very good football team. That’s the bottom line right now — we’re not a very good football team. If we were, we’d be playing better.”

As for Lawton’s 99-yard TD run — which of course matched the longest ever against the Hens — Rocco said he thinks the Hens saw a chance for a quick big play and got too aggressive.

“Hindsight is a beautiful thing,” he said. “But we didn’t need to be as aggressive with our front right there. If the ball would have come down on the four instead of the one, we would have been in a totally different defense and that play would have died with about a five-yard gain.

“We got a little bit greedy in maybe wanting to get them in the end zone, maybe trying to get a safety to start the game.”
Lawton, who finished with 192 yards and two TDs on 22 carries, seemed to take particular pleasure in beating the Hens. who dumped the Seawolves (1-3 CAA, 2-5 overall) by a 31-3 margin in the spring.

“Coach ‘P’ and all the coaches really dislike Delaware,” said Lawton, presumably referring to Stony Brook head coach Chuck Priore. “So it was a statement game.”

With all that in mind, it actually looked like Delaware might pull out a victory for a big part of the second half.

There were 13 seconds left in the third quarter when the Hens closed within 20-17 when quarterback Zach Gwynn hooked up with receiver Thyrick Pitts on a 28-yard touchdown pass. It was the second scoring pass that Gwynn (15-for-29, 199 yards) threw to Pitts (7 catches-115 yards) in the game.

Delaware’s defense then forced Stony Brook to punt on its next three possessions. But the Hens never put together another scoring drive.

Finally, with Delaware backed up on its own 20, Gwynn was sacked and fumbled, setting up the Seawolves at the one. QB Tyquell Fields scored from there, as Stony Brook’s lead grew to 27-17 with 6:21 left.

The final miscue came when punt returner Jourdan Townsend misplayed a punt, muffing it into the end zone where the Seawolves recovered it for yet another TD with 1:43 on the clock.

“It’s really tough,” said Pitts. “That’s two weeks in a row we lose because of critical errors at the end of the game. All we can do is keep fighting and get ready for next week.

“In this conference, it’s so competitive and there’s so many good teams, you just can’t have those type of errors and expect to win a game. We’ve got a lot of soul-searching to do as a team.”

“It comes down to being to execute when your number is called,” said linebacker Johnny Buchanan. “Those critical mistakes will lose you a game as we’ve seen the last two weeks.”

Perhaps the icing on the cake was that Gwynn had to leave the game late in the contest after taking a hard hit on a running play. Sophomore Cade Pribula ended up taking a few snaps late in the game.

And up next is CAA giant James Madison, which Delaware hosts for Homecoming next Saturday.

Right now, the Hens’ national semifinal run in the spring seems like a lifetime ago.

“To say we’re a little out of sync would be an understatement, but that’s kind of what it is,” said Rocco. “We’re just not playing with that same sense of execution. We were a team last year that never shot ourselves in the foot.

“Tonight, three or four plays were just catastrophic, all randomly different. There’s no theme to it. They’re just bad-looking plays and you’re going to have a hard time winning games if you do any one of those three things.”

Extra points

Delaware converted on just 4-of-15 third-down situations. ...Senior Dejoun Lee finished with 91 yards on 15 carries, including a 43-yard gain. ... Linebacker Colby Reeder finished with a team-high 10 tackles, including a sack. Chase McGowan added two sacks while safety Noah Plack made nine tackles. ... Running quarterback Anthony Paoletti, who had hardly thrown a pass in his career, got to throw a deep ball on Saturday. But it fell incomplete.
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Delaware Falls at Stony Brook
bluehens.com - 10-16-21

STONY BROOK, N.Y. – Despite 115 receiving yards and two touchdowns from Thyrick Pitts, the Delaware football team dropped a 34-17 decision to Stony Brook University on Saturday afternoon in a CAA matchup at the Seawolves' LaValle Stadium. With the loss, the Blue Hens slip to 3-3 on the season and 2-2 in conference play.

Following a Tyler Pastula punt that pinned Stony Brook (2-5, 1-3 CAA) on its own 1-yard line, the Seawolves ran their first play from scrimmage that resulted in a 99-yard touchdown run to put the Blue Hens in an early 7-0 hole.

The score remained the same until early in the second quarter, when a one-yard plunge moved Stony Brook's lead to 13-0.

Dejoun Lee got the offense sparked on Delaware's next play from scrimmage, rushing for 28 yards to get the ball to midfield. Three plays later, Zach Gwynn found Pitts deep down the left sideline for a 33-yard touchdown pass to get the Blue Hens on the board.

Later in the second quarter, Lee against kickstarted a drive with a 43-yard rush deep into Stony Brook territory. Ryan Coe cut the deficit to 13-10 with a 33-yard field goal right before halftime.

Stony Brook connected on a 26-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter to go up 20-10, but the Blue Hens again had an answer. An 11-play drive resulted in another touchdown pass from Gwynn to Pitts, this time going to 28 yards to make it a 20-17 game with just 13 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

The Blue Hens got possession back late in the fourth quarter, but a strip sack led to a short touchdown run. Later on a muffed punt was recovered in the end zone to provide the final score.

Gwynn finished 15-of-29 passing for 199 yards and the two touchdowns. Pitts recorded his second 100-yard receiving game of the season with 115 yards on seven catches. Lee led the rushing attack with 91 yards.

Colby Reeder led the Delaware defense with a career-high 12 tackles, including a sack and 1.5 TFL. Noah Plack finished with nine tackles, while Andrew Pawlowski and Johnny Buchanan each had nine. Chase McGowan added a pair of sacks.

Delaware will return home next Saturday, October 23 when the Blue Hens host James Madison for a Homecoming matchup. The contest is set to kick off at 3 p.m. and will open a three-game homestand for the Blue Hens. Fans can purchase tickets for that game and all remaining home games HERE.

For the latest on the Delaware football program, follow the Blue Hens on Twitter @DelawareFB and Instagram @DelawareFootball, and like "Delaware Football" on Facebook.
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Blue Hens believe in Gwynn as their starting QB
October 12, 2021 
By Andy Walter - Delaware State News

NEWARK — To the outside world, Zach Gwynn is a brand-new starting quarterback.

But, remember, Delaware’s football players have seen him make countless throws in practice.

“I remember him specifically one time him rolling to the right and making a throw downfield,” said senior receiver Gene Coleman. “I’m just like, ‘Man, it was a really good throw.’ He’s capable of that. He’s talented.”

The Blue Hens say their confidence in Gwynn wasn’t shaken by his debut as a starter in Delaware’s 22-15 loss at Rhode Island last Saturday.

Gwynn threw three interceptions as the Hens had their six-game CAA winning streak snapped. With Nolan Henderson now sidelined — probably for the season — and undergoing hernia surgery on Tuesday, Gwynn is now Delaware’s starting QB.

No. 14 Delaware (2-1 CAA, 3-2 overall), which plays at Stony Brook (0-3 CAA, 1-5 overall) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m., is optimistic that the Salesianum School grad will play better once he gets settled in.

“Once he calms down and gets into the flow of the game, he’s really a ‘gamer’ type of player,” said Coleman. “Even before Nolan was injured, there were times over the summer when we were doing competitive periods ... he’s talented. We just trust him.

“The thing with this team, everybody is so close. I’m close with Zach just the way I am with Nolan. So for me, it’s not just the backup quarterback stepping in, it’s my friend stepping in. So to be able to trust him and really believe in him isn’t really something that’s difficult for me or I think anybody on the team.”

Against Rhode Island, Gwynn completed 9-of-17 passes for 117 yards with a touchdown and the three interceptions. In the second half alone, however, he was 7-for-10 for 109 yards and a touchdown.

Gwynn’s only second-half interception came in the end zone with the Hens at the Rams’ 12 yard line with 23 seconds left. On the previous play, Gwynn completed a 20-yard pass to Coleman on a fourth-and-10.

“I do feel like as the game progressed, it slowed down for him,” said coach Danny Rocco. “I feel like he saw things cleaner, better and processed things better. I think the big thing is just not feeling like you’ve got to put the whole game on your shoulders.

“Just take what you’re given and give our other players — our running backs, our receivers — (the chance) to do things with the ball in their hands. He can make all the throws. I think that’s the one thing you can hang your hat on with Zach.”

Rocco pointed out Gwynn’s 42-yard touchdown pass to Thyrick Pitts as a good example of the QB’s ability.

Gwynn was patient enough to wait until Pitts made a double move to get behind the defense. He also stood in the pocket and took a hit after releasing the ball.

“That’s a throw that a bunch of guys can’t make because they don’t have the arm strength or the size to sit in the pocket like that,” said Rocco.

“He’ll have to have a good week of preparation,” the coach added. “Then, knowing that this is his second week of really being ‘the guy’ in practice, I think will also help boost his confidence.”

Coleman pointed out that the touchdown pass came in the same formation that Gwynn threw an interception out of in the first half.

“Quarterback is a hard position to play whether you’ve played it 100 times or this is your first college start,” said Coleman.

Upon further review

• Rocco said URI’s game-winning punt block came because punter Tyler Pastula kicked the ball when he was too close to the three linemen blocking for him.

He’s supposed to kick the ball from 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage but hit the ball nine yards back on the crucial play. That allowed the Rams’ 6-foot-3, 255-pound Andre Bibeault to reach over the blockers and get his hand on the ball.

URI’s L.B. Mack returned the loose ball 28 yards to give the Rams their 22-15 advantage with only 3:46 left.

“It’s really extraordinary that his hand was placed exactly where the ball came out and blocked in a fashion where it actually went backwards,” said Rocco. “It’s disappointing but the probabilities are extraordinarily low of that happening in that way.”

• Another close play that didn’t go the Hens’ way came earlier in the second half.

On a short pass completion near the Rams’ sideline, safety Kedrick Whitehead knocked the ball out of a URI back’s hands and recovered the ball out of the air. But the official ruled that Whitehead’s foot was touching out of bounds and replays were inconclusive.

The Rams kept possession and ended up driving for the tying field goal. Already leading 15-12, Delaware would have had the ball in URI territory.

Either way, it was a play decided by no more than an inch or two. Cornerback Justus Henley was also involved in making the tackle on the play.

“He (Whitehead) was clearly inbounds,” said Henley. “It definitely would have put us in a better situation to win the game. It’s unfortunate that the call didn’t go our way.”

Block party

On the other hand, the Hens got a big block of their own when Henley stuffed a URI 33-yard field-goal attempt at the end of the third quarter.

The block led to Quincy Watson’s go-ahead eight-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Henley said it’s something Delaware game plans to try to accomplish every game.

“That’s something that we work on almost every day in practice,” he said. “I’ve actually had a couple blocked kicks in practice so it’s something that I take seriously. It’s a play that I want to make each week for the team.”

Extra points

Delaware dropped five spots to No. 14 in Monday’s STATS FCS poll. ... Defensive coordinator Manny Rojas wasn’t able to be at the URI game due to COVID protocols but was able to hold virtual meetings with his players during the week. Linebackers coach Rich Yahner called the defense during the game. ... Sophomore Cade Pribula becomes the No. 2 QB behind Gwynn with Anthony Paoletti still seeing time as the wildcat quarterback. ... Linebacker Drew Nickles is questionable for the Stony Brook game with a strained leg muscle.
 
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Blue Hens' Henderson unlikely to return this season after surgery
October 11, 2021
By Andy Walter - Delaware State News

NEWARK — Delaware quarterback Nolan Henderson will undergo surgery on Tuesday for a hernia that has bothered him most of the season.

But Blue Hen coach Danny Rocco stopped short of saying the injury is definitely a season-ending one for the Smyrna High grad.

Rocco said this morning that the estimated recovery time is roughly four to six weeks. Delaware (3-2) has six games remaining on its regular-season schedule.

“Having already had the surgery a year ago, the thought would be that in six weeks or so he’s probably going to be looking and feeling pretty good,” Rocco said on his CAA conference call this morning. “So I think a return in this cycle (season) is unlikely but I do feel really good about the prognosis of him being able to come back and be fully healthy and to perform at a really high level.

“Obviously I’m not saying he’s out for the season but I’m just offering the information I have.”

Rocco said the good news is that the injury shouldn’t be a career-ending one for Henderson, who was named first team on the CAA Preseason all-conference team this summer.

“When it’s all said and done, he’ll probably be chomping at the bit here before too long to be given an opportunity to try to get back,” said Rocco.

Rocco said Henderson is having surgery for two separate muscle tears in his abdomen. After missing playing time in several games this fall, he didn’t suit up for the Hens’ 22-15 loss at Rhode Island last Saturday.

Henderson seems determined to overcome this injury, as he has with others in his career.

“Dear Adversity, Thank you for the opportunity,” he posted on Twitter on Sunday.

“For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again,” Henderson also quoted.

Rocco, whose team plays at Stony Brook on Saturday, said it’s always difficult to watch a player deal with a serious injury.

“It’s probably one of the more difficult things about the game,” he said. “Our student-athletes put so much into their preparation. They really do pour their lives into the game — and Nolan at the highest level.

“He’s got some really unique skills as an athlete and as a quarterback. But some of the most impressive things about Nolan are the things that he does in the building and in the practice sessions and around his teammates. He’s just an extraordinary leader and of high character.”

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Without Henderson, Hens lose heartbreaker to URI
10-9-21 - Delaware State News
By Andy Walter

KINGSTON, R.I. — Danny Rocco likes to say his Delaware football team usually makes itself difficult to beat.

On Saturday afternoon, though, the Blue Hens made it a little too easy.

Ninth-ranked Delaware committed a handful of critical mistakes and No. 18 Rhode Island turned them into a crushing 22-15 loss for the Hens in a CAA football showdown at Meade Stadium.

With the score tied 15-15, the unbeaten Rams (3-0 CAA, 5-0 overall) blocked a Delaware punt and linebacker L.B. Mack returned it 28 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with just 3:46 remaining.

The Hens (2-1 CAA, 3-2 overall) answered with a gutty 13-play drive. They picked up a first down at the URI 12 when receiver Gene Coleman made a leaping 20-yard catch along the sideline on a fourth-and-10.

But on the next play, the Rams’ Jordan Jones intercepted a Zach Gwynn pass in the back of the end zone with just 23 seconds remaining. Jones out-muscled Delaware receiver Brett Buckman for his second interception to seal the Hens’ fate.

It was the third interception thrown by Gwynn (9-of-17 for 117 yards), who was making his first career start at quarterback.

Delaware starting QB Nolan Henderson, who was on the sidelines in street clothes, is now expected to have season-ending hip surgery. The Smyrna High grad has been battling the injury for the past few weeks.

“We were a little out of sorts today,” said Delaware coach Danny Rocco. “Things that were happening for us weren’t really happening for us today. We were playing uphill a little bit. We were not complementing each other — offense, defense and special teams — and we were making the job harder than it needed to be.

“Our ability to rally there and go ahead and get a lead in the game was impressive. But we just weren’t able to finish. To that, I certainly give them (URI) credit.”

After falling behind 12-0 at halftime as the offense struggled, the Hens did a lot of good things in the second half.

Delaware out-gained URI, 246-143, over the last two quarters and had 14 first downs to the Rams’ seven.

Gwynn seemed to find his footing, too. He tossed a nice 42-yard scoring pass to Thyrick Pitts to get the Hens on track before Quincy Watson’s tough eight-yard touchdown run gave Delaware its first lead with 10:37 remaining.

When Dejoun Lee (19 carries-115 yards), who had his third straight 100-yard rushing game, added the two-point conversion, the Hens were up 15-12.

But, following a tying field goal by the Rams, the blocked punt was a back-breaker. It was the second blocked punt Delaware has surrendered for a TD this season.

On this one, URI 6-foot-3, 255-pound lineman Andre Bibeault seemed to be the only rusher on the play. He simply charged up the middle, pushed his way between two of the Hens’ three standing punt protectors and got his hands up.

The ball ricocheted back upfield where it was an easy TD for Mack once he picked it up.

“This was categorically different than anything else that had happened in terms of the things that we had corrected,” Rocco said about the block. “Their kid did a really god job getting penetration and knocking us back.”

Delaware’s special teams had an up-and-down day. Kicker Ryan Coe missed his first field goal attempt of the season after making his first eight but the Hens’ Justis Henley blocked a URI field goal try in the second half.

Defensively, Delaware got a first-half interception from Amonte Strothers plus eight tackles from both linebacker Colby Reeder and safety Noah Plack. But the Hens also allowed URI to convert on 9-of-17 third-down chances.

The biggest question now for Delaware is moving ahead without Henderson.

Wildcat QB Anthony Paoletti was effective again on Saturday, running for 39 yards on 12 carries. Before Gwynn’s three interceptions, however, Delaware had turned over the ball only once all season.

Rocco would like to think Saturday’s performance was a starting point for Gwynn in his first extensive college playing time.
“I think with the change — with Nolan’s absence and departure here — I think our team will continue to get better offensively as we start to really hone in on this offense without Nolan and with Zach and Anthony doing the things that they can do best,” said Rocco.

“There was a moment in there when he (Gwynn) just wasn’t trusting his instincts. The play design and the coverage dictate where the ball should go. He knows that, he sees that and he certainly has done it well in practice. He got a little hesitant and when you do, things start to happen fast out there.

“In the second half he made a couple throws and got a little confidence. I see light at the end of the tunnel here. We’re going to need to obviously be more efficient throwing the football.”

Extra points

Lee became the 17th player in UD history with 2,000 career rushing yards. He also has 3,772 yards for his career, putting him in the top 10 on UD’s all-time list. ... Pitts had five catches for 61 yards. ... The Rams’ Justice Antrum ran for 122 yards on 30 carries. ... URI quarterback Kasim Hill was 13-of-22 passing for 155 yards and also ran 15 times for 53 yards and a short TD. ... Delaware is on the road again next Saturday with a 3:30 p.m. game at Stony Brook.
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9-Delaware (3-1) at 18-Rhode Island (4-0)
October 9, 2021 11:48 am
By Andy Walter Delaware State News
 
WHEN: Today, 1 p.m.
WHERE: Meade Stadium (6,555), Kingston, R.I.
RADIO: 94.7-FM, WDSD (Scott Klatzkin, Bill Harman).
COACHES: Delaware — Danny Rocco (29-18, 5th season at UD; 119-60, 15th season overall); URI — Jim Fleming (21-55, 8th season at URI; 42-55, 10th season overall).
NATIONAL RANKING: Delaware is ranked No. 9, URI is No. 18 in Stats FCS poll.
CAA: Delaware — 2-0; URI — 2-0.
LAST WEEK: Delaware beat Albany, 20-15; URI beat Stony Brook, 27-20, in OT.
SERIES: Delaware leads, 22-9.
LAST MEETING: Delaware won, 35-21, on March 27.

KEYS TO THE GAME: This is a game UD fans expect the Hens to win every time. After all, the Blue Hens were 10-0 vs. the Rams between 1989-2000. But there’s no reason to think today’s contest will be easy. A win over Delaware would go a long way toward boosting URI’s improving FCS credentials. The Rams are also trying to start a season 5-0 for just the fourth time in school history. ... 
 
After playing three quarterbacks last week and having two of them get injured, Delaware’s QB situation will probably be up in the air again today. Running specialist Anthony Paoletti will get his share of snaps but what the Hens can get out of either Nolan Henderson or Zach Gwynn is the question. Delaware did run for 361 yards against the Rams in the spring but Henderson also threw for 190. Having a balanced offense always helps. ... URI used two QBs in the spring meeting but Kasim Hill has become a real dual threat for the Rams this fall. A former starter at Maryland, he’s twice been named the CAA Offensive Player of the Week. Hill is throwing for 235.5 ypg and running for 47.0 while accounting for 9 TDs. Delaware’s defense will have to try to contain him.

NOTES: This is the third straight time that the two teams have played at Meade Stadium. ... Today’s game is one of five FCS matchups between two Top-25 teams. ... After rushing for a career-high 221 yards vs. URI in the spring, Dejoun Lee goes into this game with back-to-back 100-yard efforts. ... Rocco is 5-2 all-time vs. URI. ... Linebacker Colby Reeder has a team-leading 24 tackles for the Hens. ... Delaware is on the road again next Saturday with a 3:30 p.m. CAA game at Stony Brook.
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Top 25 Matchup Saturday As No. 18/20 Rams Host No. 10/9 Delaware
10/5/21 - gorhody.com

THE BASICS
No. 10/9 Delaware (3-1, 2-0 CAA Football) at No. 18/20 Rhode Island (4-0, 2-0 CAA Football)
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 9, 1:05 p.m. EST

RHODE ISLAND VS. DELAWARE - SERIES NOTES

Saturday will be the 35th meeting all time between Rhode Island and Delaware, with the Blue Hens holding 34-10 advantage. While Delaware has the edge overall, the teams have split the last four meetings.

Last year, the Blue Hens defeated Rhode Island 35-21 in what turned out to be URI's final game of the spring before the team's season was shut down by COVID-19.

Running back Dejoun Lee had 221 yards and two touchdowns on the ground in the last meeting.
Both teams enter the game 2-0 in CAA Football play.

When No. 9/10 Delaware visiting Meade Stadium, Rhode Island finds itself in one of the biggest games in the country this week.

Rhody-Delaware is one of five games between top 25 programs around the country next weekend.
The others are No. 3/2 James Madison vs. No. 11/9 Villanova; No. 2/3 South Dakota State vs. No. 8 Southern Illinois; No. 5/5 North Dakota State vs. No. 16/12 Northern Iowa; and No. 24/22 Jacksonville State vs. No. 23/RV Stephen F. Austin.

POINTS OFF TURNOVERS A MAJOR ADVANTAGE FOR RHODE ISLAND

Through four games this season, Rhode Island has outscored opponents 38-0 in points off turnovers.

The Rams have at least three points off turnovers in every game this season, including a season-high 24 at Brown.

At UAlbany was the only game this season URI did not have any points off turnovers.
The Rams are +4 in turnover margin, and the +1.0 per game average ranks 19th in the country.
Rhode Island has yet to give up a fumble this season, and as a team URI has thrown just two interceptions.

Neither one of the picks resulted in points for the opposition. Rhode Island and this week's opponent, Delaware, are two of just 14 teams in the nation that have yet to lose a fumble in 2021.
The two lost turnovers for URI is tied for seventh best in the country.

Defensively, Rhode Island has four interceptions and two fumble recoveries.

JONES PICKING OFF THE COMPETITION

Redshirt junior cornerback Jordan Jones ranks fifth in the country with 0.8 interceptions per game.
He has three interceptions through the first four games of the year, including one last week against Stony Brook. It was his second straight game with a pick. At Brown on Sept. 18 he had a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown. Over his last seven games with Rhode Island, Jones has three interceptions and an additional five pass breakups. Jones was a Junior College All-American for Nassau Community College in 2017.

RAMS TAKE AIM AT 5-0 START

Rhody is looking to start 5-0 for just the fourth time in program history.
URI opened the season with five wins in a row in 2001 (program-record 7-0 start), 1957 and 1898.
Overall, the Rams have eight five-game winning streaks in program history.
Rhode Island won seven straight in 2001 and 1985.
There were six-game win streaks in 1984, 1952 and from 1898-99.
The program had five-game win streaks in 1957, 1955 and a run that began in 1933 and ended in 1934.
The current stretch marks the 23rd time overall Rhode Island has won four or more games in program history. Dating back to last spring, Rhode Island has won six of its last seven contests.
 
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Football Game Preview: Rhode Island
10/5/2021 - bluehens.com

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW?
...............................................................
» Delaware enters the weekend ranked No. 9 in the STATS Perform FCS Top 25 Poll and No. 10 in the AFCA Coaches' FCS Top 25 Poll. The Blue Hens have been ranked as high as No. 5 in both polls.

» Saturday will mark the third-straight season that Delaware has made the trip to play Rhode Island on the road. In 2019, the Blue Hens defeated the Rams 44-36 in an epic three-overtime battle. Pat Kehoe passed for 282 yards and five touchdowns, while Andre Robinson rushed for 111 yards and a score. This past spring, Delaware came away with a 35-21 victory behind 221 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Dejoun Lee.

» Saturday marks Delaware's third CAA conference game of the season. The Blue Hens have won six-straight games in conference play including last week's win over UAlbany and a season-opening victory at Maine.

» Dejoun Lee has surpassed 100 yards rushing in two-consecutive games, going for 127 yards at Rutgers and 112 against UAlbany. He now has five career games of at least 100 yards on the ground. For his career, Lee sits at 1,989 rushing yards and is just 11 yards away from becoming the 17th Blue Hen all-time to eclipse 2,000 rushing yards in his career.

» Rhode Island is off to its first 4-0 start in 20 years, and sits at 2-0 in CAA play after a 27-20 overtime victory over visiting Stony Brook last weekend. The Rams are ranked No. 18 in the Stats Perform FCS Top 25 Poll, and are No. 20 in the AFCA FCS Poll.

» Saturday will be the 32nd all-time meeting between the two programs, with the Bue Hens holding a 22-9 series lead. Delaware has one of each of the last two matchups, and five of the past seven. The Blue Hens are 10-5 in Kingston.
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Hens glad that lineman Brown changed his mind

October 4, 2021
By Andy Walter - Delaware State News

NEWARK — Delaware’s football coaches had given up on landing Stevon Brown.

It wasn’t that they didn’t want to recruit the big lineman from Glen Burnie, Maryland. Indeed, he had been at the top of their recruiting board a couple years ago.

But when Brown verbally committed to NCAA Division I FBS East Carolina, UD’s coaches figured that was that.

“He kind of disappeared,” said Blue Hens coach Danny Rocco. “When he showed back up, we were kind of excited to jump back down there and get it on him.

“I really felt like he is, and was, and still is my kind of guy, so to speak. He’s got his priorities in line.”

As the story goes, of course, Delaware did end up with Brown. When East Carolina hired a new head, Brown decided he wanted to go to school closer to his mom, who lives by herself.

Now, after a couple years of apprenticeship, Brown is starting to contribute for ninth-ranked Delaware (2-0 CAA, 3-1 overall), which plays a big CAA game at No. 18 Rhode Island (2-0 CAA, 4-0 overall) on Saturday at 1 p.m.

After starting all eight games in the spring, Brown is back at left guard after being sidelined with a minor knee injury in pre-season.

The 6-foot-5, 300-pounder didn’t get on the field at all in 2018 and ‘19. He said, however, he was happy to wait his turn and learn from the veteran offensive linemen.

“I would literally take everything that they taught me, and just use it,” said Brown. “I was just getting better and better. I feel like that was the biggest part — just having a good relationship with the older guys. When they left, I would be prepared.”

“He’s a really, really neat person,” said Rocco. “He’s got all the talent in the world. I feel really good about him in our program and as an ambassador for our program.”

Brown was a good enough athlete that he played basketball in high school. Despite his size now, that athleticism still comes in handy.

“Basketball is a sport that you have to be light on your feet,” said Brown. “Me playing that sport helped with my conditioning and my agility. Then, when it came to football season, I just felt like those two sports came together for me.”

The Hens ran for a season-high 208 rushing yards in Saturday’s 20-15 win over Albany. That was Delaware’s most yards on the ground since putting up 361 in a 35-21 win at URI in the spring.

At the same time, Delaware has also given up 12 QB sacks this fall.

“I just feel like it’s more us having to get better at everything at this point,” said Brown. “I feel like we all have to improve and we all know that.”

QBs on the mend

Rocco said he doesn’t believe that either of his top two quarterbacks, Nolan Henderson and Zach Gwynn, suffered long-term injuries in the Albany game.

That being said, though, both QBs came away from the contest with their share of bumps and bruises.

Henderson started but left the game early in the second quarter after taking a hard hit on a sack. He did return in the fourth quarter.

Zach Gwynn, who replaced Henderson, was dealing with a rib injury and seemed to be limping on the sidelines. He was kept out of practice on Sunday.

“The most difficult thing to manage is just the imaging and the responses from the doctors and the trainers as to what’s the best way to move forward,” said Rocco. “I do know that on Sunday, he (Henderson) didn’t look real good or feel real good.

“I think there are some more broader options and discussions that are going on as we continue to manage Nolan’s injury.”

Beyond Henderson, Delaware has a few different quarterback options. Gwynn and wildcat QB Anthony Paoletti both saw action on Saturday while even sophomore Cade Pribula started warming up on the sidelines.

“As we sit here today. ... we’re going to want to make sure Zach gets a lot of good work, make sure Cade gets some good work and make sure Anthony has a good volume of options and plays,” said Rocco.

Spruill out

On the other hand, the injury news wasn’t as good for running back Khoury Spruill, who injured a foot/ankle against Albany. He’s expected to miss some time with the injury.

Spruill is second on the team with 130 yards on 33 carries. Just as importantly, he’s considered the best pass blocker among Delaware’s running backs.

Quincy Watson is among those who should get more playing time with Spruill sidelined. Watson has 70 yards on 13 carries.

Penn State transfer Joey Bruno and Marcus Yarns are also in the picture at running back.

Just for kicks

Ryan Coe has given the Hens something every football team wants — a reliable placekicker.

Coe has hit two field goals in each of Delaware’s first four games, going 8-for-8 on the season so far. After also getting four touchbacks on five kickoffs on Saturday, he was named the CAA Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday.

“That’s a weapon that is very real,” said Rocco. “I think we minimize it a little bit. When you look at the kicking game, I think sometimes we fail to understand that it’s those moments that really do create momentum.

“You never use the word ‘automatic.’ It’s silly to say that. But he’s consistent. And he’s creating options that are allowing you to make good decisions. That’s what you want to have.”

Big-play problem

With Albany hitting a 75-yard touchdown pass in the final four minutes on Saturday, Delaware has given up a scoring play of at least 59 yards in each of its four games this year.

Rocco said, on Saturday, the Blue Hen defender on the play just bit on a double move by the Great Dane receiver.

“We actually sent them out there with the instructions of, ‘Don’t bite on the double move,’” said Rocco. “I think the takeaway is, instead of saying that, say, ‘Get deep and stay square.’ That probably would have been a better way to get the result we would have wanted.”

Senior cornerback Nijuel Hill said Albany’s long TD pass came on the same play that South Dakota State used for a touchdown in the NCAA FCS semifinals last spring. The player who missed the coverage, though, wasn’t on the field at South Dakota State.

“It’s always a learning experience,” said Hill. “I know he’ll be there to make that play next time. One thing I love about our defense is that we’re a brotherhood. Our defensive coordinator, Coach (Manny) Rojas has complete faith in us.

“He doesn’t really care if we mess up, as long we mess up at full speed. And he knows we’re going to learn from our mistakes.”
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Late Heroics Fall Just Short for UAlbany Football
0/2/2021 https://ualbanysports.com/

Score: #9 Delaware 20, UAlbany 15

Location: Delaware Stadium in Newark, Delaware

Records: UAlbany (0-4, 0-2 CAA) | #9 Delaware (3-1, 2-0 CAA)

Short Story: The University at Albany football team played what was arguably their best game of the season against one of the FCS' top-10 teams, but fell just short on the road. The Great Danes out-gained the #9 Delaware Blue Hens in the first half, but couldn't find the end zone until late in the game. The UAlbany defense stood tall on a day in which they were on the field for close to 37 minutes.

Anthony Lang – 8 T, 3 SOLO, 1.5 SACK, 3.0 TFL

Coach Greg Gattuso: "It's a script we have to break. I think it's the best game we've played this year against a really good football team. I thought we ran the ball better, we didn't stick with it enough, but offensively there were some bright spots. Drops hurt us bad, but that's football. The defense played their tails off."
How it Happened:
The Great Danes were the first to strike, scoring three on their opening drive. Dylan Burns nailed a 45-yard kick to put UAlbany on the board, 3-0, five minutes into the game.
Delaware responded on their first drive on offense with an eight play 39-yard drive to tie the game up, knocking through a 44-yard field goal of their own.
UAlbany started the game going 2-for-2 on field goals, with Dylan Burns sending another through from 45-yards out to put the Great Danes back in the lead on the ensuing drive.
Delaware scored the game's first touchdown midway through the second quarter. Dejoun Lee was able to punch an 11-yard rush into the end zone to put the Blue Hens up 10-6.
UAlbany out-gained the Blue Hens in the first half, racking up 122 total yards compared to just 72 from Delaware.
The Blue Hens came out strong on the first drive of the second half. They drove the ball 71 yards over 12 plays, but were eventually limited to a field goal after a stand from the UAlbany defense to increase the lead to 13-6.
A touchdown that would have put Delaware ahead 19-6 was called back due to offensive holding with time winding down in the third quarter. Rather than a score, the UAlbany defense forced a punt.
The Great Danes looked to potentially tie the game at the start of the fourth, but an errant throw led to an interception for Delaware – the first turnover of the game. Moments later, Tyler Carswell got the ball right back for UAlbany with a pick of his own – setting up a drive beginning in Delaware territory.
The Great Danes would capitalize on that drive, grabbing three more points on Burns' third field goal of the afternoon – this one from 29 yards out.
With 3:37 left in the game, the Blue Hens punched in their second touchdown of the game on a three-yard rush from Anthony Paoletti.
UAlbany responded in a big way just moments later when Undercuffler found Tyler Oedekoven for a 75-yard bomb to pull the Great Danes within one score. The attempted two-point conversion was unsuccessful.

Next: The Great Danes finish up a long road stretch when they visit William & Mary next Saturday for more CAA conference action. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. Keep up with all of the latest news, highlights, and insights on UAlbany football by following the team on Twitter and Instagram and by using the hashtags #BeGreat and #WinTheDay.
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Blue Hens find way past Danes 20-15
October 2, 2021 8:56 pm
By Andy Walter

NEWARK — Things were getting a little chaotic there in the second half.

Delaware couldn’t quite put away winless Albany and both the Blue Hens’ two top quarterbacks were banged up.

Coach Danny Rocco just wanted his team to take a deep breath and remember that it was still in a pretty good spot.

“I was almost laughing as I stepped back,” said Rocco. “I wanted our players to understand that we have the lead and we’re getting the ball. And if we extend our lead, it’s going to be very difficult for Albany to come back and win the game.”

So the ninth-ranked Hens did just that, calmly marching down the field on a nine-play, 68-yard touchdown drive that ended up being the difference in their 20-15 CAA football victory over the Great Danes before a sellout crowd of 18,080 on a picture-perfect Parents Day at Delaware Stadium.

Quarterback Anthony Paoletti’s three-yard touchdown run with 3:37 remaining put Delaware (2-0 CAA, 3-1 overall) ahead, 20-9. Somebody forgot to tell Albany (0-2, 0-4) that the game was supposed to be over at that point, though.

On the next play from scrimmage, Great Dane QB Jeff Undercuffler found receiver Tyler Oedekoven alone behind the Blue Hen secondary for a stunning 75-yard pass.

But Delaware stopped Albany’s two-point conversion try and then recovered the onsides kick attempt. With the Great Danes down to one timeout, the Hens picked up a total of 29 yards on six running plays to kill off the last 3:25.

Delaware ran the ball on its final 15 offensive plays. As impressive as Albany’s defensive front had been earlier in the contest. Rocco thought the Hens simply wore the Great Danes down by the end.

“As a matter of fact, when we called the last play on the goal line, Jared (Ambrose) said to me, ‘They won’t touch Anthony on this play,’” said Rocco, referring to UD’s offensive coordinator. “They were tired. It was just one of those things where there really was no one that was able to step into that moment.

“This is no disgrace against them, it’s just football. It’s a physical game.”

Delaware needed to rely on its running game so much in part because its quarterback situation was in state of flux much of the day.

Nolan Henderson, whose status was up in the air all week because of a core injury, did start the game and completed 4-of-7 passes for 33 yards. But the Smyrna High grad was slow to get up, and visibly upset, after getting sacked early in the second quarter.

Backup Zach Gwynn came in and played fairly well. He completed 9-of-15 passes for 81 yards.

As they usually do, the Hens also used Paoletti as their wildcat QB. He ran for 53 yards and the TD on 10 carries.

Early in the fourth quarter, with Delaware leading 13-6, cornerback Nijuel Hill made a big interception on a jump ball at the Albany eight.

On the Hens’ first play from scrimmage, Gwynn fired a 20-yard strike to Thyrick Pitts. On the following play, however, Gwynn forced a pass that was intercepted.

The turnover not only led to an Albany field goal but it left Gwynn limping on the sidelines.

So it was actually Henderson who came back in for most of the last two series.

It was a situation where Delaware was glad it could also turn to Paoletti to pick up some tough yards on the ground.

“There’s a lot more we can do with Anthony than meets the eye,” said Rocco. “He could go out there and run 12 plays and put a drive together — and run it and throw it.

“It’s a very interesting reality when you’re trying to work through all those variables,” he said about the quarterback situation. “But, when you can hand the ball off and run it down hill with a pretty good stable of backs, it’s always going to be the best starting point.”

“It kind of came to fruition today,” said Paoletti. “I finally got to go out there and kind of have some drives to myself, kind of get a little momentum.

“The guys enjoy it, they really do,” he said about the wildcat offense. “It brings a lot of energy to our team and I’m very thankful for it. ... If that’s what my team needs me to do, I’m more than happy to do it.”

Delaware finished with 208 of its 322 total yards on the ground. Dejoun Lee (19 carries-112 yards) had his second-straight 100-yard rushing game, scoring on an 11-yard run with 5:08 left in the second quarter.

Lee’s TD was set up on a nice 38-yard punt return to the Albany 25 by Jourdan Townsend. With an open date last weekend, Rocco said Delaware changed some things on its punt return “to try to do just that — give us one big play.

“He almost scored on that play,” said Rocco. “

Defensively, the Hens limited the Great Danes to 270 yards — only 195 yards before the 75-yard TD pass. Delaware had 23 first downs to just 11 for Albany.

The Hens clearly got a spark from the return of safety Noah Plack, who missed the first three games with an injury. Plack broke up two third-down passes with big hits on receivers.

“I’ve been anxious to get back for weeks now,” said Plack. “I’ve felt fine for a good amount of time but there was just a couple things holding me back. I’m just glad to be back on the field finally.

“You know me, I like to hit people. To be able to do that with the whole defense around me — and the crowd was awesome by the way — just being able to hear all of them, it was great.”

If it weren’t for giving up the long TD pass, it would be a really good showing by the Delaware defense as a whole. The Hens limited Albany to three field goals otherwise.

Delaware, which lost to Albany, 21-17, on a fourth-quarter TD pass in 2019, is just glad that last TD didn’t cost it this time.

“Overall, we got the job done,” said Plack. “But we definitely, definitely can be way better.”

Extra points

Kicker Ryan Coe hit field goals of 44 and 21 yards to make him 8-for-8 on the season. ... Rocco said after the game that he didn’t have any updates on Henderson’s or Gwynn’s injuries. Henderson did throw the ball on the sidelines without any apparent issues. ... The Hens have won their last six home games. ... Eight different Delaware players caught passes with Gene Coleman pulling in a team-high five receptions for 50 yards. ... Undercuffler completed only 12-of-30 passes for 193 yards. Running back Karl Mofor finished with 69 yards on 16 carries after running for 132 yards against the Hens in 2019. ... Delaware is on the road next Saturday for a 1 p.m. CAA game at Rhode Island, which is 4-0.
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Second-Half Rushing Leads Football Past UAlbany, 20-15

10/2/2021 bluehens.com

NEWARK, DEL. – The No. 9/10 Delaware football team rushed for 179 yards in the second half and held on to defeat the University at Albany 20-15 in a CAA contest on Saturday afternoon in front of a sold-out Parents and Family Weekend crowd at Delaware Stadium. With the win, the Blue Hens improve to 3-1 on the season and 2-0 in CAA play.

"Early on, we struggled to move the ball in the first half," said Head Coach Danny Rocco. "It was very disappointing. I think there's a lot of different possibilities as to why that happened. I would be willing to say the biggest reason is that [Albany] played extraordinarily hard in the first half ... Defensively, until probably the last drive of the game which is really disappointing, we gave up three field goals. So really a good outing defensively."

It was a battle of the placekickers early on as the teams traded field goals over the first three drives. Ryan Coe drilled a 44-yard kick, sandwiched between a pair of 45-yard field goals by UAlbany (0-4, 0-2 CAA) as the Great Danes took a 6-3 lead with 4:30 left in the first quarter. 

Yards were hard to come by after that over the next seven possessions resulted in punts as the Blue Hen defense allowed just one yard on the next four UAlbany drives. The Delaware offense received a spark midway through the second quarter when Jourdan Townsend caught a punt at his own 37-yard line and returned it all the way to the UAlbany 25-yard line. Three plays later, Dejoun Lee bounced off of a couple of defenders and into the end zone for an 11-yard score to give Delaware its first lead at 10-6.

The Blue Hens held the advantage into the locker room at halftime. On their first drive of the second half, the offense used its rushing game to make its way downfield. A 21-yard field goal from Coe extended the lead to 13-6 with 8:21 left in the third quarter.

Delaware's defense held UAlbany to a 21-yard field goal after an interception gave the Great Danes a short field, cutting the UD lead to 13-9. The Blue Hens answered right back as the offense put together a nine-play, 68-yard drive that took off nearly six minutes. Three players combined to run the ball nine times, with Anthony Paoletti capping the drive with a three-yard touchdown run to make it a 20-9 game with 3:37 left.

A 75-yard touchdown pass on UAlbany's next play from scrimmage made it a 20-15 game, but Colby Reeder made a clutch tackle to prevent the 2-point conversion and keep it a five-point game. After recovering the onside kick, the duo of Lee and Quincy Watson helped the Blue Hens run out the final 3:25 off the clock to secure the program's sixth-straight win at Delaware Stadium.

Zach Gwynn came on in the second quarter and completed 9-of-15 passes for 81 yards. Lee led the rushing attack with 116 yards on 19 carries, his second-consecutive 100-yard performance, while Paoletti finished with 53 yards on 10 carries. Gene Coleman had team highs of five receptions for 50 yards. 

Coe connected on two field goals for the fourth-straight games to start the season and is 8-for-8 on the season.

The Blue Hens will head back out on the road for a pair of games, starting with a CAA matchup at Rhode Island next weekend. Kickoff at URI is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday, October 9. Delaware's next home game will be Saturday, October 23 when the Blue Hens host James Madison for Homecoming. Fans can purchase tickets for that game and all remaining home games HERE.

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Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens vs Albany (NY) Great Danes Preview, Game Time, Matchup Statistics for October 2:
Sep 28, 2021 - espn.com

The Albany (NY) Great Danes (0-3, 0-1 CAA) will try to halt a three-game losing streak when they visit the Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens (2-1, 1-0 CAA) on Saturday, October 2, 2021 at Tubby Raymond Field at Delaware Stadium.

Game Information:
Game Day: Saturday, October 2, 2021

Game Time: 3:00 PM ET - TV NBC Sports Philadelphia Plus.

Location: Newark, Delaware.

Stadium: Tubby Raymond Field at Delaware Stadium.

Delaware Stats and Trends:
The average points per game for the Fightin' Blue Hens this season, 24.7, is 10.6 fewer than the 35.3 the Great Danes have given up.

The Fightin' Blue Hens offense has averaged 341.3 yards per game this season, 91.4 yards fewer than the 432.7 allowed by the Great Danes defense.

The Great Danes have allowed opposing rushing attacks to average 228.7 yards per game in 2021 compared to the 133.7 yards the Fightin' Blue Hens offense has averaged on the ground per contest.

The Great Danes have forced four more turnovers this season (4) than the Fightin' Blue Hens have committed (0).

Albany (NY) Stats and Trends:
The Great Danes' average points scored this season, 14.7, is 11.6 fewer than the 26.3 the Fightin' Blue Hens are giving up.

The Fightin' Blue Hens defense has given up 382.0 yards per game in 2021, 197.0 yards more than the 185.0 the Great Danes offense has averaged.

The Fightin' Blue Hens have allowed opposing rushing attacks to gain 114.0 yards per game in 2021, compared to the 26.0 yards the Great Danes offense has averaged on the ground.

The Great Danes have committed one more turnover this year (5) than the Fightin' Blue Hens have forced (4).

Delaware Players to Watch:

Nolan Henderson has 616 passing yards (205.3 ypg) to lead Delaware, completing 59.7% of his passes and tossing four touchdown passes this season.

The team's top rusher, DeJoun Lee, has carried the ball 45 times for 238 yards (79.3 per game), with one touchdown this year. He's also caught five passes for 49 yards (16.3 per game).

This season Khory Spruill has piled up 29 carries for 104 yards (34.7 per game) and one touchdown.

Thyrick Pitts' team-leading 178 receiving yards (59.3 yards per game) have come on nine receptions with three touchdowns.

Gene Coleman II has grabbed 10 passes for 167 yards (55.7 yards per game) and one touchdown this year.

Brett Buckman's five receptions have netted him 68 yards (34.0 ypg).

Albany (NY) Players to Watch:

Jeff Undercuffler has thrown for 418 yards (139.3 ypg) to lead Albany (NY), completing 55.3% of his passes and collecting two touchdown passes and two interceptions this season.

Karl Mofor's team-high 106 rushing yards (35.3 per game) have come on 41 carries, with one touchdown this year.

This season Joey Carino has racked up 16 carries for 41 yards (13.7 per game) and one touchdown.

Roy Alexander's 169 receiving yards (56.3 yards per game) lead the team. He has 10 receptions with one touchdown.

Mohamed Jabbie has reeled in five passes for 68 yards (34.0 yards per game) this year.

Tyler Oedekoven's eight grabs have yielded 58 yards (29.0 ypg).

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NBC Sports Philadelphia to Air Select Delaware Football Games
9/28/2021 - BLUEHENS.COM

NEWARK, Del. - Delaware Athletics and NBC Sports Philadelphia have announced an agreement to have three Blue Hen football games air on the network this fall.

Delaware's game versus Albany (Oct. 2) will air on NBC Sports Philadelphia Plus. The Blue Hens' games against James Madison (Oct. 23) and Villanova (Nov. 20) will be on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

On the call for the fourth year will be Andrew Bogusch and Qadry Ismail.

All Delaware's home football games are also available on FLO Sports as part of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) agreement.

Channels are subject to change.
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Gwynn set to step in for Delaware Blue Hens
By Andy Walter - DELAWARE STATE NEWS
9/27/21

NEWARK — Nobody on the Delaware football team questions Nolan Henderson’s toughness.

The Smyrna High grad has bounced back too many times to wonder whether he can handle the game’s bumps and bruises.

Blue Hen quarterback Zach Gwynn, Henderson’s backup, admires that in him as much as anybody.

“It’s a tough game and he’s really tough kid,” said Gwynn. “I mean he’s a leader in every sense of the word. ... The dude’s an inspiring football player. He works and he battles and he will continue to do that.”

But the harsh reality is that Gwynn will probably have to fill in for the injured Henderson at times this fall — perhaps as soon as Saturday when Delaware (1-0 CAA, 2-1) hosts Albany (0-1 CAA, 0-3 overall) at 3 p.m.

On Monday, Blue Hen coach Danny Rocco described Henderson’s current health issue as a “hip, groin, abdomen injury” that he had surgery for last year.

“He’ll certainly play again this year,” Rocco said on the CAA weekly coaches media call. “I just don’t know how quickly or how often. But we’re optimistic that we’re going to have Nolan back in our lineup here before too long.

“But it really is somewhat day to day, week to week as we assess his situation and health.”

Henderson didn’t practice on Sunday and isn’t expected to practice again on Tuesday.

A first-team All-CAA preseason pick, Henderson was moving with some noticeable discomfort after being sacked five times in Delaware’s game at Rutgers on Sept. 18. He eventually was taken out of the contest after the third quarter.

Given the nature of Henderson’s injury, Rocco gave the impression that this status is going to remain regularly in flux. Rocco said Henderson did seem to be responding to different treatments, though.

Quoting Henderson, Rocco said the quarterback told him this week, “I feel better than I have in a long time.”

“There’s a lot to manage,” said Rocco. “There’s a lot of different conversations that are being had and I think we’re having all the right conversations.

“It’s out in front of us. Like I said, he certainly will play again here this fall. Will he play this weekend? I don’t know. Will he be able to put together a series of weeks, a series of games? We’re hopeful.”

Gwynn has had to jump in when Henderson got injured before, of course.

In each of Delaware’s last two NCAA FCS playoff games in the spring, Gwynn entered the contests at a moment’s notice after Henderson was hurt on a late hit at Jacksonville State and then injured his left knee at South Dakota State.

“I think, up to this point, I’ve prided myself on preparing like a starter each week, just in case my number is called,” said Gwynn. “For me, it’s don’t get too high, don’t get too low. Go out there and keep executing.”

In the spring, the Salesianum grad completed 6-of-10 passes for 59 yards. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder started his college career as a walk-on at FBS East Carolina.

“Zach’s a very neat, mature, likeable, talented young man,” said Rocco. “He certainly came here to play quarterback. He didn’t come here to (just) cheer for the team on the sidelines.

“He does well. I have a lot of confidence in him and his ability to distribute the football and run the offense.”

With eight quarterbacks on the roster, Delaware probably has as many players at the position as it has had in a long time.

Besides Gwynn, Anthony Paoletti has gotten considerable playing time as the Hens’ wildcat QB while youngster Cade Pribula is also considered an option if needed.

“Zach’s just been great ever since he’s gotten here,” veteran linebacker Drew Nickles said about Gwynn. “He’s really gelled with everybody. He’s not afraid to make any throws.

“He’ll just go out there and sling it — that’s what we love. He’s very confident and we all believe in him.”

It’s a strange situation for Gwynn knowing that an injury to his friend might give him an opportunity to play. But he knows he owes it to the team to be ready.

“I never want to see Nolan go down,” said Gwynn. “But, whenever I get an opportunity, it’s exciting. If that happens this weekend, I’m very excited to do that.”

Other injuries

Rocco said standout safety Noah Plack has started practicing in the last few days and might even be available against Albany.

Plack hasn’t played yet this fall after getting banged up in a car accident just before the start of the season.

“We probably missed him a little more than I wanted to recognize,” said Rocco. “He is good, he is better and he does have a calmness about him, a presence about him, a confidence about him that is really important on that back end.”

Nickles back in action

Nickles picked a pretty good time for his first game of the season, taking the field at Rutgers.

He missed the first two games with a shoulder injury.

“It felt great to be back out there with the guys,” said Nickles. “I think that was the thing I missed the most — just playing football with all my friends and having a good time.

“I feel really good right now. It’s probably the healthiest I’ve been in a while. We’ll see what happens throughout the season but right now I feel great.”

Nickles, who has lined up at defensive end at times, is known for his ability to pass rush. His return means the Hens can substitute more freely.

“There’s this idea that we have a little flexibility, a little more room for creativity,” said Rocco. “A lot of these guys can do multiple jobs.”

Extra points

Ryan Coe’s 53-yard field goal against Rutgers looked like it would have been good from considerably longer. The school record is 55 yards, set by Frank Raggo in 2017. “He certainly has more than just 53 in him,” said Rocco. ... With the open date, Delaware dropped one spot to No. 9 in Monday’s STATS FCS rankings. ... Rocco got to attend the Western Illinois game at Youngstown State on Saturday. His son, David, is the Leatherneck’s offensive coordinator. Western Illinois rallied from a 35-3 deficit to beat the Penguins, 38-35.
=====================================================

Delaware Ranked in the Top 10 of Both FCS Polls

9/27/2021 - BLUEHENS.COM

NEWARK, Del. – Following a bye week, the Delaware football team sits in the top-10 of both of the latest FCS polls, coming in a No. 9 in the Stats Perform FCS Top 25 Poll and No. 10 in the AFCA Coaches' FCS Top 25 Poll.

Delaware, which dropped one spot in the Stats Perform FCS Top 25 and rose one place in the AFCA Coaches' Poll, sits at 2-1 on the season after defeating Maine and Saint Francis (Pa.) to open the season before falling at FBS-foe Rutgers in its most recent contest.

The Blue Hens is back in action on Saturday, October 2 when they host UAlbany for a CAA matchup at Delaware Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.


Stats Perform FCS TOP 25 (Sep. 27)
Rank School (Record) (1st place) Pts.
1 Sam Houston (3 - 0) (32) 1208
2 South Dakota State (3 - 0) (10) 1195
3 James Madison (3 - 0) (5) 1162
4 Montana (3 - 0) (3) 1089
5 North Dakota State (3 - 0) 1070
6 Eastern Washington (4 - 0) 964
7 Southern Illinois (3 - 1) 909
8 UC Davis (4 - 0) 859
9 Delaware (2 - 1) 842
10 North Dakota (2 - 1) 785
11 Montana State (3 - 1) 757
12 Villanova (3 - 1) 692
13 ETSU (4 - 0) 637
14 Southeastern Louisiana (2 - 1) 574
15 UNI (2 - 1) 528
16 Missouri State (2 - 1) 527
17 Jacksonville State (2 - 2) 352
18 VMI (3 - 1) 338
19 Weber State (1 - 3) 319
20 Kennesaw State (2 - 1) 225
21 Rhode Island (3 - 0) 184
22 Richmond (2 - 2) 130
23 UT Martin (3 - 1) 124
24 UIW (3 - 1) 120
25 New Hampshire (3 - 1) 116

Others: Austin Peay (86), Alabama A&M (85), Holy Cross (74), Stephen F. Austin (71), Monmouth (35), Central Arkansas (33), Nicholls (33), Murray State (26), Jackson State (22), Chattanooga (20), Duquesne (13), Mercer (11), Princeton (11), Samford (7), South Dakota (6), Eastern Kentucky (4)

AFCA COACHES' FCS TOP 25 (Sep. 27)
Rank School (1st votes) Rec. Pts. Prev.
1 Sam Houston (26) 3-0 698 1
2 James Madison (1) 3-0 658 2
3 South Dakota St. (1) 3-0 652 3
4 Montana 3-0 614 4
5 North Dakota St. 3-0 589 5
6 Eastern Washington 4-0 557 6
7 Southern Illinois 3-1 494 8
8 UC Davis 4-0 479 10
9 Villanova 3-1 426 7
10 Delaware 2-1 425 11
11 North Dakota 2-1 400 13
12 Montana St. 3-1 387 12
13 Northern Iowa 2-1 365 14
14 East Tennessee St. 4-0 334 17
15 Southeastern Louisiana 2-1 317 16
16 Missouri St. 2-1 275 18
17 Jacksonville St. 2-2 224 9
18 Weber St. 1-3 158 15
19 Chattanooga 1-2 143 23
20 Kennesaw St. 2-1 127 T-24
21 Richmond 2-2 115 21
22 VMI 3-1 102 NR
23 Rhode Island 3-0 87 NR
T-24. Holy Cross 3-1 67 NR
T-24. UT Martin 3-1 67 NR

Dropped Out: Monmouth (N.J.) (19), Austin Peay (20), New Hampshire (22), Central Arkansas (24t)

Others Receiving Votes: Central Arkansas, 47; New Hampshire, 44; Alabama A&M, 41; Stephen F. Austin, 36; Austin Peay, 20; Princeton, 20; Eastern Kentucky, 18; Mercer, 17; Nicholls, 15; Harvard, 12; Monmouth (N.J.), 12; UIW, 10; Gardner-Webb, 9; Jackson St., 8; Charleston Southern, 5; Duquesne, 5; Illinois St., 5; Murray St., 5; North Carolina A&T, 4; Northern Arizona, 3; Northern Colorado, 3; Florida A&M, 1.

====================================================

 
Hens’ Henry to be back on the field
By Andy Walter - 9/21/21 - DELAWARE STATE NEWS

NEWARK — Mickey Henry found himself in a tough spot on Saturday.

His back had been bothering him, it was hot and he was lined up across from one of the best defensive lineman he’s ever faced.

But the Delaware center couldn’t have been any happier.

“Right before we got out there for the first play, I was smiling,” said Henry. “I was just really happy to be back out there and be in that atmosphere.”

The fact that Rutgers handled the Blue Hen, 45-13, didn’t change the fact that being on the field is always better than having to watch from the sidelines for Henry.

It was the first time that the 6-foot-4, 280-pound senior from Wilmington had gotten to play this season because of issues with his back.

Delaware was happy to have him back, of course.

“Mickey’s a savvy veteran, he really is,” said UD coach Danny Rocco. “He’s a good player, he’s a tough kid. He loves football, he loves his team.

“I think, in this moment, to have him back in advance of the open date was really beneficial for us moving forward.”

Henry has been limited since pre-season as he deals with a herniated disc in his back. He’s had spinal injections to help him with it.

Even during Saturday’s game, Henry had to come out for a couple series when his back started “acting up.”

“But for it being my first game back, my body held up really good,” said the St. Elizabeth High grad.

“It was really tough,” Henry said about sitting out the first couple games. “With the injury I have, obviously it’s going to take a while. But for some reason mine took a little longer than it should have been.

“All I could really do was help the younger guys that were in and help where I could.”

Coincidence or not, with Henry back in the lineup — along with junior guard Stevon Brown — Delaware ran for 162 yards against the Scarlet Knights. That was the Hens’ highest total in their last eight games going back to the spring.

Henry was happy to see the Hens’ running backs have some success.

“It really feels good for us up front,” he said. “We didn’t have the best of days passing the ball. Our protection didn’t hold up that much. But, when you have the ground game going, it’s something that brings confidence to the next drive.

“I love seeing those guys succeed. Our running backs are really good players but also they’re really good friends. They’re really good guys in the locker room. I wouldn’t want to block for anyone else besides for them.”

Staying on the field this fall won’t be easy for Henry given the nature of a back injury. He was planning on having another spinal injection on Monday.

But Henry said he’s determined to be out there as much as he can.

“I’m going to finish the year,” said Henry. “I want to finish it.”

Hens drop to 8th

Delaware fell two spots to No. 8 in Monday’s FCS STATS national rankings after the loss to Rutgers.

The Hens have an open date this Saturday before hosting Albany on Oct. 2.

The only Colonial Athletic Association team ahead of Delaware in the poll is still No. 3 James Madison (3-0).

Villanova (3-0) is up to No. 11, New Hampshire is No. 21 and Richmond is No. 24.

Rocco said he doesn’t think the Hens are playing as well as they did in the spring. But he remains optimistic that they’ll get better.

“To be here at 2-1 feeling like we’ve got a good number of guys on their way back (from injuries), makes me feel like we’re right where we need to be,” said Rocco.

Henderson hurting

Quarterback Nolan Henderson was clearly in some pain after getting sacked five times on Saturday.

The Smyrna High grad was walking slowly a few times before being taken out of the contest after the third quarter.

Rocco said UD’s medical staff is still diagnosing Henderson’s injuries.

“The medical community is searching and probing for other possible reasons for his discomfort,” said Rocco. “Whether it’s an MRI or another x-ray, they have yet to really feel like they’ve identified (his injury). So that’s always going to be a concern.

“I do think his presentation yesterday and today (Monday) and Saturday was the worst it’s been in terms of just managing pain and walking and things like that.”

As an offensive lineman, Henry said it’s hard to see the QB take some hits. Henderson has been sacked eight times in the last two games.

“Nolan’s a really good friend of mine so I take it a little more personally,” said Henry. “But we’re going to get it fixed, at the end of the day. We have no other choice but to get it fixed. And we’re confident that we can come back and not let that happen again.”

Home again

While Delaware was playing at Rutgers for the first time since 1973, Blue Hen linebacker Johnny Buchanan had been there before.

His father, John, played for the Scarlet Knights and took his son to Rutgers’ games when he was little. The younger Buchanan had also played a high school game at the stadium.

“It was exciting to watch them as a kid,” said Buchanan. “But when I went to high school, I threw the whole ‘fan’ thing out the window and had to choose what was best for me.

“I still do have a little bit of a chip on my shoulder. I felt like they missed out on me and still feel that way. But everything happens for a reason. I’m really happy that I ended up at Delaware. I think it was the perfect fit. I wouldn’t do it any other way.”

Extra points

Delaware did lose defensive lineman Nick Coomer for the season after he injured his knee on Saturday. He is expected to undergo surgery soon. ... Rocco remained more optimistic about linebacker Anthony Toro, who also injured his knee at Rutgers. Rocco said Toro might even return to practice next week. ... Rocco said the biggest concern for Delaware’s defense is the number of big plays the Hens have given up. Including a punt return, Delaware has surrendered four TDs of 59 yards or longer this fall.
================================================
 
Rutgers Football Defeats Delaware, 45-13
https://scarletknights.com/
9/18/21
RUTGERS 45 (3-0), DELAWARE 13 (2-1)
SHI STADIUM • PISCATAWAY, N.J.
SEPTEMBER 18, 2021 • ATTENDANCE: 40,129

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers football (3-0) defeated Delaware (2-1), 45-13, on Saturday afternoon at SHI Stadium. The Scarlet Knights cruised to their first 3-0 start since 2012.

Quarterback Noah Vedral went 21-for-25, including a 62-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Brandon Sanders and 28-yard touchdown toss to wide receiver Bo Melton. Vedral recorded a total of 323 passing yards in the win.

Running back Isaih Pacheco registered two rushing touchdowns for Rutgers. Wide receiver Aron Cruickshank led the Scarlet Knights with 151 all-purpose yards, highlighted by a 62-yard punt return score. Placekicker Valentino Ambrosio contributed a 34-yard field goal.

Defensively, linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi paced the squad with nine total tackles and two for loss. Defensive lineman Julius Turner had two of the Scarlet Knights' five sacks.

FIRST HALF
Rutgers started its scoring early. Vedral capped RU's first drive of the day with a 28-yard touchdown pass to Melton, giving the Scarlet Knights a 7-0 lead at the 9:34 mark in the first quarter.
Pretty much exactly what we picture whenever we think of Bo Melton. ��@getbusy__bo // @RFootball pic.twitter.com/sReCBKpnTY

— Rutgers On BTN (@RutgersOnBTN) September 18, 2021

Moving into the second quarter, Pacheco registered a 20-yard rush for Rutgers' next score, extending the lead to 14-0 with 12:31 on the clock.
Memo to @RFootball opponents: @isaih_pacheco always finishes his runs. �� pic.twitter.com/Crb6Rh527S

— Rutgers On BTN (@RutgersOnBTN) September 18, 2021

Delaware used its next drive to get on the board, cutting into the margin 14-7 with 11:46 to go until halftime.

Second later, Rutgers countered with a 62-yard pass from Vedral to Sanders on the first play of its following drive, pushing its advantage to 21-7 at the 11:28 mark.
.@Noah11_V ➡️ @brandonxsanders @RFootball extends its early lead. pic.twitter.com/D6MqGJfW9Z

— Rutgers On BTN (@RutgersOnBTN) September 18, 2021

Though the Blue Hens connected on a 53-yard field goal, the Scarlet Knights posted on another touchdown with less than five minutes to go in the quarter, this one a six-yard rush by Aaron Young to give RU a 28-10 lead.
��@aaronyoung04 powers his way into the end zone for the @RFootball score. pic.twitter.com/NbGlDRg7Tj

— Rutgers On BTN (@RutgersOnBTN) September 18, 2021

RU was not finished there. Cruickshank would go on to return a punt 62 yards for a 35-10 Scarlet Knight-lead entering the break.
Is there a better returner than @RFootball's Aron Cruickshank (@Ac_Hollywood_)? �� pic.twitter.com/0U6vk6EGG5

— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) September 18, 2021
SECOND HALF
Ambrosio started off the third quarter scoring for RU with a 34-yard field goal, pushing the advantage to 38-10. The Blue Hens responded with a 41-yard field goal of their own to set the margin at 38-13 at the end of the third frame.

Moving into the fourth quarter, Pacheco kept the RU momentum rolling with his second rushing touchdown of the game, establishing the game's final margin at 45-13.
How much fun is it to watch @RFootball's @isaih_pacheco run the ��? pic.twitter.com/pVtcUvhkUH

— Rutgers On BTN (@RutgersOnBTN) September 18, 2021

UP NEXT 
Rutgers travels to Michigan to begin Big Ten play on Saturday, Sept. 25. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. ET and will be televised live on ABC. 
===========================================================
 
Hens can’t stick with Rutgers
September 18, 2021 
By Andy Walter - Bay to Bay News - Delaware

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — When Dejoun Lee got to the sidelines, he knew he still had big Bradly Anyanwu out in front of him.

“I told him (during the week), ‘If you engage, I’m going to make you right,’” Lee said about the offensive lineman from Dover High. “And he did exactly what I told him. Honestly, that’s a credit to him. If he didn’t do that, I’m getting tackled right there.”

Instead, thanks to Anyanwu’s block, Lee found himself sprinting 71 yards down the sidelines for Delaware’s biggest play of the day in SHI Stadium.

Unfortunately for the Blue Hens, those kind of plays were too few and far between.

Rutgers did indeed look like the bigger, stronger, faster team as the FBS Scarlet Knights dumped FCS No. 6 Delaware, 45-13, in the first meeting between the two East Coast schools since 1973.

The Hens (2-1) certainly didn’t embarrass themselves. But they also never seriously threatened Rutgers (3-0) after the Knights erupted for 28 second-quarter points to open up a 35-10 halftime advantage, much to the delight of their red-clad crowd of 40,129 on the hot afternoon.

The Knights out-gained Delaware by a decisive 491 yards to 263 — and that didn’t even count a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown. Rutgers quarterback Noah Vedral had a near-perfect day throwing the ball as he completed 21-of-25 passes for 323 yards and a pair of TDs.

“I expected us to play better, I don’t think there’s any doubt that I’m disappointed in the way the game played out,” said Delaware coach Danny Rocco. “I did tell the team at the end that there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Don’t hang your head. Don’t walk out of here feeling ashamed in any way.

“They were a really good team and they played a really good game. We had opportunities to hang around. We didn’t take advantage of those. And then they were gone, it became lopsided.”

One of those chances to keep things competitive came in the first quarter, with the Hens trailing only 7-0.

Delaware had already picked up 30 yards and three first downs on a drive when quarterback Nolan Henderson found tight end Bryce DeMaille for about a 17-yard pass to the Rutgers’ 25. But the play was wiped out by a 15-yard chop-block penalty against Delaware.

That was followed by a 10-yard holding penalty on the next play and then an 11-yard sack two plays later.

On the first play after the Hens were forced to punt, Vedral hit a 57-yard pass and then a 28-yard pass for a TD that gave Rutgers a 14-0 advantage.

Rocco thought the chop-block penalty was the right call but that it was unintentional on the part of the Delaware players.

“That was a drive that blew up in our face,” said Rocco. “At that moment, it was a game. If we went down and got some points, that would have made a big difference in our ability to stay in it, and the longer you can stay in it, the longer it would have been a game.”

The Hens did answer with Lee’s long 71-yard run to the Knights’ one. On the next play, Henderson hit receiver Thyrick Pitts with a quick scoring pass to get Delaware back within 14-7.

Again, however, Rutgers stormed right back. On the very next play, Vedral found a wide-open Brandon Sanders for a 62-yard TD pass that put the Knights back up 21-7.

Delaware never got the Knights’ advantage under double digits again.

“The one criticism after their Syracuse game was the downfield passing game according to the people that follow the Rutgers program,” said Rocco, referring to the Knights’ 17-7 win last week. “They obviously spent time on that and executed very well. They had speed at receiver. We have good corners, but those are tough matchups in a game where you don’t have a consistent pass rush.”

“Honestly, in the first half, a lot of the points that they had were self-inflicted on our end,” said safety Kedrick Whitehead, the Middletown High grad. “No discredit to them, they’re a great team. But we just have to lock in defensively — no mental errors, no coverage busts. And we have to wrap up and make our tackles.”

Besides the touchdown, Delaware’s only points came on a pair of field goals from Ryan Coe. He boomed a 53-yarder that tied his career long.

Henderson hung in against a constant Rutgers’ pass rush, completing 11-of-20 passes for 95 yards. But the Smyrna High grad was also under a lot of pressure as he was sacked five times.

Henderson did get up slowly on a few occasions before Rocco finally took him out after three quarters.

If there was a bright spot for the Hens, it was their ability to run the ball at times.

Lee finished with 121 yards on 15 carries as Delaware netted 162 yards on the ground. That’s the Hens’ most productive day in their last eight games.

Delaware also had veteran center Mickey Henry back on the field for the first time this season.

“I think today just showed how well our ‘O’ line can block in regards to run blocking when we’re healthy,” said Lee. “That was a great sign.”

The biggest fear for FCS teams playing an FBS program is the possibility of injuries. Delaware lost defensive lineman Nick Coomer to a knee injury that looked like it might be serious.

Rocco was asked if he thought scheduling FBS schools is a good decision for an FCS team. He said Greg Schiano’s return as Rutgers’ coach clearly has the Knights going in the right direction — something that was difficult to predict when the contest was scheduled.

“The timing of things is so critical,” said Rocco. “When you schedule games, you never know what programs are really going to be like. “I think these are games that our student-athletes want to be in. Every now and then you have the opportunity to dial it up right, take the game into the fourth quarter and find a way to win one. I was hoping to do that today and disappointed we couldn’t.”

As a senior, Lee won’t get the chance to play in this kind of game again. But he said he’d still welcome the opportunity.
“I’ll play these guys every week,” he said. “Same team, the same place. It doesn’t matter.

“Everybody on this team has something to prove. Our point is that we’re a great team and we can compete with the best. You’ve got to play the best to beat the best. That’s what we want.”

Extra points

Rutgers leads the all-time series 16-13-3. ... Linebacker Anthony Toro also suffered a knee injury late in the game but Rocco was more optimistic about his ability to come back. ... Linebacker Drew Nickles, who has been sidelined with an injury, made his first appearance of the season. ... Safety Joe Zubililaga and Whitehead both had a team-high eight tackles. ... After being called for a total of five penalties in their first two games, the Hens lost 50 yards on four penalties on Saturday. ... Coe is now 6-for-6 on field-goal attempts this fall. ... Receiver Brett Buckman led Delaware with four catches for 57 yards... Delaware has an open date next weekend before hosting Albany on Oct. 2.
=============================================================
Henderson, Hens ready to take their shot at Rutgers.

September 13, 2021 
By Andy Walter - DELAWARE STATE NEWS

NEWARK - Nolan Henderson is still something of an underdog.

He was never the biggest kid or the most-highly recruited quarterback coming out of Smyrna High.

And even though he more than proven himself as Delaware's starting QB since then, that underdog mentality is still something Henderson carries with him.

He said he tries to walk the line between keeping a chip on his shoulder and having confidence in himself.

"One thing Coach Rocco always says is, 'Have the confidence of a champion and the grit and attitude and edge of an underdog,'" said Henderson.

Henderson and his Blue Hen teammates will probably need all those attributes when they head to Piscataway, New Jersey, on Saturday to face Big 10 member Rutgers (2-0) at 3:30 p.m.

It's the 32nd time the two regional programs have met but the first time since 1973. The Scarlet Knights lead the all-time series, 15-13-3, although the first 15 meetings were played before 1938.

Most people will expect Delaware (2-0) - ranked No. 6 in FCS - to get crushed, much like Rutgers did to Temple in a 61-14 rout two weeks ago.

The Hens, on the other hand, are hoping for more of a nail-biter like the 17-14 loss they suffered at Pittsburgh in 2019.

The fact that there have been a number of notable FCS wins over FBS schools already this season doesn't hurt Delaware's confidence. Montana stunned No. 20 Washington two weeks ago before Jacksonville State pulled off an even more shocking 19-13 upset of Florida State on a 59-yard Hail Mary on the final play of the contest on Saturday night.

Delaware beat Jacksonville State in the spring NCAA FCS playoffs.

"I don't think we lack confidence," said Henderson. "But, for sure, to see FCS teams go into FBS stadiums and win games just proves that, on any day, anyone can be beat. It definitely just gives us confidence knowing that that's a common opponent going into Tallahassee and winning a tough game."

Henderson is one of several current Hens who put in a steady performance against Pitt in the 2019 contest. He completed 14-of-31 passes for 127 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

In the two years since, Henderson has played in 17 more games. Since the spring, he has thrown 243 passes with 13 touchdowns and only four interceptions.

Rocco likes the way Henderson responds to big-game situations.

"It makes all the difference in the world," Rocco said about having a veteran QB like Henderson. "Although I think Nolan has (things) beyond talent. He's got character and he's got intelligence, toughness and leadership.

"Those are the kinds of things that make you feel really, really good about Nolan and his role on our football team. He's been in some really, really big moments and no moment has ever really been too big."

Like all the underdogs before them, the Hens will go into Saturday's matchup believing this is their big chance to show the football world what they're made of.

The pressure to actually win the game is on the Scarlet Knights.

"There can be a lot of outside motivation," said Henderson. "We have a lot of New Jersey kids on the team. We have a lot of kids that felt they deserved FBS offers.

"But, at the end of the day, it's just one focus, like any other week is, to come out of Piscataway with a win."

Out of the blue

Late in the third quarter of Saturday's game with St. Francis, Delaware was stuck in a fourth-and-22 hole at its own 13 yard line.

Seemingly out of nowhere, though, there was a penalty flag downfield - far away from the running play the Hens had just run.

"I had no idea what was going on - I had no earthly idea," said Rocco. "I don't know what all happened over there. I was kind of dumbfounded because all I knew was that a flag went up.

"I was kind of asking our coaches up in the box, 'What in the world happened?' We start saying, it's got to be on them. They had their whole team over there. We had one guy over there."

It turns out a Red Flash defender had driven Delaware receiver Thyrick Pitts pretty far into the St. Francis bench area at Delaware Stadium. The player was called for a personal foul, giving the Hens an automatic first down and new life.

They converted the opportunity into an insurance touchdown in the 27-10 victory.

Rocco said that was another example of how costly a penalty can be. The Hens have been called for a total of just five penalties in their first five games.

"It's an easy thing to preach, it's a hard thing to really do in the heat of the battle," said Rocco.

Picking their spots

Twice on a TD drive just before halftime on Saturday, the Hens were able to convert on fourth-down opportunities to keep the march going.

On the first, Henderson was able to draw a St. Francis lineman offsides. On the second, Henderson picked up two yards on a fourth-and-one.

"We are living in this world of analytics," said Rocco. "And if you kind of follow the analytics manual, it tells you to go for it every time on fourth down.

"I'm not going to do that but there are a couple field-position areas and third-down distances that we were thinking, if we can get into the fourth and short, we were going to go for it. It did create an opportunity."

Extra points

Delaware's running QB, Anthony Paoletti, how has scored four touchdowns since the spring season. ... Defensive lineman Tommy Walsh caused a fumble that Frank Burton recovered late in the St. Francis game. ... Rocco didn't have any new information on the Hens' previously injured players but said there's a chance some could be back this week. Among starters, that group includes safety Noah Plack, center Mickey Henry, offensive guard Stevon Brown and linebacker Drew Nickles. ... Kicker Ryan Coe is 4-for-4 on field-goal attempts with all the kicks under 39 yards.
====================================================
St. Francis Football Drops Battle with No. 6 Delaware, 27-10

9/11/2021 - https://sfuathletics.com/sports/football

NEWARK, Del. – Saint Francis University football falls in its first-ever meeting against No. 6 Delaware, 27-10. Quarterback Jyron Russell (Grand Prairie, Tx. / Timberview) produced the only Red Flash touchdown with a 66-yard run in the third quarter.

The Red Flash led the game in rushing yards 135-101 but lost the total yardage battle 360-300. Kahtero Summers (Coatesville, Pa. / Coatesville) led the Red Flash receivers with 88 yards on six catches. Russell went 14-for-25 with 165 yards passing and added 76 yards rushing. Defensively, Gio Vonne Sanders (Jaennette, Pa. / Jaenette) led the way with nine total tackles (three solo) and Donnell Brown (Upper Marlboro, Md. / Westlake) and Jake Heiple (Somerset, Pa. / Somerset) each added one sack.

Delaware produced the game's first and only points in the first quarter when kicker Ryan Coe converted a field goal. With a 3-0 lead after the first, the Blue Hens led the Red Flash 88-72 in total yards, while each team produced four first downs.

In the second quarter, Saint Francis converted a field goal on the first play and tied the game 3-3. The 42-yard field goal from kicker Alex Schmoke (Bellwood, Pa. / Bellwood-Antis) was his first of the season. The Blue Hens responded with an 11-play, 73-yard drive, but Saint Francis held them to just a field goal, despite Delaware possessing the ball inside the 10-yard line.

Prior to halftime, the Blue Hens scored the game's first touchdown with 15 seconds remaining. A Dejoun Lee one-yard run capped off a 14-play, 58-yard drive that featured a fourth-down conversion. Saint Francis trailed 13-3 at halftime and Summers led the team with four catches for 51 yards in the half.

Back from the half, Delaware extended the lead on an Anthony Paoletti one-yard touchdown run as the Blue Hens took a 20-3 lead. On the ensuing drive, Russell produced the only Red Flash touchdown of the game on a 66-yard run and cut the deficit to 20-10.

Delaware scored the game's final points when wide receiver Thyrick Pitts scored on a 30-yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone. With the Red Flash unable to respond, Delaware took a 27-10 victory over Saint Francis.

The Red Flash will return home for the first time since Nov. 16, 2019 next Saturday Sept. 18 in a matchup against Wagner at 12:00 p.m.
====================================
Blue Hens Top Saint Francis in Home Opener, 27-10

9/11/2021 - bluehens.com

NEWARK, Del. – In front of a packed student section, the No. 6 Delaware football team got the fans up out of their seats as they cheered the Blue Hens on to a 27-10 victory at Raymond Field at Delaware Stadium.

"I'm not surprised that they gave us a good game. We are capable of playing better and we have to play better moving forward," said head coach Danny Rocco. "I think holistically we did some good things, we protected the football and we made ourselves hard to beat."
The game started out a little slow for Delaware (2-0) before the offense began to pick things up in the second half.

A 36-yard field goal, a season-long by Ryan Coe, at the 6:11 mark in the first quarter gave the Blue Hens an early 3-0 lead over visiting Saint Francis.

Saint Francis (0-2) tied it up at 3-All in the second quarter, but it didn't last long, as Braden Brose muscled his way up the middle for a 39-yard catch which led to Coe's second field goal of the day with a 26-yard strike and a 6-3 advantage for the Blue Hens.

The first touchdown of the game came from running back Dejoun Lee, who pushed past the Saint Francis defense for the one-yard score with 15 seconds remaining on the clock, his first touchdown of the season.

Lee high stepped his way down the left side line, but was tripped up at the one-yard line by the Saint Francis defense. Anthony Paoletti completed the drive with a one-yard rush up the middle to extend Delaware's lead to 20-3 after the made PAT.

Jyron Russell responded for the Red Flash with a 66-yard rushing touchdown to make it a 20-10 game heading into the final quarter.

Nolan Henderson, who completed 18 passes for 259 passing yards, found Thyrick Pitts for the second straight game. This time it was a launch to the far left corner that Pitts pulled down for the highlight reel and settled the 27-10 final.

Andrew Pawlowski led the Blue Hen defense with six tackles while Liam Trainer picked up his first career interception in addition to five tackles.

Nine receivers caught at least one pass tonight with Pitts and Brose both registering 61 receiving yards.

Rocco added, "Special team was really solid. Offensively we played in spurts. We did not have a lot of big plays or explosive plays today offensively. We utilized our field goal kicker. I was proud of how we competed in the second half. We are winners of nine of our last 10 games and we are excited about moving forward to next week with the challenge against a Big 10 team."

Russell finished with 165 passing yards and 76 yards on the ground with one rushing touchdown. Gio Vo Sanders tallied nine tackles for the Red Flash.

The Blue Hens will head to New Jersey next weekend to take on a 2-0 Rutgers squad.

For the latest on the Delaware football program, follow the Blue Hens on Twitter @DelawareFB and Instagram @DelawareFootball, and like "Delaware Football" on Facebook.
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An Update for Delaware Football Fans
 9/7/2021 - BLUEHENS.COM

We are very excited to welcome back fans to Delaware Stadium this Saturday for our 2021 fall home opener. As you would expect, the University of Delaware is doing all that it can to protect the health and safety of all members of our community and the following new protocols were announced by the University on Friday. We hope the precautionary measures we are taking will make you feel more comfortable cheering on UD with your fellow Blue Hen fans. 

Consistent with how we are protecting UD students, faculty and staff, we are requiring all attendees at our home football games, ages 12 and older, to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative PCR coronavirus test taken within 72 hours of the event. "Full vaccination" means that guests have received their final COVID-19 vaccine dose at least 14 days in advance of the day of the game. Authentic proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test will be accepted as long as the test was taken within 72 hours of the day of the game through a medical or accredited company; please note that "at home tests" will not be accepted. 

Guests can present a paper copy of their vaccination card or negative test results at the entry gate, OR show an electronic copy of their vaccination card or negative test results on their smart phones. Adults will also need to show valid identification matching the vaccination card/test results.

In addition, all event attendees and participants — including UD students, faculty and staff — will need to complete the UD Daily Health Check and show the green check display reflecting health clearance for venue access. 

Face masks are recommended to be worn when you cannot physically distance yourself from others in the stadium or surrounding areas. 

Face masks are required to be worn when inside any buildings, including club areas. Food will be served in the newly built Stadium Club but guests will need to eat and drink outside so that face masks can be worn inside at all times. Food will not be served in the Bob Carpenter Club this season, but the Club will be open for Delaware Diamond Society members to watch the game. 

While children under the age of 12 do not need to provide proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test for entry, it is the University's expectation that all attendees aged 2-11 years old wear face masks at UD outdoor events. 

The University will continually evaluate its event attendance policy in consultation with public health guidance. For more information about UD's health and safety guidelines, please visit www.udel.edu/coronavirus. 
Information for Delaware Athletics non-football sporting events will be released next week.

Mobile Ticketing
Delaware Athletics tickets are delivered for all sporting events digitally. All ticket holders can fully manage their tickets through their account, including downloading tickets to their digital wallet, reissuing tickets via the print-at-home option, or transferring tickets to friends and guests with ease. This process allows for improved ticket delivery and management, as well as fewer physical contact points. Please click here to access the Digital Ticket Guide for more information.
Pre-Game/Entering Delaware Stadium
Gates to Delaware Stadium will open 2.5 hours prior to the scheduled kickoff. To avoid congestion at the gate, as wait times entering the stadium will be longer than normal with updated health and safety protocols, fans are encouraged to arrive early.
Fans are asked to enter the stadium through designated gates based on where they park on gameday. Please click here for a map of parking lots and assigned gate entry. 
Stadium Club seat ticket holders are encouraged to enter through the main entrance of the Whitney Athletic Center to receive their wristband for ease of access between the Stadium Club and their seats. 
Parking/Tailgating
Single Game Parking
Parking is available in any of the lots designated "Single Game Parking'' on the above map on a first come, first served basis. Single game parking is available for $20 on gamedays and you must pay upon entry, cash only. Advanced single game parking is available to purchase online for $18, and you must print your pass and have it in hand upon entry. Click here to purchase advanced single game parking. Tailgating is permissible in all single game parking lots. Please see below for full tailgating guidelines.
Season Ticket Member Parking
Season ticket members have exclusive access to purchase season long discounted parking. HenSaver parking pass costs $99 for the season and allows parking in any of our single game lots.
Tailgating Guidelines
Patrons may tailgate beginning four (4) hours prior to kick-off and may resume post game for up to two (2) hours after the conclusion of the game. Tailgates must be limited to the immediate space behind the patron's vehicle and driveways must be kept clear at all times. Tents or awnings are not to be erected in parking spaces, or in such a manner as to impede the flow of traffic or fire lane required by code. Failure to comply could result in loss of parking privileges. Personal porta-potties are not permitted in the parking lots. Charcoal grills are permitted, but coals must be disposed of in aluminum cans provided in each lot. Gas grills are permitted. For more information, please click here (PDF).
Food/Concessions
Food will be available to purchase in the Stadium Club, but all food must be consumed outside. (Club Menu)
Food will not be served in the Bob Carpenter Club this season, but the Club will be open for Delaware Diamond Society members to watch the game. 
Concessions will operate as normal. Brand new concession stands will be open on the west side of the stadium. (Map)
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Hens pull away to win opener over Maine 34-24
September 2, 2021 
By Andy Walter - Delaware State News

ORONO, Maine — Forget what Delaware did to Maine back in March.

Not that the Black Bears did.

With Maine intent on avenging a 37-point rout by the Blue Hens in the spring, No. 5 Delaware needed a big second half to hold off Maine, 34-24, in their season opener at Alfond Stadium on Thursday night.

The Hens scored the first 17 points of the CAA matchup and the final 17 points to pull out the hard-earned road victory.

In between, the Black Bears reeled off 24 straight points of their own — in a span of just nine second-quarter minutes — to go up 24-17 at halftime.

“I told the team here just a few minutes ago, this is hard to do,” said Delaware coach Danny Rocco. “What we did tonight is hard to do — on the road, reeling at halftime, on our heels.

“Our coaches did a great job. We were pretty cool, pretty calm, pretty poised with our thoughts moving forward. We didn’t dramatically change who we were.”

Delaware shut out the Bears in the second half, but it wasn’t easy.

Trailing by three on the last play of the third quarter, Maine completed a pass to the Hens’ three. Cornerback Nijuel Hill, however, knocked the ball loose and it rolled out of the end zone to give Delaware possession.

“That was certainly the most significant play of the game and the biggest momentum play,” said Rocco. “They had seven points right in front of them and we took them away and got the ball back.”

Finally, running back Khoury Spruill fought his way into the end zone on a two-yard run to give the Hens a more-comfortable 34-24 lead with only 8:01 remaining. The touchdown capped off an eight-play, 77-yard drive.

Quarterback Nolan Henderson completed 14-of-29 passes for 262 yards with a pair of scoring passes while also running for a TD. Gene Coleman caught five passes for 120 yards and a touchdown with Thyrick Pitts also pulling in five passes for 116 yards a TD.

Delaware tied the game early in the third quarter when Pitts caught a short pass over the middle, broke some arm tackles and turned it into a 66-yard touchdown catch.

“He just ran out of two tackles,” said Rocco. “That to me was really the biggest momentum play of the game as it got us right back to even.”

The Hens took the lead for good at 27-24 on a 20-yard field goal by Ryan Coe with 4:41 remaining in the third quarter. The kick finished off a 10-play, 54-yard march.

An interception by linebacker Colby Reeder helped seal the victory. The Hens capped off Maine’s final possession on a sack by linebacker Anthony Toro.

Maine was its own worst enemy at times, committing nine penalties for 73 yards with at least a couple of them wiping out good offensive plays. Delaware was called for only one penalty for eight yards — and it came on the first play of the night.
Black Bear QB Joe Fagnano completed 24-of-41 passes for 280 yards with two TDs and a pair of interceptions.

For over a quarter on Thursday night, it looked like Delaware would pick up where it left off in its 37-0 win over Maine in the spring.

Henderson bolted 15 yards up the middle for the Hens’ first touchdown of the season. The Smyrna High grad then found Coleman behind the Maine defense on a 55-yard toss as Delaware’s advantage grew to 17-0.

At that point, the Hens had scored 68 straight points over its last three games against the Black Bears.

So there was no reason to think Maine would explode for 24 unanswered points in the final 8:29 of the second quarter.

Fagnono twice found open receivers for touchdown passes of 28 and 59 yards.

But the back-breaker was a blocked punt that the Black Bears recovered for a TD with 2:07 left before intermission. Maine added a short field goal to stretch its lead to 24-17 at halftime.

It didn’t help that the Hens’ offense went silent, punting its last four possessions of the first half — and going three-and-out on the last three. Maine out-gained Delaware, 219-192, in the first half.

“We did do the things that make you hard to beat,” said Rocco. “We protected the football. And we didn’t have penalties and they did. There’s a lot of positives.

“We’ll celebrate this tonight and then we’re going to focus on the things we need to do better.”

Extra points

Delaware was playing without starting safety Noah Plack, who reportedly suffered some injuries in a car accident over the weekend. ... The Hens also didn’t have starting center Mickey Henry and linebacker Drew Nickles, who both had been bothered injuries in preseason, didn’t play on Thursday... Dover High grad Bradly Anyanwu saw time at left tackle. ... Delaware hosts St. Francis on Sept. 11 at 6 p.m.
========================================
 
Blue Hens Notch 34-24 Season Opening Win at Maine
9/2/2021 11:00:00 PM - BLUEHENS.COM

ORONO, Maine - The Delaware (1-0, 1-0 CAA) football team jumped out to a 17-0 lead at Maine (0-1, 0-1 CAA) to start the game. After a 24-0 run by Maine in response, the Blue Hens settled down, kept their eyes on the prize, and pulled away with a 34-24 victory to open 2021 fall play.

"Having 24 unanswered points on you is a bad place to be," said head coach Danny Rocco. "We came out of the locker room and remained positive. Gene (Coleman) made some big plays in the second half, Thyrick (Pitts) had that huge breakaway, and our defense really played well in the second half. We were opportunistic and found a way to win the game. Our coaches did a phenomenal job this week preparing us."

Football in September is back and it was a great feeling for Blue Hen fans that made the trip to Orono and for the ones watching across the nation.

Six minutes into the game, quarterback Nolan Henderson saw a wide open gap through the middle as he crossed into the end zone untouched for the 15-yard score. The TD gave the Blue Hens a 7-0 advantage after a made PAT by Ryan Coe at the 9:10 mark on the clock.

With eight first downs and 121 yards to the Black Bears' 20 yards of offense, Delaware carried a seven-point lead into the second quarter.

Ryan Coe nailed a 33-yard field goal - his first attempt of the season - to extend Delaware's lead to 10-0. The Blue Hens added a 55-yard touchdown pass from Henderson to Gene Coleman II down the left field sideline to begin the game rather smoothly.

The momentum then shifted to the home team as they rattled off 24 unanswered points to take a 24-17 lead into the locker room.

The break in play led to the Blue Hens keeping their composure and adding 10 points in the third quarter, which included a 66-yard touchdown pass from Henderson to Pitts, as the wide receiver shook off the Maine defense and eased his way into the end zone.

Khory Spruill's two-yard touchdown run in the middle of the fourth quarter was the sprinkle on the cake, as the Blue Hens began to decorate the stat sheet with multiple offensive threats.

Colby Reeder added the candles to the cake with a nine-yard interception with six minutes remaining in the game. The Blue Hens lit up the scoreboard and the field as they blew out the candles with their cheers from the sideline as the clock hit zero at Alfond Stadium knowing that they shut out the Black Bears in the second half.

"We made our adjustments," said Reeder. "A lot was attributed to us focusing in on what we do. At the half, we took a step back and focused on what we do well in practice, made small adjustments."

Reeder and Nic Ware accounted for one interception each. Both Reeder and Andrew Pawlowski led the defense with seven tackles, while Nijuel Hill forced a fumble and had four tackles.

Henderson completed 14 of 29 passes to finish with 262 passing yards and two passing touchdowns. Coleman registered 120 receiving yards on five catches, while Pitts tallied 116 yards on five receptions. It was the first time since 2009 that two Blue Hens had 100-plus receiving yards in the same game.

Tonight marked the 33rd meeting between Delaware and Maine, and the first time the two teams had played in Orono since 2013.

The Blue Hens return to Newark next week to host St. Francis on Saturday, Sept. 11 at 6 p.m. Delaware's home opener will be appreciation days for all first responders and UD Faculty and Staff.
===============================================
Here are 5 keys for Delaware football as it opens at Maine Thursday
Kevin Tresolini - 8/31/21
Delaware News Journal

After weeks of speculation about what the University of Delaware's 2021 football team may look like, and how the Blue Hens may perform, we're about to find out.

Delaware opens its 2021 fall season 7 p.m. Thursday against Maine at Harold Alfond Stadium in Orono.

The Blue Hens arrive ranked No. 5 nationally, with proven lineups from their 7-1 NCAA semifinal spring success.

But how good they are now, what they're capable of achieving and what they'll actually become begins to take shape at Maine, which can be a rather unforgiving place.

Sure enough, heavy rain and cool temperatures will welcome Delaware.

Delaware's Johnny Buchanan (33) and Noah Plack move in on Maine's Freddie Brock in the first half of the Blue Hens' 37-0 win at Delaware Stadium, Saturday, March 6, 2021.
"We did a lot of things right," coach Danny Rocco said of the Blue Hens' 37-0 win over Maine in the spring opener, which kicked off that season's success. " . . . In the biggest moments, we were there to make the biggest plays."

As it commences an autumn sequel, Delaware must follow a similar script in which offensive and defensive execution remains timely and consistent and mistakes are minimal. 

"It always comes down to those critical moments," Rocco said. 

Here are five key determining factors to keep in mind as Delaware opens at Maine:

1. Is the offensive line up to the task?
The Blue Hens' offensive front was undermined by injuries and didn't hold up well in Delaware's 33-3 FCS semifinal loss at South Dakota State in the spring. Making it better and deeper has been one of Delaware's priorities since.

Rocco repeated on his radio show this week his belief that much of a football team's success comes down to offensive line performance, and few would disagree. But issues do remain.

Starting center Mickey Henry missed most of preseason camp with an injury and James Prince III is likely to be in the starting lineup Thursday in his place. Starting spring guard Stevon Brown also practiced very little and his status remains questionable, with Bradly Anyanwu most likely to start.

Left tackle David Kroll, right tackle Ben Trent, and right guard Patrick Shupp are also likely starters.

Early this week the unit remained in flux.

"We have different combinations but we don't have everybody available," Rocco said. "That's just kinda what it is."

Rocco added that he does like his "pool of candidates" and the versatility it possesses. Robert Nachtman, for instance, has seen duty at both guard and tackle.

Recent Illinois transfer Blaise Sparks has quickly ascended to the second unit as a tackle. Center Brock Gingrich, guard Lance Schwartz, and tackle Braden Clark have also seen duty there. All four are redshirt freshmen, however, in a position area where experience is the most valuable tool.

How this unit performs will play a key role in Thursday's outcome and those beyond.

Delaware's Khory Spruill pushes for a first down on fourth and short in front of lineman David Kroll in the first half of the Blue Hens' 37-0 win at Delaware Stadium, Saturday, March 6, 2021.
2. Risk and reward
There is much at stake in opening the season with a conference game, especially in a league as deep and difficult as the Colonial Athletic Association.

Delaware is 9-4 opening the season with a league foe since joining what was then the Yankee Conference in 1986. In the four seasons the Blue Hens lost, they only made the playoffs once. That was just three years ago, when Rhode Island won 21-19 at Delaware Stadium but the Blue Hens still earned their way into the FCS bracket.

"Like it or not," Rocco said, "it does create a very significant moment to start the season in conference play. I do recognize when your goals are consistent with what our goals are and what they've been, and one of those goals is to compete for a conference championship and be relevant in that discussion, opening with a conference game is that much more significant toward your goals.

"But it's fun also. It's fun to get right into a meaningful moment."

The high stakes in visiting a traditionally difficult league foe such as Maine should have also commanded the Blue Hens' attention throughout camp, improved their approach, and crystalized their concentration.

3. Skill position depth
Some of preseason camp's best revelations came in the backfield and at wide receiver, and these are areas where it may be fun to see who Delaware unleashes Thursday. Considering that heavy rain is forecast, and game time temperatures may be in the upper 50s, adaptability is going to be a necessity.

The Blue Hens have backfield depth beyond speedy slasher Dejoun Lee and his more bruising back-up Khory Spruill, especially in versatile Quincy Watts and recent Penn State transfer Joseph Bruno. Delaware may have more multiple-back opportunities and situations in which it throws to its running backs.

Blue Hens wide receiver Brett Buckman runs after hauling in a pass.
And while Delaware has two of the CAA's best pass catchers in Thyrick Pitts and Gene Coleman II, with Jourdan Townsend not far behind, the play of the next group - Brett Buckman, Noelly Miller, Mount Pleasant High graduate James Collins and even Austin Haverstrom, wowed Rocco during camp.

"I'm really, really excited with what I'm seeing at that position," he said.


Considering their importance and value in Delaware's offense, the Hens will also need major contributions from their tight ends/H-backs, especially if starter Bryce DeMaille, who has missed some time due to injury, remains sidelined. Levaughn Lewis is viewed as a potential contributor there.

4. There's a difference
Maine will start pretty much the same offensive unit Thursday night that it did in the spring opener. Remember, player eligibility didn't count last season so everyone returns experienced lineups.

But here's where there is a difference.

Maine expects its defense to be better this fall both from the improvement of eight returning starters - Delaware resident Jamehl Wiley's 23 starts lead the team - plus the addition of several transfers.

BE WARY: Ambitious Blue Hens can taking nothing for granted

That group features linebacker Ray Miller from Campbell, safety Fofie Bazzie from Maryland, and cornerback Kolubah Pewee from Army.

"They've got more newer faces," Rocco said.

The opening game typically brings mystery because of new schemes and new players, though the latter is lessened this year because of less roster turnover.

But Maine's defensive additions are expected to make the Black Bears different and better, factors the Hens will have to work to overcome.

Delaware punter Tyler Pastula unloads a kick in the second half of the Blue Hens' 37-0 win at Delaware Stadium, Saturday, March 6, 2021.
5. No room for error
Blocked punts can quickly sway the outcome of a football game and Delaware must avoid those Thursday.

Remember, Delaware State's two touchdowns in the Blue Hens' 34-14 spring win in Dover came directly from a blocked punt and right after another. Stony Brook also blocked one in the March 13 game.

It's an area Maine might view as a potential opportunity.

The Blue Hens' employ a shield protection formation, with three lineman-type players stationed directly in front of punter Tyler Pastula.

It's imperative Delaware executes this well, including blocking up front and getting a quick, on-target snap from Jake Reed, and thwart the pressure from the edge.

=================================================
First Scrimmage of Fall Camp in the Books
8/19/2021 - bluehens.com

NEWARK, Del. – Under partly skies and the temperature in the high 70s, the Delaware football team held its first scrimmage with two weeks to go before they open the 2021 fall campaign.

The energy was electric and the Blue Hens were clicking on all cylinders, as the first game of the season nears. With quarterback Nolan Henderson slinging the ball through the air with ease against one of the top defenses in the CAA, Delaware will use these final two weeks of fall ball to clean up a few things and get ready for Sept. 2.

The final two scrimmages are tentatively set for Aug. 21 and 26.

PLAYERS MENTIONED
#2 Nolan Henderson
QB 6' 1" 195 lbs Redshirt Senior

========================================

Hens’ McGowan aims to be more than just pass rusher
August 17, 2021 
By Andy Walter - Delaware State News

NEWARK — At the end of the day, Chase McGowan knows preseason all-conference honors don’t carry any weight.

But they do carry expectations.

For the Delaware defensive end, making preseason All-Colonial Athletic Association just means he’s got a little more to prove.

“I think it raises my expectations,” McGowan said after the Blue Hens’ practice on Saturday morning. “I know what other people expect from me and now I’ve got to set that bar even higher — and keep raising it.”

Delaware coach Danny Rocco already knows that McGowan is a pretty good pass rusher.

In the spring, the 6-foot-1, 240-pund junior led the team with five sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss in eight games. That helped him earn second-team All-CAA honors as the Hens reached the NCAA FCS Division I semifinals.

What Rocco likes about McGowan now, though, is that he’s becoming more of an every-down player, not just a guy who goes in on passing situations.

“I think he is making himself a much more complete player,” said Rocco. “I have been impressed with his body, his strength. He’s a lot more explosive in the run game. I think that’s what’s going to be his biggest change this year.

“He’ll get his chances to get to the quarterback. But I think he’s made himself a much more three-down player — and maybe even to really dominate on first and second down. He may not be able to do that consistently but he can get in the backfield, make a play, maybe get a ball out.”

For McGowan, becoming a better all-around defensive lineman is as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one.

“Definitely, there’s a big mental side,” he said. “Just because there’s a different mentality between first and second down and third down. It’s just knowing what blocks I’ll get from different sets.”

After registering only one sack in nine games as a freshman in 2019, McGowan has already come a long way.

One thing that will definitely be different for him is that he’s changing his jersey number from No. 54 to No. 12 this fall. (His birthday is Dec. 12).

But McGowan is hoping that his biggest changes this season are as a player.

“I’m definitely trying to find new ways to stay on the field and complete my game,” he said.

As for making preseason All-CAA, McGowan knows it’s the all-conference team after the season that really counts.

“It was cool to see,” he said about the preseason honor. “But I definitely feel like you earn it in the fall.”

Crowded QB room

With at least seven quarterbacks on the Hens’ roster in camp, there’s no shortage of players at the position right now.

Rocco thought it was time to split up the QBs into two groups.

With Nolan Henderson the starter and Zach Gwynn the backup, Rocco has also put running specialist Anthony Paoletti and Cade Pribula in the top tier for now. That leaves youngsters Deven Bollinger, Mike Campbell and Ryan O’Connor in the second group.

Pribula has emerged some in preseason after getting over a shoulder injury that limited him in the spring. At 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, the sophomore is a little bit like Henderson in that he’s undersized but has shown some elusiveness and throws the ball well.

“We kind of wanted to see what Cade can do here early,” said Rocco. “And he did well early. He’s a natural thrower. He can get the ball out quickly, he’s accurate.

“Nolan is elite,” Rocco added. “After that, I like what we have. I think we have guys who can finish games. I think we have guys who can prepare to win a game.”

Extra points

Former Smyrna High standout Makhi Jackson has been seeing some time as a slot receiver for the Hens in various situations during camp. ... At times on Saturday, junior linebacker Liam Trainer has been lining up with his younger brother, Dillon, who’s an outside linebacker. ... For a team that has some big things expected from it, Rocco said he likes what he’s seen so far. “I think we’re right where we need to be,” he said on Saturday. “We are probably a little bit ahead with our installation. ... We’ve covered just abut every situation you can cover here. I feel really good about that.”

======================================================

Hens football team ranked No. 5 in preseason poll
August 16, 2021 
Delaware State News

The Delaware football team added another top-10 ranking to its preseason collection on Monday.

This time it was the American Football Coaches Association which ranked the Blue Hens at No. 5 in its NCAA FCS Division I poll.

As with the other rankings, Sam Houston is No. 1, James Madison is No. 2, North Dakota State is No. 3 and South Dakota State is No. 4 ahead of Delaware.

The Blue Hens are coming off a 7-1 spring campaign in which they reached the FCS semifinals. Delaware opens the season on Sept. 2 at Maine.

Besides the Hens and JMU, Villanova is No. 15 and Richmond is No. 22 from the Colonial Athletic Association.

College field hockey

Hens are No. 2 in CAA: Defending champion Delaware has been picked to finish in the Colonial Athletic Association this fall.

Delaware received a pair of first-place votes to finish with 31 points, three points behind preseason favorite James Madison in the voting.

The Blue Hens also had three players named to the Preseason All-CAA team, led by Femke Strien, who was named the Preseason Player of the Year. The fifth-year senior was a second-team All-American in the spring season.

The Hens’ Julia Duffhuis, the CAA Rookie of the Year, and junior Ashlyn Carr (Delmar) also were named Preseason All-CAA. Carr was named to the NFHCA Division I Mid-Atlantic All-Region first team and All-CAA first team last season after leading the team in assists (7) and points (13).

Sophomore Berber Bakermans and senior Grace Hoepfner received honorable mention honors.

Delaware opens the season at Old Dominion on Aug. 27.

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UD Football Ranked #6 in HERO Sports Preseason FCS Poll

7/8/2021 - Bluehens.com

NEWARK, Del. – With its eyes set on the 2021 fall season, the Delaware Blue Hens were ranked No. 6 in the HERO Sports' preseason Top 25 poll which was released on Thursday.

It's the second top-10 ranking for reigning Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Coach of the Year Danny Rocco and the Blue Hens this summer as Delaware ranked No. 5 in the Athlon Sports' Preseason FCS Top-25.

The Blue Hens, who open the season at CAA foe Maine on Thursday, Sept. 2, were 7-1 last season advancing to the semifinals of the FCS Playoffs. Delaware posted a perfect 4-0 conference record to earn the CAA championship. Full capacity in the fall was announced last week for Delaware Stadium, as the Blue Hens host Saint Francis on Saturday, Sept. 11.

Season, individual, and mini-plan football tickets are on sale now and can be purchased here.

For the latest on the Delaware football program, follow the Blue Hens on Twitter @DelawareFB and Instagram @DelawareFootball, and like "Delaware Football" on Facebook.

HERO Sports' preseason Top 25 poll
1. Sam Houston
2. James Madison
3. South Dakota State
4. North Dakota State
5. Southern Illinois
6. Delaware
T7. Montana State
T7. Weber State
9. Montana
10. North Dakota 
11. Central Arkansas
12. Monmouth
T13. Southeastern Louisiana
T13. VMI
15. Jacksonville State
16. Eastern Washington
17. Villanova
18. Austin Peay
19. North Carolina A&T
20. Chattanooga
21. Alcorn State
22. Murray State
T23. East Tennessee State
T23. Sacramento State
25. Missouri State
Others receiving votes (Alphabetical Order): Alabama A&M, Florida A&M, Kennesaw State, Nicholls, Rhode Island
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Full Capacity in the Fall for Delaware Stadium and Other Venues

6/30/2021 - Bluehens.com

NEWARK, Del. - Delaware Athletics announced a return to full capacity in Delaware Stadium and other athletics venues for the 2021-22 academic year.

With a return to full capacity in Delaware Stadium this fall, there will also be a return to our traditional pre-game festivities and tailgating. At this time, face masks will not be required for fans in attendance that have been fully vaccinated. 

UD is excited to have Blue Hen supporters cheering on our student-athletes and coaches this upcoming academic year and can't wait to see the stands full of blue and gold. 

Delaware Athletics will deliver tickets for all sporting events digitally. All ticket holders will be able to fully manage their tickets through their account, including downloading tickets to their digital wallet, reissuing tickets via the print-at-home option, or transferring tickets to friends and guests with ease. This process will allow for improved ticket delivery and management, as well as fewer physical contact points. Please click here to access the Digital Ticket Guide for more information.

Football Season Tickets l Individual Tickets 
Volleyball Season Tickets
Men's Basketball Season Tickets
Women's Basketball Season Tickets

Delaware Athletics continues to follow university, CDC, federal and state guidance regarding health and safety requirements. These updated policies are subject to change based upon COVID-19 health & safety measures and the Delaware State of Emergency being lifted on July 13th as planned. For up-to-date COVID-19 information visit udel.edu/coronavirus. 

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Two Blue Hens Appear on Athlon Preseason All-America Team

6/22/2021 - bluehens.com

University of Delaware senior offensive lineman David Kroll and junior safety Kedrick Whitehead have been selected to the Athlon Sports' FCS Preseason All-America Team announced Tuesday morning.

Both Kroll and Whitehead earned First-Team All-American honors after the 2020-21 season that ended in the FCS Semifinals.

Kroll anchored the Delaware offensive line in 2020-21, earning First-Team All-CAA recognition. He has appeared in 42 career games since arriving to Newark and helped pave the way for CAA Offensive Player of the Year Dejoun Lee and helped protect quarterback Nolan Henderson, one of the nation's most efficient passers during the 2020-21 season.

Whitehead played a key role in the Blue Hens' turnover success with an interception, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. He totaled 31 tackles on the season, including two for a loss and earned First-Team All-CAA honors.

Delaware have a short offseason with the 2021 season scheduled to kick-off Sept. 2 at Maine before the home-opener against Saint Francis Sept. 11 at Delaware Stadium. Fans interested in season tickets for the 2021 fall season can visit here. 

PLAYERS MENTIONED:

QB 6' 1" 195 lbs Redshirt Junior
#2 Nolan Henderson

OL 6' 7" 315 lbs Senior
#72 David Kroll

RB 5' 7" 185 lbs Redshirt Senior
#33 Dejoun Lee

DB 5' 11" 195 lbs Junior
#1 Kedrick Whitehead