• Boxscore

NEWARK, Del. The University of Delaware football team opened the Danny Rocco Era with a 22-3 victory over in-state foe Delaware State Thursday night at Delaware Stadium.

Senior wide receiver Diante Cherry led the Blue Hens (1-0), making four catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. The Lancaster, Pa., native also had a 19-yard acrobatic run off a reverse for another score. The 102 all-purpose yards earned Cherry the Nate Beasley MVP Award as the game's outstanding player.

The Blue Hens offense finished the opening night performance by racking up 432 yards of total offense, but it was the defense that truly shined.

That unit, which returned all but one starter from last year's team, held Delaware State (0-1) to just 224 yards of total offense, and to 3-13 success on third downs.

Delaware allowed just a 24-yard field goal late in the first half after stoping the Hornets on the one-yard line.

The Blue Hens defense forced three turnovers, recovering a pair of fumbles before sealing the win with an interception by redshirt freshman Nijuel Hill late in the fourth quarter. 

Blue Hens redshirt junior quarterback Joe Walker (above) went 13 of 26 for a career-high 192 yards and the touchdown to Cherry while redshirt junior running back Thomas Jefferson ran for 102 yards on 19 carries. 

Head Coach Danny Rocco
"I certainly recognize tonight the significance of team here at Delaware. I recognize the significance of the production of the game and all the involvement from so many people. I want everyone to know how much I appreciate all the support. We had a good crowd and there was great energy out there tonight."

"I think that calmness allowed our football team to finish with some confidence. We certainly didn't play as well as I expected us to play. We did the things we had to do to win the football game. We finished in a way that allowed us to be the better football team out there tonight. We did some good things but we were just way too inconsistent."

"I thought our defense held up their end of the bargain. I thought the two second half takeaways were probably the two most critical plays in the game. They really took away any hopes they had to actually win the game and gave us just enough momentum to go down and finish the drive and extend the lead. I've been doing this a long time and I know how hard it is to win a college football game so we are very happy to get the win."

Diante Cherry
"I was trying not get down on myself (after dropping a sure touchdown on a crossing pattern pass from Walker in the first half). You are going to make some mistakes in a game and I just needed to bounce back. I felt like we were executing things, but when it came down to crunch time, converting third downs, getting into the end zone, we just didn't do that very well. We just have to watch the films and see what we can do better as a team."

Hen Scratchings
• Rocco won his first game as head coach at Delaware and improved to 91-42 all-time as a head coach. He served as head coach at Liberty University in 2006-11 and at the University of Richmond in 2012-16.

• Rocco became the fifth straight Delaware coach to win his debut, joining College Football Hall of Fame members Dave Nelson (1951 vs. Lehigh) and Tubby Raymond (1966 vs. Hofstra), and K.C. Keeler (2002 vs. Georgia Southern), and Dave Brock (2013 vs. Jacksonville, Fla.).

• Delaware has now defeated downstate opponent Delaware State in all eight meetings since the first game in 2007 with an average winning margin of 27 points per game.

• Delaware has now won 9 of its last 13 season openers, 25 of its last 28 home openers, and 25 of its last 27 games vs. non-league opponents at Delaware Stadium.

• Jefferson surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark for the sixth time in his career.

• Junior defensive end Cam Kitchen opened the Delaware scoring when he notched a safety after tackling Mike Waters in the end zone late in the first quarter. Kitchen later recovered a fumble that led to the touchdown pass from Walker to Cherry.

• Redshirt junior kicker Frank Raggo converted field goals of 21 and 25 yards, the second giving Delaware an 8-0 lead late in the second quarter. He has now converted 10 of his last 13 attempts.

• Members of the team presented Rocco with the game ball in the locker room in celebration of his first Delaware victory.

MEDIA INFORMATION: Contact Scott Selheimer | selheime@udel.edu | Office: 302-831-8007 | Cell: 302-562-5129