Delaware Rallies Back in CAA Football Opener, Posts 29-22 Victory over #14 James Madison
NEWARK, Del. -- The University of Delaware football squad rallied back in a big way Saturday night at Delaware Stadium as the Blue Hens overcame a 13-0 first quarter deficit and used two touchdown receptions by tight end Nick Boyle in the second half to post a 29-22 triumph over No. 14 James Madison in their Colonial Athletic Association opener.
The Blue Hens (4-1, 1-0 CAA), who won their fourth straight CAA opener, snapped the Dukes’ two-game win streak as they outscored JMU (3-2, 0-1 CAA) by a 22-3 margin in the second half.
“We dug ourselves a hole (in the first half) and we had to dig ourselves out,” said Brock, who remained unbeaten in four home games in his debut season at the helm of the Blue Hens. “Our players have done everything we’ve asked of them and have grinded it out every day at practice. They did a great job of battling back tonight and completed this comeback. We have enough playmakers that when we play intelligently, we are going to have a chance to win. I’m glad we were able to get the job done tonight.”
Delaware junior quarterback Trent Hurley shook off two first half interceptions and finished the night hitting on 20 of 31 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns, including an eight-yarder to a diving Boyle with 44 seconds left in the third quarter to give UD a 22-19 lead and the game-winning one-yard toss to Boyle with 6:40 remaining.
The Hens clinched the win when junior linebacker Patrick Callaway, who posted a game-high 13 tackles, intercepted James Madison quarterback Michael Birdsong with 1:58 left to play. Delaware then ran out the clock to post the victory and send the crowd of 18,405 home happy.
Delaware also made a special group of former Blue Hens players proud as nearly 60 members of UD’s 2003 national championship squad were on hand to celebrate their 10-year anniversary. That squad went 15-1 and defeated Colgate 40-0 in the NCAA Division I FCS title game.
James Madison kicker Cameron Starke booted three field goals, including 42 and 31 yarders in the first quarter to give JMU an early 6-0 lead and a 28-yarder with 11:35 remaining that knotted the score at 22-22. Birdsong completed 19 of 35 passes for 292 yards and two touchdowns while halfback Dae’Quan was limited to 51 yards rushing, well below is league-leading average of 148.2 yards per game. His longest run of the night was just seven yards.
Delaware back Derrick Saulsberry (at left) recorded 2.5 sacks and was part of a defense that recorded four sacks and four other tackles for loss.
Hurley also led the Hens with 48 yards rushing, including a 41-yard scamper, while Jerel Harrison (top right) caught a career-high six passes for 99 yards and Boyle hauled in five passes for 49 yards. Hurley also tossed a one-yard scoring strike to backup tight end Malcolm Bush with 3:34 left in the third quarter to pull the Hens to within 19-14.
James Madison jumped out to a 13-0 lead in the opening quarter as CAA Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Robertson (16 tackles) intercepted Hurley on the first play of the game to set up Starke’s 42-yard field goal. Starke then added a 31-yard kick and Birdsong fired a 37-yard scoring pass down the middle to tight end Deane Cheatham in the closing seconds of the opening stanza.
Delaware got on board on a two-yard run by Andrew Pierce midway through the second quarter, but James Madison answered with a 33-yard scoring pass from Birdsong to Scott with just six seconds left in the half to send the Dukes into the break up 19-7.
But Delaware came back to take the lead in the third quarter on Hurley’s scoring passes to Bush and Boyle. Bush’s score was set up when the UD defense forced JMU to punt from its own one-yard line and Rob Jones returned the kick 22 yards to the 15-yard line. Boyle’s first touchdown reception was set up when Delaware’s Andrew Opoku blocked a punt - the first by the Blue Hens since 2008 - also at the JMU 15-yard line.
Delaware will continue CAA action next Saturday, Oct. 5, when the Blue Hens head to the University of Maine for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff in Orono.
• The game marked the first meeting between the two schools since 2010 when Delaware posted a 13-10 win in Harrisonburg, Va. Delaware leads the all-time series by a 13-8 margin, including an 8-3 mark at home
• The win snapped a streak of five straight losses to Top 20 teams by Delaware
• Delaware has now won 14 straight home games in the months of August and September
• WR Michael Johnson (above right) caught four passes for 70 yards and extended his pass-catching streak to 16 games
• Pierce ran for 40 yards on 20 carries and now needs just 21 yards to become the third player in UD history to reach 4,000
• Brock became just the fourth coach in UD history to win his first four home games, joining William McAvoy (five in 1922), College Football Hall of Famer Tubby Raymond (four in 1966), and his predecessor K.C. Keeler (five in 2002)
• Boyle became the first Delaware tight end to catch two touchdowns in a game since Robbie Agnone had two vs. Towson in 2006