NEWARK, Del. -- William & Mary entered Saturday’s Colonial Athletic Association football clash boasting the nation’s top-ranked defense. The University of Delaware found out first-hand how dominant the Tribe could be.

After Delaware’s Travis Hawkins (UD homepage photo) returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, the Blue Hens found yards hard to come by all day and had their three-game win streak snapped in a 24-10 setback to the Tribe before a season-high Parents & Family Day crowd of 21,010 at Delaware Stadium.  

The No. 15 ranked Blue Hens (7-3, 4-2 CAA), who lost for the first time since Oct. 5, dropped their first decision in six outings at Delaware Stadium this fall as they managed just 223 total yards, including negative 19 yards rushing. Both totals marked season-lows for a Blue Hen squad that had entered the game among the national leaders in scoring offense at 34.0 points per game.

No. 23 William & Mary (7-3, 4-2 CAA), which was allowing just 12.0 points per game this season, won its third straight game as Mikal Abdul-Saboor carried 32 times for a career-high 140 yards and quarterback Brent Caprio hit on 10 of 19 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Safety Jerome Couplin returned a fumble 51 yards for a touchdown early in the first quarter to kick-start the Tribe defensive effort.

“We just weren’t able to get into a rhythm (on offense),” said Delaware head coach Dave Brock. “We battled hard and had confidence and a belief in ourselves down to the end but we just didn’t do a good enough job. Give the credit to William & Mary. They handled us up front and we had too many unforced errors. We did a fantastic job to start the game off and played really well defensively, but we just couldn’t do enough offensively.”

The Tribe defense harassed Blue Hen quarterback Trevor Sasek (below left) all day, sacking the senior three times and intercepting him twice. Sasek, who was the hero of Delaware’s  incredible 32-31 comeback win over No. 7 Towson last week when he took over the starting spot in place of injured starter Trent Hurley late in the week and threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns, including two scores in the final 48 seconds, hit on 25 of 49 passes for 242 yards vs. William & Mary.

The day started out great for the Blue Hens when Hawkins, a senior cornerback, took the opening kickoff and outran the William & Mary defense,  sprinting down the right sideline and diving head-long into the end zone on the way to a 97-yard touchdown. The return was the third longest in school history and marked just the second time in UD annals that the Hens had returned the opening kickoff for a score, matching a 95-yard return by Ricardo Walker against William & Mary in 2002.

But William & Mary answered right back on Couplin’s fumble return just three minutes later to tie the score and then took the lead for good at 10-7 as John Carpenter booted a career-long 47-yard field goal with 28 seconds left in the first stanza. Caprio then hit Tre McBride on a three-yard pass with just nine seconds left in the second quarter for an insurmountable 17-7 lead at the break.

The Tribe tacked on a 30-yard scoring pass to Sean Ballard with 11:35 left in the third quarter to push the lead to 24-7 and the Hens could manage only a 36-yard field goal by Sean Baner with six seconds left in the third quarter the rest of the way. Delaware could not make ground despite forcing the Tribe to punt on six straight possessions after Ballard’s score.

Delaware will look to remain in the NCAA FCS playoff chase next Saturday when the Blue Hens host Richmond at 12 noon for Senior Day at Delaware Stadium.

Hen Scratchings
Delaware extended its scoring streak at home to 203 straight games dating back to 1984
• Rob Jones caught a team-high eight passes for 40 yards for Delaware while Michael Johnson caught six balls for 45 yards and continued his streak of catching a pass to 22 straight games
• Delaware RB Andrew Pierce was held to just 20 yards rushing but upped his career total to 4,353, just 11 yards shy of No. 2 on the all-time UD rushing list and No. 9 on the all-time CAA chart
• Delaware LB Patrick Callaway notched a career-high 18 tackles and moved past the 200-tackle plateau for his career
• Redshirt freshman punter Eric Enderson  (at right), who entered the game ranked No. 2 in the CAA in punting with a 43.1 yards average, kicked nine times for a 48.4-yard average, including punts of 58, 59, and 61 yards. He also had three punts land inside the William & Mary 20-yard line.
• Delaware senior Zach Kerr had two of Delaware’s three quarterback sacks
• Delaware held William & Mary to just 293 total yards, the third time this season that the Hens allowed less than 300 yards