Blue Hens Knock Out Lehigh 42-20 to Advance to NCAA Football Quarterfinals
December 4, 2010
Pictured top to bottom: WR Mark Schenauer (#6), QB Pat Devlin (#17), DE Matt Marcorelle (#11), WR Tommy Crosby (#81) (Photos Courtesy of Mark Campbell)
NEWARK, Del. -- While the brisk temperatures and strong winds lowered the wind chill near freezing, the No. 5 ranked University of Delaware rode the red-hot throwing arm of quarterback Pat Devlin and used 28 unanswered points to wear down Lehigh and advance in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs with a 42-20 second round victory Saturday afternoon at Delaware Stadium.
Devlin, the Colonial Athletic Association Offensive Player of the Year and a top 10 finalist for the Johnny Unitas Gold Arm Award, posted his fourth straight 200-yard passing effort as the threw for 256 yards and connected for touchdowns with four different receivers. His four touchdowns matched a career-high set vs. Massachusetts each of the past two seasons and upped his total to 11 over the last three games.
The Blue Hens (10-2) now advance to the NCAA quarterfinals where they will take on CAA foe New Hampshire (8-4) either next Friday or Saturday. New Hampshire, which didn’t play the Blue Hens during the regular season, advanced with a 45-20 victory at Bethune-Cookman Saturday afternoon. The dates and games times for all four quarterfinal games will be announced Sunday afternoon.
Delaware rolled up 450 total yards against a No. 19/18 ranked Lehigh squad that had entered the game ranked 10th in the nation in scoring defense (17.2 points per game) and was riding an eight-game win streak - the longest among the 20 teams in the NCAA tournament field. The Patriot League champion Mountain Hawks ended their season with a 10-2 mark despite a big effort from quarterback Chris Lum, who had a career day as he connected on 35 of 58 passes for 362 yards and two touchdowns but was intercepted twice.
“Lehigh gave us everything we thought they were going to give us,” said Delaware head coach Keeler, who improved to 9-2 all-time in NCAA FCS playoff action and stayed unbeaten at home in six playoff games at Delaware Stadium. “We always say that the CAA prepares us for tournament play and I think that was certainly true today. I don’t think Lehigh saw a passing game like ours in the regular season this season. Pat is the best quarterback in the country and does such a great job reading the field. The offensive line did a great job protecting him today like they have all season.”
Delaware, the 2003 national champion and the NCAA runner-up in 2007, has now advanced to the quarterfinals four times in nine seasons under Keeler.
Delaware connected for touchdowns with four different receivers on the afternoon, hitting Mark Schenauer (at right) on a 29-yard scoring strike and Chris Campbell on a one-yard toss in the second quarter and hooking up with Tommy Crosby from 38 yards out and with Nihja White on a 20-yard scoring play as part of a 21-point third quarter. After Lehigh took a 14-13 lead midway through the second stanza, the Hens reeled off 28 straight points to take command.
Schenauer, a junior, enjoyed his best career game as he hauled in five passes for a career-high 113 yards with his touchdown catch the first of his career. Crosby finished with three receptions for 69 yards while White caught three balls for 39 yards. The Hens showed their balance as they also piled up 194 yards on the ground as CAA Rookie of the Year Andrew Pierce rung up 88 yards and scored on a five-yard run on the Hens’ first possession of the game while David Hayes added 74 yards on the ground and scored on a 16-yard burst in the third quarter to up the lead to 35-13.
“I have confidence in all the wideouts and Shenny (Schenauer) has such great hands,” said Devlin, who also reached milestones of 400 completions and 5,000 career passing yards at Delaware during the victory. “We had four touchdowns with four different guys today and that just shows you what kind of receiver core we have. Lehigh plays an unorthodox defense and that was a challenge for our offensive line but they were able to do a great job in protection and gave me and wide receivers the chance to do our jobs.”
All-CAA cornerback Anthony Walters led the way for the Blue Hen defense that has led the nation in scoring defense for almost the entire season and had entered the game ranked No. 1 nationally in scoring defense (11.6 points per game) and third in total defense (267.8 yards per game). He intercepted two passes, the first in the UD end zone just before halftime with Lehigh driving for what would have pulled them to within one-point heading into intermission. Instead, Walters returned the interception 50 yards to midfield as the first half clock expired.
Linebacker Paul Worrilow added a team-high 12 assists for Delaware while sixth-year senior Matt Marcorelle, playing extensively at defensive end for the first time this season, had nine tackles, including 3.5 for loss. The Mountain Hawks managed just 29 yards on 20 carries on the day.
The game marked a resumption of one of the great rivalries in Delaware football history. The two schools, located just two hours apart, faced each other for the 47th time but the Blue Hens continued their recent dominance, downing the Mountain Hawks for the third straight time and for the ninth time in the last 10 meetings. The two teams also met in the 2000 NCAA quarterfinals with Delaware pulling out a 49-22 victory.
“I thought we did some things well today,” said Lehigh head coach Andy Coen, who earned Patriot League Coach of the Year honors after leading the Mountain Hawks to a perfect 6-0 slate in league play. “But when it comes down to it, you can’t sugar coat it. They are a good football team that is bigger, faster, and stronger. I was impressed by Devlin coming into this game. He made some great throws, fitting the ball into some tight windows, and his receivers made some great catches. Our kids battled the whole game. We have nothing to be embarrassed about. We had a great season.”
Delaware, which has scored first in all 10 of its wins this season, got on the board on its first drive of the day as the Hens moved 68 yards on 11 plays and capped the drive on a five-yard run by Pierce, who made a spin move and outran several Lehigh defenders into the end zone for his 15th rushing touchdown of the season just under six minutes into the contest.
But Lehigh came right back as Lum hooked up with a diving Ryan Spadola for a 13-yard touchdown pass with 4:26 left in the opening stanza to tie the game and the Mountain Hawks then went ahead on a 28-yard field goal by Tom Randazza on the first play of the second quarter. That score was set up when Casey Eldemire recovered a fumble by Crosby at the Lehigh 49-yard line. Nine plays later Randazza gave Lehigh a 10-7 lead.
Delaware came back to take the lead for good as Devlin and Schenauer hooked up on the 29-yard scoring pass with Schenauer catching the ball on his fingertips as he ran into the end zone. Randazza followed with a 25-yard field goal with 7:47 left in the second quarter as Lehigh cut the UD margin to 14-13.
But from there, it was all Delaware as the Hens took a 21-13 lead into the break behind a big play from an unlikely receiver. Chris Campbell, a junior special teams standout and backup linebacker for the Hens, moved over to offense and lined up in a two-back offense. He caught a pass in the right flat, diving in the end zone for a one-yard score with just 3:06 left before intermission. The catch was the first of his career.
The Hens then ran away with the game in the second half, outscoring Lehigh 21-0 in the third stanza and pushing the lead to 42-13 behind Devlin’s touchdown passes of 38 yards to Crosby and 20 yards to White and behind Hayes’ 16-yard scoring burst.
“All we know is that Monday they (Lehigh) are going to be collecting their equipment and it could have been us,” said Keeler. “I knew that if we settled down after Lehigh got the lead in the second quarter we would be fine and we were. The plays by Campbell and Walters were huge because it gave us a lot of momentum heading into halftime.”