Delaware Defense Comes Up Big as #13 Blue Hens Shutout #9 William & Mary 21-0
October 8, 2011
Photos Courtesy of Mark Campbell
NEWARK, Del. -- Thirteenth-ranked University of Delaware bounced back in a big way Saturday night as the Blue Hens held No. 9 William & Mary scoreless for the first time in 14 years and posted a 21-0 Colonial Athletic Association football victory at Delaware Stadium.
The Blue Hens (4-2, 2-1 CAA), who extended their home winning streak to seven games and won for the 14th time in the last 15 outings at Delaware Stadium, held the Tribe (3-3, 1-2 CAA) to just 11 first downs and 210 total yards for the game.
William & Mary, annually one of the league’s top offensive teams, was shutout for the first time in 154 games since Delaware knocked off the Tribe 14-0 during the 1997 season at Delaware Stadium.
Delaware bounced back from a 31-17 loss at Maine last week, a game in which the Hens had a three-game win streak snapped as they allowed 477 total yards and gave up numerous big plays to the Black Bears. William & Mary did not have a play from scrimmage gain more than 23 yards Saturday night.
All-American sophomore running back Andrew Pierce (bottom left) the CAA Pre-Season Offensive Co-Player of the Year, led the Blue Hen offensive attack as he rushed 28 times for a season-high 143 yards and scored on a four-year burst early in the second quarter to give the Hens a 14-0 lead.
Pierce went over the 100-yard mark for the fifth time in six games this season and for the 12th time in 21 career games at Delaware. He also moved into ninth place on the all-time UD rushing list with 2,287 yards, passing Norman Coleman (2,215 yards in 1993-96). Pierce also caught a game-high seven passes for 26 yards.
“This whole week of practice was about working on the details,” said Delaware head coach K.C. Keeler, whose team snapped a personal three-game losing streak to William & Mary and downed the Tribe for the first time since the 2007 national runner-up season. “We worked hard on that and it paid off. We cleaned up a lot of things this week and we didn’t let up the big play tonight like we did last week. We have a pretty good defense when we don’t give up the big play. Offensively, I think we did a great job of being patient tonight. We ran right at them and Andrew ran as well as he has all year. When we run the ball like we did tonight (214 yards), we can be a force.”
Quarterback Tim Donnelly, who had a rough outing last week vs. Maine when he threw four interceptions, also rebounded well for the Hens as he completed 16 of 24 passes for 124 yards and tossed scoring passes of 29 yards to senior Bobby Russo in the first quarter and 11 yards to Nihja White in the fourth quarter to put the game away. For Russo, it was his first career touchdown. Donnelly engineered two scoring drives that went for 90 or more yards.
Delaware’s defense posted its second shutout of the season and its second in league play in the last two seasons. The Hens shutdown Delaware State 45-0 back on Sept. 17 of this season and downed league foe Towson 48-0 last November, both at Delaware Stadium.
Junior linebacker Paul Worrilow paced the Hens defense with 11 tackles while Michael Atunrase made six stops and Andrew Harrison (top right) posted three tackles and snared his first career interception. Travis Hawkins also picked off a pass for the Hens.
“We haven’t beaten William & Mary since I’ve played here so it means a lot to get this win more than anything,” said Harrison, a Richmond, Va. native who posted his first interception at any level of football. “And to pitch a shutout is even better. We were really challenged this week by Coach Rapone (defensive coordinator Nick Rapone). He asked us why we were waiting so long to show people what we can do, especially after giving up 31 points to Maine last week. To pitch a shutout, we couldn’t be happier. I think we made Coach Rapone happy, too.”
The Tribe did not have a drive go longer than 49 yards and none lasted longer than 4:08. William & Mary had only five drives go past midfield and never got closer than the Delaware 17-yard line. Drake Kuhn missed a 44-yard field with 3:46 left in the first quarter, Hawkins intercepted William & Mary starter Michael Paulus at the Delaware 18-yard line in the first quarter, and the Tribe gave up the ball on downs at the UD 17-yard line early in the final quarter.
Paulus got the start for the Tribe, filling in for starter Michael Graham, who missed the game with an illness. Paulus completed just 10 of 24 passes for 84 yards and two interceptions before being relieved by Brent Caprio, who was 5 of 8 for 50 yards.
William & Mary senior running back Jonathan Grimes, who shared CAA Pre-Season Player of the Year honors with Pierce, was held to just 47 yards rushing on 15 carries.
Delaware had a rough start Saturday night as William & Mary’s Quincy September blocked a punt by Rauley Zaragoza on the first drive of the night. The Blue Hens had not had a punt blocked in 301 attempts over 70 games dating back to a 2005 game vs. William & Mary. The Tribe recovered the blocked punt at midfield but could not capitalize on the Blue Hen miscue.
The Hens came back to score the only points they would need all night. After starting their drive at their own two-yard line, the Hens drove 98 yards on nine plays and opened the scoring on Donnelly’s 29-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Russo on the right side. A pass interference penalty against William & Mary the previous play set up the score.
Delaware’s second score came thanks to a shanked punt by Kuhn’s, whose kick went just five yards, giving the Hens the ball at the William & Mary 24-yard line. Donnelly threw a 16-yard pass to Mark Schenauer on first down and three plays later Pierce dashed into the end zone from four yards out for his team-high eighth touchdown of the season with 13:43 left in the first half.
The teams traded turnovers twice before Delaware finally got on the board again, upping the lead to 21-0 on an 11-yard scoring strike from Donnelly to White with 13:19 left to play. The Hens drove 91 yards on 15 plays on that possession with Pierce gaining 40 yards on the ground during the drive.
Hens Scratchings: Delaware returns to action next Saturday when the Blue Hens host Massachusetts for Parents and Family Weekend....Delaware posted its sixth shutout in 10 seasons under Keeler...the Hens have now scored in 192 straight games since 1996 and in 188 straight home games since 1983...Delaware now leads the series with William & Mary by a 22-14 margin, including a 13-4 record in Newark....the game was a battle between last year’s CAA co-champions...Delaware’s seven-game home win streak is the fourth longest current streak in the NCAA Division Football Championship Subdivision...Keeler is now 17-12 vs. Top 10 opponents in his 10 years at Delaware...White caught two passes for 20 yards to extend his streak to 28 straight games with at least one pass reception, the third longest streak in UD history...Delaware’s last five opponents have converted just 9 of their last 62 third down attempts (14.5 percent)...Delaware sophomore QB Trevor Sasek saw his first action since injuring his knee in the season opener vs. Navy Sept. 3 and rushed once for seven yards and threw an incomplete pass during the Hens’ final drive.