Blue Hens Can't Overcome Mistakes, Drop Second Straight with 38-34 CAA Setback to Rhode Island
October 22, 2011
Photos Courtesy of Mark Campbell
KINGSTON, R.I. -- Multiple mistakes by the University of Delaware proved to be too much to overcome as the Blue Hens dropped a 38-34 Colonial Athletic Association football setback Saturday afternoon at Meade Stadium.
The No. 16 ranked Blue Hens (4-4, 2-3 CAA) did force four turnovers on the day, turning two of them into first half scores, but three turnovers of their own and two big mental mistakes in the final quarter proved to be Delaware's undoing.
Delaware dropped its second straight game and remained winless in three road games this season. Rhode Island, which has endured several tough-luck losses throughout the season, losing four games by nine points or less, put an end to its three-game losing streak and improved to 2-5 (1-3 CAA), sending its Homecoming crowd away happy.
"There is not a whole lot going our way right now," said Delaware head coach K.C. Keeler, whose team had defeated the Rams four straight times since 2006. "Our big thing right now is that we are not only making mistakes, we are compounding them. We are not doing a good enough job about forgetting about the last play and moving on."
A game that featured three ties and four lead changes typically wasn't decided until late as Delaware rallied from a two-touchdown deficit in the final quarter but couldn't complete the deal.
Rhode Island broke a 21-21 tie with two scores in the first five minutes of the final quarter as Brandon Johnson-Farrell hauled in a 13-yard scoring pass from Bob Bentsen on the second play of the final quarter and De’ontray Johnson followed three minutes later with a 12-yard burst to give Rhody a 35-21 lead with 11:21 remaining. Johnson’s touchdown was set up when Ram linebacker Dave Zocco intercepted a pass at the URI 40-yard line.
The Blue Hens cut the gap to 35-28 on a two-yard scoring run by sophomore All-American Andrew Pierce, his second of the day, with 8:06 left, and the Hens had a chance to even things but couldn't get it done.
Rhode Island was forced to punt from its own 41-yard line with 5:40 left to play and a high snap went over the head of punter Louis Feinstein. Feinstein, who also kicked three field goals on the day as the team’s placekicker, chased the ball down and was able to get off a punt on his own five-yard line.
The ball rolled to the Rhode Island 47-yard line where Delaware punt returner Rob Jones (middle left) tried to pick it up. But the ball slipped away from the Blue Hen junior and URI's Selwyn Nicholas recovered to keep the Ram drive alive.
Later on that same drive, Rhode Island faced a fourth and one situation at the Delaware 45-yard line. The Rams went for it, using a hard count to try to force the Hens offsides. The tactic worked as Delaware defensive end Quincy Barr jumped too soon and was whistled for a penalty, again keeping a drive alive. URI then drove down to the Delaware 22-yard line and seven plays later Feinstein converted a 39-yard field goal with 1:19 left to push the score to 38-28.
Delaware got one more chance and drove the length of the field, scoring on the final play of the game when quarterback Tim Donnelly, who had replaced starter Trevor Sasek in the first half, hit Rob Jones on a 36-yard pass play. But it proved to be too little too late.
Rhode Island piled up 484 total yards on the day as Bentsen, who got the start in place of injured Steve Probst, hit on 18 of 33 passes for 278 yards and three touchdowns while Johnson ran for 122 yards on 15 carries, Anthony Baskerville caught seven passes for 147 yards, including a 73-yarder to open the scoring in the first quarter, and Johnson-Farrell caught six passes for 100 yards and two scores. The Rams had three plays go for over 30 yards during the day, including Baskerville’s 73-yarder and Johnson’s 60-year scamper that set up a second half touchdown.
Donnelly hit on 16 of 27 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns while Sasek was 7 of 12 for 47 yards. Nihja White (top right) caught six passes for 90 yards and a score and Pierce finished the day with 22 carries for 80 yards.
"We just played poorly and made a lot of mental mistakes today," said Delaware senior linebacker Andrew Harrison, who made seven tackles. "I'm surprised where we are right now. We play in a difficult conference but we have to play better."
Delaware's leading tackler Paul Worrilow (bottom right) led the team with eight tackles while Travis Hawkins and Tim Breaker each intercepted a pass, Jessel Curry broke up three other passes, and Michael Johnson and Derek Coleman each recovered fumbles on special teams. In addition for the Hens, kicker Sean Baner converted field goals from 47 and 22 yards.
After the teams played to a 21-21 tie, the score remained knotted as Feinstein and Baner each traded third quarter field goals. Baner’s field goal was set up when Coleman recovered a fumble by Johnson on a punt return at the URI 23-yard line.
Rhode Island pulled ahead thanks to Johnson-Farrell’s 13-yard scoring reception from Bentsen in the right corner of the end zone and Johnson’s 12-yard scoring burst up the middle, a score that proved to be the game-winner. Johnson-Farrell’s scoring capped a four-play, 73-yard drive that was highlighted by a 60-yard dash by Johnson, who broke multiple tackles to move the ball down to the Delaware 13-yard line.
A wild first half that saw the teams combine for five scoring plays in the second quarter alone ended fittingly in an 18-18 tie at the break.
After Delaware missed a golden scoring opportunity when White dropped a sure touchdown catch at the five-yard line on the Hens’ first drive of the day, Rhode Island came right back to score first as Bentsen sent a perfect pass nearly 50 yards through the air to Baskerville and the Ram wideout capped the 73-yard scoring toss with 10:16 left to play. Bentsen, who also doubles as the URI holder, picked up the bobbled snap and ran in for the two-point conversion to give URI the 8-0 lead.
Rhode Island’s Nicholas intercepted a Sasek pass at the Rhode Island 13-yard line to stop another Blue Hen drive, but the Rams could not take advantage as a 39-yard field goal attempt by Feinstein hit the left upright.
Delaware came right back to take an 11-8 lead early in the second quarter as Baner matched his career-high with a 47-yard field goal with 11:10 left and Pierce scored around the right side for a 16-yard scoring run with 9:45 left and then added a two-point conversion on a pass from Sasek. Pierce’s touchdown was set up when Johnson recovered a fumble by Billy Morgan on the kickoff return at the URI 20-yard line.
The Rams took back the lead moments later as they drove 71 yards on 10 plays and capped the drive when Bentsen hit a diving Johnson-Farrell from two yards out with 4:58 left for a 15-11 lead.
But the lead changed hands again thanks to the Hens taking advantage of another URI turnover. Hawkins, who would later leave the game with a concussion, picked up his second interception in two weeks as he stepped in front of a Bentsen pass and returned it to the Ram 33-yard line.
On the next play, Donnelly spotted a wide-open White on the left side the Blue Hen junior stepped into the end zone from 33 yards out to give the Hens an 18-15 lead with 1:48 left. The touchdown was White’s team-high fourth of the year.
Rhode Island then tied the contest at 18-18 just before the half ended as Feinstein nailed a season-long 44-yard field goal with just five seconds left in the stanza.
The Blue Hens will continue their two-game road swing and be looking to back into the win column this Saturday when they travel to Towson to take on a much-improve Tiger team that entered Saturday ranked No. 15 and tied for the CAA lead with a perfect 3-0 league mark.
Hen Scratchings.....Delaware now leads the series with Rhode Island 19-8 as the Rams downed the Hens for the first time since the 2002 season...Delaware extended its game-scoring streak to 194 straight game with at least a point, a mark that dates back to the 1997 season....Delaware, which entered the game ranked No. 3 in the nation in third-down conversion defense at 23.9 percent, allowed the Rams to convert just 5 of 14 for the game...Pierce’s final carry of the game, his 22nd of the afternoon, was his 500th career carry, making him just the seventh player in school history to reach that milestone...Pierce also moved into seventh place on the all-time UD career rushing yardage list with 2,452 yards, passing UD Hall of Famer Gardy Kahoe, who had 2,374 yards in 1969-71...White has now caught at least one pass in 30 straight games, the third longest streak in UD history.