Navy Attack Too Much for Blue Hens as Delaware Falls 40-17 in Season Opener
September 3, 2011
Photos by Mark Campbell (Top- Andrew Pierce; Middle - Trevor Sasek; Bottom- Rob Jones)
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Navy quarterbacks have a history of big games against the University of Delaware.
Senior Kriss Proctor added to that legacy Saturday afternoon as he ran for 176 yards and three touchdowns and passed for another score as the Mids spoiled the season opener for the Blue Hens with a 40-17 victory before a sun-splashed crowd of 34,117 at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium.
The No. 5 ranked Blue Hens, last year's NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision national runner-up, were able to pile up 363 yards of offense but too many missed opportunities proved to be Delaware's undoing.
"I told our kids after the game, we will learn whatever we can from this game after we watch the tapes," said Delaware head coach K.C. Keeler, who opened his 10th season at the helm of his alma mater and fell to 2-3 all-time vs. Navy. "Then we have to flush it and move on. I thought Navy did a real good job of tweaking some things they do offensively with a quarterback that has some experience. We wanted to keep our offense on the field as long as possible today. We couldn't afford to leave our defense out there as long as we did."
Sophomore All-American running back Andrew Pierce, the 2011 Colonial Athletic Association Co-Player of the Year, led the way for the Hens, rushing for 119 yards and capping the scoring with a one-yard burst with 2:54 left that capped a 78-yard drive. The 100-yard effort was the eighth of Pierce's young career as a Blue Hen.
Quarterbacks Trevor Sasek and Tim Donnelly also showed signs of good things to come. Sasek, who started the game after winning a battle with Donnelly during pre-season, completed 9 of 19 passes for 82 yards and scored the Hens' first touchdown on a 21-yard run before leaving the game in the second half with a knee contusion. Donnelly, a junior, hit on 7 of 9 passes for 60 yards and an interception.
Sasek's status will be evaluated this week as the Hens prepare for the home opener Sept. 10 vs. West Chester at Delaware Stadium at 6 p.m.
Proctor, a first-year starter for the Mids after replacing 2010 standout Ricky Dobbs, broke away on a 75-yard scoring jaunt on just the fourth play of the game and later scored on runs of 27 yards in the third quarter and one-yard early in the final stanza. He also hit Aaron Santiago on a 12-yard scoring toss midway through the final stanza to push the Navy lead to 40-10.
Delaware's defense, which lost eight starters and three All-Americans from a unit that led the nation in scoring defense a year ago when it gave up just 12.1 points per game, allowed its highest point total since a 41-7 setback to Colonial Athletic Association foe James Madison in 2008.
Navy, which went 9-4 a year ago and advanced to the Pointsettia Bowl, always features one of the most explosive running attacks in NCAA Divison I football and this year will be no different. The Mids' triple-option attack piled up 391 yards and 19 first downs on the ground vs. the Hens. Overall, the Mids piled up 437 yards on Saturday.
"The disappointing thing about playing Navy is that defensively we learned nothing from this game," said Keeler. "Now we have to put our players back in positions that they would normally play. It will be kind of like starting over because it is a brand new defense, our normal defense, that we will be playing against West Chester. There are still a lot of questions we have. We just have to get back to practice and really work on getting better."
Despite the lopsided score, the Hens did put up some decent numbers on offense, running for 220 total yards, equalling Navy's 22 first downs, and converting 7 of 14 third down attempts. However, the Hens were hurt by two turnovers and several dropped passes. Navy did not commit a penalty all day as well.
Navy jumped out to a 16-0 lead as Proctor scored on his long run and Santiago capped a 61-yard drive with a 13-yard scamper with 2:29 left in the first quarter. Navy added on to the point total on Jon Teague's 36-yard field goal with 6:43 left in the second quarter.
Delaware finally got on the board late in the first half as Sasek led an 80-yard drive that resulted in his 21-yard touchdown run with 2:08 left. After hitting Rob Jones on a 20-yard toss across the middle, Sasek ran eight yards to the Navy 21.
On the next play, Sasek was flushed out of the pocket but found plenty of running room on the left side. He scampered around the corner and dove in for the score, getting into the end zone by inches as the ball hit the pylon.
However, a 54-yard field goal by Teague with just 25 seconds left in the stanza, a new Naval Academy record by two yards, gave the Mids a 19-7 lead heading into intermission.
Navy opened the second half with a 78-yard drive that was finished off by Proctor's 27-yard run with 10:03 left. Delaware sophomore Sean Baner answered with a 25-yard field goal that cut the lead to 26-10 late in the third quarter, but the Mids put the game away as Proctor scored on a one-yard dive with 13:08 left to play and then hit Santiago alone in the center of the end zone from 12 yards out to extend the lead to 40-10.
But the Hens kept digging away and closed out the game on a high note as they drove 78 yards on 12 plays, capping their final possession with Pierce's one-yard dive with 2:54 remaining.
Notes....RB David Hayes added to the Blue Hen running attack with 61 yards on eight carries...Jones caught a team-high five passes for 73 yards....WR Nihja White extended his pass-catching streak to 24 games and became the 25th player in UD history to reach 1,000 career receiving yards with a third quarter reception (he now has 1,006)...junior transfer Rauley Garagoza averaged 36.5 yards on four punts...junior LB Paul Worrilow, a team co-captain, led the Hens on defense with 13 tackles while Auburn transfer Jessel Curry was in on nine stops...Delaware CB Marcus Burley picked up the only Navy turnover of the game when he intercepted a Proctor pass at the Delaware 10-yard line with 29 seconds left in the third quarter...Hens will host West Chester for the home opener Saturday, Sept. 10 at Delaware Stadium at 6 p.m....special events will include Band Day and Service Appreciation Day.