#7 Delaware Jumps Out Quickly, Cruises to 45-0 Victory Over Delaware State in First State Cup Football Rivalry
September 17, 2011
Photos Courtesy of Mark Campbell
NEWARK, Del. -- This rivalry game was over early Saturday night as the No. 7 ranked University of Delaware football squad clicked on every cylinder, jumping out to a 35-0 halftime lead and never looking back on the way to posting a 45-0 victory over in-state foe Delaware State in the second edition of the First State Cup Route 1 Rivalry at Delaware Stadium.
Junior quarterback Tim Donnelly (top right), making his first career start, was nearly flawless, completing 13 of 14 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns, running backs Andrew Pierce and Walter Davis each went over the 100-yard mark, and Nihja White caught seven passes for 122 yards to lead an offense that piled up 512 yards of total offense.
Davis (108 yards) surpassed the mark for the first time in his career, gaining all of his yards in the second half. It marked the first time since 2005 that the Hens have had two players pass the 100-yard rushing mark.
Donnelly, who completed his first seven passes, was selected as the Nate Beasley Most Valuable Player for the game by a vote of media members. The award was started this year to honor the late Blue Hen All-American running back who began his college career at Delaware State.
His .928 passing percentage for the game was the second best in school history, trailing only an 11 for 11 performance by Bill Vergantino vs. Towson in 1992, and his 272.6 passing rating was the sixth best single-game mark in UD history.
The two schools, the state’s only NCAA Division I institutions and located 45 miles apart, never met on the football field until a 44-7 NCAA playoff win by the Blue Hens in 2007. The teams met again in 2009 with Delaware claiming a hard-fought 27-17 victory. The teams are scheduled to face each other every year for the foreseeable future.
“I was so happy with the way we prepared this week and with the kind of game we played tonight,” said Delaware10th-year head coach K.C. Keeler. “We came out and played clean from the outset and so many kids did great things. Tim (Donnelly) was off the charts and defensively we played a lot cleaner. We know the competition is going to get a lot stiffer going forward, but at the same time our guys did everything we asked them to do this past week and prepared the way we needed them to. Now the challenge is to come out and do it again this week.”
The Hens (2-1) will begin defense of their 2010 Colonial Athletic Association co-title next Saturday when they host first-year league member Old Dominion at 12 noon at Delaware Stadium.
The Delaware defense was just as dominating Saturday night as the Blue Hens held the Hornets (2-1) to just four first downs and 112 total yards while forcing three turnovers, including a 32-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Jake Giusti (above left) that extended the lead to 28-0 in the second quarter. The Hornets,who were off to a 2-0 start for the first time since 2007 under rookie head coach Kermit Blount, produced -3 yard rushing for the night and were 0 for 10 on third downs. Andrew Harrison added a fumble recovery, Ricky Tunstall intercepted a pass, and Paul Worrilow, the lone Delaware native in the UD starting lineup, recorded a team-high nine tackles.
Pierce carried 15 times for 106 yards and scored three touchdowns, including a seven-yard scamper with 11:25 left in the third quarter that pushed him over 100 yards for the game and over 2,000 for his career.
A freshman All-American in 2010 when he was named the CAA Rookie of the Year after rushing for 1,655 yards, Pierce has now surpassed the 100-yard mark in five straight games since last season and has reached the century mark 10 times in 18 career games. He is the first Blue Hen runner to pass the 2,000-yard mark as a sophomore.
“We had a great week of practice, it was very physical,” said White (at right), who returned to the lineup after missing the West Chester game with a hand injury. “This was a great win for us. Tim brings great leadership and he knows how to mange the game. He studies film all the time and we have a lot of trust in him.”
In addition to his 11-yard touchdown reception, White set up Pierce’s one-yard scoring dive midway through the second quarter with a nifty career-long 59-yard grab off a perfect pass from Donnelly to the Delaware State one-yard line.
Delaware got things going early as Donnelly hit tight end Colin Naugle all alone over the middle for a 43-yard scoring toss on the Hens’ first possession and Pierce capped a season-long 96-yard march on the second drive of the game with a three-yard dive for a 14-0 lead first-quarter lead. The drive consumed just over seven minutes as the Hens controlled the ball for nearly 12 minutes in the opening stanza.
White hauled in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Donnelly just over a minute into the second stanza and Giusti followed with his fumble return for a score just three minutes later. A one-yard burst by Pierce with 7:58 left in the second quarter gave the Hens a 35-0 cushion at the break.
Unlike last week when the Hens let a 21-0 first quarter lead against West Chester vanish before holding off the Rams for a 28-17 victory, Delaware did not let up this time. Pierce’s seven-yard scoring run with 11:25 left in the third quarter pushed the lead to 42-0 and Sean Baner’s career-long 47-yard field goal with 4:44 left capped the scoring.
The Blue Hens, who led the nation in scoring defense a year ago when they advanced all the way to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision title game, posted their third shutout in the last three seasons and produced their most one-sided victory since a 48-0 win over league foe Towson last Nov. 6.