No. 12 Blue Hens Cruise Past William & Mary, 51-21, in Wild CAA Opener to Stay Unbeaten
Photos Courtesy of Mark Campbell
September 22, 2012
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- The University of Delaware’s Colonial Athletic Association opener vs. host William & Mary Saturday night had a little bit of everything.
A nearly 90-minute weather delay, an NCAA record 90-yard touchdown off a blocked kick, and the first touchdowns by a Blue Hen defensive lineman in over 25 years were all part of a wild evening at Zable Stadium.
But most importantly, it included an easy victory for the No. 12 ranked Blue Hens as Delaware scored early and often and overwhelmed the winless Tribe for a 51-21 victory.
The unbeaten Hens (4-0, 1-0 CAA) jumped out to a 24-0 lead by the midway point of the second half, scored just minutes after the weather delay to go up 41-7, and cruised to their most lopsided win over the Tribe since a 1986 NCAA playoff victory. William & Mary fell to 0-4 (0-2 CAA) for the first time since 1981.
“I really like our team and I thought today we got better,” said Delaware head coach K.C. Keeler, whose team downed William & Mary in Williamsburg for the first time since 2007. “We had a little softer schedule than they did coming in so it wasn’t a good indication of where we were. But our effort was great tonight. We came out and played well right away after a long delay and showed a lot of maturity. This was a really good effort and any time you can win on the road in this league...that’s pretty hard to do. Our kids really like to play and they are a fun group to coach. This win gives us a lot of confidence going into next week (at New Hampshire).”
The heroes were plentiful for the Hens on an evening that started out warm and pleasant, was delayed for 80 minutes due to lightning midway through the third quarter, and ended in a driving rainstorm.
Travis Hawkins (left) returned a blocked field goal attempt 90 yards for a touchdown to establish a new NCAA record, junior defensive tackle Zach Kerr (top right) returned an interception 47 yards for another score, freshman defensive end Vince Hollerman returned a fumble 45 yards for a score, Andrew Pierce (bottom right) rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns, and Sean Baner converted three field goals, extending his school-record tying streak to 15 straight and converting a season-long 48-yarder.
The win was Delaware’s seventh straight dating back to last season, marking the third longest active streak in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision behind only Harvard ( 11) and North Dakota State (8). The win was the Blue Hens’ most lopsided against the Tribe since Rich Gannon led Delaware to a 51-17 win in the second round of the 1986 NCAA I-AA playoffs at Zable Stadium.
Delaware’s 4-0 start this season is its best since a 7-0 start in 2010 when the Hens shared the CAA title with William & Mary and advanced all the way to the NCAA championship game.
Baner, who scored 15 points on the night, converted field goals of 20, 20, and a career-long 48 to run his streak to 15 straight made, tying the UD mark set by Jon Striefsky back in 2007. Bander is now 10 for 10 on field goals this season to rank among the national leaders.
Delaware jumped out to a 24-0 lead early as Baner capped the Hens’ first drive of the day with a 20-yard field goal. His kick capped a 14-play, 78-yard drive that took seven minutes off the clock. Just two minutes later, the Hens went up 10-0 when Quincy Barr put a vicious hit on quarterback Raphael Ortiz as he was attempting to throw.
The jolt forced the ball into the air and Kerr easily pulled it in and raced 47 yards untouched for a score. The touchdown was the first scored by a UD defensive lineman since Rob Hyman scored on an interception vs. Boston University in 1996.
“Quincy was the one who really made that play,” said Kerr, a first-year transfer from Maryland who also recovered a fumble last week in the 19-3 win over Bucknell. “He made a great move to get to the quarterback and hit him while he was throwing the ball. It literally dropped into my hands and all I saw was the end zone. I was just in the right place at the right time. Quincy did all the hard work on the play, I wish he had scored the touchdown.”
Delaware quarterback Trent Hurley, who completed 12 of 22 passes for 133 yards and also rushed for 34 more, scored on a one-yard sneak early in the second quarter to up the lead to 17-0 and the Hens increased the advantage to 24-0 when Hawkins picked up a field goal attempt that was blocked by teammate Laith Wallschleger and streaked 90 yards down the sideline for a score.
The play broke the previous NCAA FCS record of 89 yards set in 1982 by Western Illinois’ Pat Bayers vs. Youngstown State. Wallschleger blocked a field goal attempt for the second time in three games after also knocking down a kick vs. Delaware State.
That score was set up when Delaware cornerback Marcus Burley made a touchdown saving tackle at the 10-yard line after Ortiz hit Ryan Moody on a 58-yard pass play. But the Tribe couldn’t move the ball and set up for a 20-yard chip shot field goal attempt by Drake Kuhn. But Wallschleger jumped up to knock down the kick and Hawkins took over from there.
Oritz finally put William & Mary on the board on a two-yard dive with 3:26 left in the first half, but the Hens came right back and took a 27-7 lead into halftime when Baner (at left) converted a 48-yard field goal with 39 seconds remaining.
Delaware then reeled off 21 straight points in the third quarter with Pierce, who posted his second straight 100-yard rushing performance and his 17th career 100-yard effort, scoring on runs of 23 and 4 yards just 10 minutes apart.
The 23-yard run was Pierce’s longest jaunt of the season and was also the All-American’s first touchdown of the campaign.
The Blue Hen lead then stretched to 48-7 when Hollerman picked up a fumble by Ortiz and ran 45 yards for his first career score. The fumble was set up when Delaware’s leading tackler, Paul Worrilow, sacked Ortiz hard to force the miscue.
William & Mary added two scores over the final 16 minutes to reach double figures, including an eight-yard scoring run by Darnell Laws with 1:06 left in the third quarter and a 91-yard punt return for a touchdown by B.W. Webb with 6:15 left to play.
Delaware will look to make it 5-0 next week when the Hens take to the road again to face New Hampshire in Durham, N.H. The Wildcats lost a wild one on Saturday as they let a 40-24 halftime lead slip away in a 64-61 setback to CAA foe Old Dominion.
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