Defense stifles the Bison, Hens survive struggle
Published: Monday, September 17, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2012 17:09
Delaware was not going to win every game by 20 points this year. In fact, the Hens did not even score 20 points in the game against Bucknell Saturday at Delaware Stadium.
However, Delaware won the game 19-3, but the final was more deceiving than it appeared, according to junior defensive tackle Zach Kerr.
“The score doesn’t usually show how good a game is or how bad a game is,” he said. “You really have to get in and look at film.”
The Hens had a three-point lead going into halftime thanks to Bucknell missing a 41-yard field goal with just seconds left. In the first half, the Bison’s inhibited Delaware’s offense by using short passes, screens and quarterback draws.
The big momentum swing came when Bucknell wideout Jake Flaherty fumbled the ball on the Bison’s 10-yard line. Freshman defensive lineman Vince Hollerman forced the fumble and Kerr recovered it.
The ball laid by itself until Kerr landed on top.
“It’s kind of like coming home to that good sandwich mom makes and seeing it on the table,” he said of the ball lying on the field.
Although the turnover gave the Hens great field position, they were unable to do anything with the opportunity and junior kicker Sean Baner drilled his second field goal of the day to put Delaware up 6-3.
Baner was the Hens most valuable offensive weapon on the day. He was 4 for 4 in the game and has now made 12 consecutive field goals since last season. It was the third time in his career Baner has kicked four in one game, tying the Delaware record he previously set.
“I like being busy though,” he said. “I got to keep myself warm. It feels good to get out here. I’m upset I didn’t get the record. I thought I was going to get it, but you can’t win them all.”
He attributes his success to being focused. He said the game has really slowed down for him from a lot of hard work with snapper, junior Eddie Herr.
Besides Baner, junior running back Andrew Pierce had his first 100-yard game of the season behind an improving offensive line. Pierce tallied almost 50 percent of the Hens’ total offense in the first half.
Sophomore quarterback Trent Hurley said the team just needed to execute better and he blamed himself for missing open receivers in the game.
“We went into halftime and said, ‘Calm down guys,’” Hurley said. “We knew Bucknell was a great team, but we weren’t executing.”
Hurley and the team did calm down when he dropped back for a pass, saw a seam and took off for the end zone.
The Hens were driving and the crowd was becoming frustrated with the offense only kicking field goals. Hurley took a big hit, but he said was determined to score, and put his head down and rumbled into the end zone.
He said the offense was struggling at that point in the game and the team needed a touchdown on the board.
With the seven points, the Hens had a 16-3 lead with 4:20 left in the third quarter. The defense was able to stifle the Bison the rest of the half as they cruised to the win. Kerr said it was a completely different second half for them because of the defense’s intensity.
He said the team didn’t come out as intensely as they could in the first half, but was pleased with the team’s improvement from the previous weeks.
“I feel like on both sides of the ball, we eliminated so many mistakes, opposed to the first two weeks where guys are kind of all over the place,” Kerr said.
Head coach K.C. Keeler stressed the importance of getting into this type of game before league play. Keeler said Bucknell executed their quarterback draws, screens and bootlegs to keep the Hens’ offense off the field, but the defense did their job.
He said the offense did struggle, but the unit is improving. A big part of the struggles came from not having senior wide receivers Rob Jones and Nihja White, who are both injured. Keeler said the team will get White and sophomore tight end Nick Boyle back next week.
“You don’t ever script it this way, but it was nice getting into halftime and you are struggling a little bit—it is a 6-3 ball game,” Keeler said. “Everyone’s told you all week long, ‘You should be winning this ball game by 14 or 18,’ or whatever and the kids didn’t panic and went out there and executed pretty well.”
The Hens open their CAA schedule this Saturday at William & Mary. Hurley said the team needs to be “a whole heck of a lot more polished” to compete in an away CAA game. However, Kerr had a different view.
“I hope they are,” Kerr said of the Hens’ readiness for conference play. “We better be ready. We don’t have any other choice.”