Hens struggle in second-half, trounced by Navy 51-7
Published: Monday, September 16, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 16, 2013 21:09
Saturday in Annapolis, Md., was a rough day for the Delaware football team, which was routed by the Navy Midshipmen with a score of 51-7.
The Hens were unable to find a rhythm all game, and the Midshipmen took advantage of several Delaware miscues throughout the game.
Junior quarterback Trent Hurley, who went 17 for 25 for 152 yards and got a touchdown to go with two interceptions, said he felt like the team was hindered by frequent mistakes that upset the offensive flow.
“We shot ourselves in the foot the entire game,” Hurley said. “We knew we would have to put up points in this game. Navy has a great offense [. . .] It’s really hard to overcome yourself.”
Navy’s unconventional triple-option offensive game plan gave the Hens’ defense trouble the entire game. Keenan Reynolds, Navy’s quarterback, was masterful in guiding the Navy offense up and down the field on a Hens defense that at times looked tired and confused.
Reynolds came up big in the spotlight on Saturday, finishing the game with 109 rushing yards on 15 carries, along with 233 yards and two touchdowns on 10 for 13 passing.
Delaware’s offense did move the ball some against Navy’s defense, gaining 336 yards. The Hens’ opening drive of the game started off with promise, with Hurley hitting four different receivers on five attempts, for 21 yards.
The offense stalled around midfield after a false start penalty, and a shanked 6-yard punt gave Navy the ball at its 47-yard line. After that, Navy struck quickly with a 10-yard touchdown run from Darius Staten, culminating in a six-play drive that took 2:27 off the clock. Five different players carried the ball for Navy on the drive.
Senior defensive tackle Zach Kerr said after the game the methodical, machine-like nature of Navy’s offense, which produced 589 total yards to Delaware’s 352, was one of the reasons for the Hens’ struggles. He said it is difficult to prepare for an offense that is not widely used in football anymore.
“It’s a well-oiled machine, they practice it every day, they’ve been doing it for years,” Kerr said. “It’s hard to stop something like that, especially when it’s not traditional. You don’t see it every day. Hats off to them, they run the triple-option, and they execute it very well.”
Kerr also said the defense was somewhat surprised at the variety of the Midshipmen offensive attack, particularly an expanded passing game usually absent from Navy’s offensive systems. Reynolds’ 233 passing yards were not only a career-high for the young quarterback, they were also the most a Midshipmen quarterback has thrown for in a game since 2000.
“We were surprised about that a little bit,” Kerr said. “We know we could stop the run. We put ourselves in a couple situations where we stopped them as far as running the ball, then they caught us off guard with passes over the top for big plays. That’s the story of the game, big plays after big plays.”
The game was 10-0 in favor of Navy heading into the second quarter, when the Midshipmen began to pull away. The Hens had possession of the ball to start the quarter, when Hurley threw a pass that was deflected by junior receiver Michael Johnson into the arms of Navy linebacker D.J. Sargenti, who returned it to Delaware’s 44-yard line. Two plays and just over a minute later, Navy slotback Geoffrey Whiteside took an option pitch from Reynolds and ran 7 yards around the right side to the end zone.
On the Hens’ next drive, Hurley and backup running backs Julian Laing and Jalen Randolph carried the offense down to the Navy 37-yard line. Hurley hit Stephen Clark and Jerel Harrison early in the drive, but on his fourth pass attempt, he was intercepted by cornerback Brendon Clements. Hurley avoided a would-be sack, scrambled to his right, then fired into quadruple coverage. Reynolds then hit slotback DeBrandon Saunders for 63 yards for a touchdown. Saunders finished with a team-leading 3 receptions for 86 yards and a touchdown, along with 2 rushes for 18 yards.
The Hens are now 2-1, with wins over Jacksonville University and Delaware State University. The Hens next play Wagner University on Saturday at Delaware Stadium at 6 p.m..
Brock said he was proud of how the team persevered and played hard, even when the score was getting out of hand. He also said he does not think the Hens’ first three games have been a very good gauge of the team’s true ability.
“The Navy game will not define this team, and neither will the first two wins,” Brock said. “I don’t think we will know what we really have until after six games. I don’t know that we found out a terrible amount during the first two weeks, and I’m not 100 percent sure of what we found out today. Time will tell.”