No. 20 Hens jump forward in polls with 47-24 win
Published: Monday, October 22, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 22, 2012 20:10
The score was 10-7, Delaware lead Rhode Island with under a minute remaining in the first quarter. The Rams had a first and 10 at their own 7-yard line after wideout and kick returner Brandon Johnson-Farrell took junior kicker Sean Baner’s kickoff three yards deep in the end zone and was quickly swarmed by the Delaware return team before he could get to the 10.
On first down, quarterback Bob Bentsen dropped back to pass, and the Hens brought a blitz. The defensive line engaged the blockers while sophomore middle linebacker Pat Callaway opened a hole, allowing freshman outside linebacker Jeff Williams to shoot through the gap. The result was a sack in the end zone, giving Delaware a safety and expanding their lead.
Williams said the safety, Delaware’s first since 2009, helped give the Hens momentum.
“It was crazy, it was crazy,” Williams said. “It felt great, felt great. Everybody, the whole defense rallying to me, the whole sideline getting crazy and the crowd getting crazy, it was great. I love it.”
The Hens, who trailed 7-0 early on, scored 33 straight points over three quarters to take a commanding lead. The safety was just part of that run.
Delaware entered the game missing starting sophomore quarterback Trent Hurley and starting senior middle linebacker Paul Worrilow. Head coach K.C. Keeler said the Hens have suffered as many injuries as any team he’s ever seen. According to him, quarterback Trent Hurley, who suffered a Lisfranc injury earlier in the season, may not return this year.
“I just don’t know if Trent can get back,” Keeler said. “And it’s a shame because he’s played as good football as anyone early in the season.”
As a result of the injuries, senior Tim Donnelly, who started nine games in 2011, started at quarterback for the Hens.
This year’s Homecoming game featured a pregame ceremony in honor of the 1972 Blue Hens, who went 10-0 and were named the Small College National Champions. Miami Dolphins backup quarterback Pat Devlin, who played quarterback for Delaware in 2009 and 2010, was also recognized at the game.
However, Delaware—which had been outscored 60-10 in the past six quarters—started the game off in similar negative fashion. After Johnson-Farrell returned the opening kickoff to the Delaware 47-yard line, the Rams took five plays to reach the end zone. The drive was capped off with a 6-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Robbie Jackson.
The score was the second allowed by the Hens in the first quarter in 2012, and it put the Rams in the lead for the second time this season.
Callaway said the team wasn’t worried despite the early deficit.
“We stayed calm, knew that if everybody was together, we’d be OK,” Callaway said. “We didn’t panic, kept working hard, stayed focused.”
After going three-and-out, Delaware punted, but the Hens’ defense responded by forcing a Rhode Island punt. Delaware got on the board with a field goal, though they almost had a touchdown when Donnelly found sophomore wide receiver Michael Johnson in the end zone. However, Johnson could not pull the ball in as he tried to leap over a defender.
When the Hens got the ball back following a Rhode Island punt, they took the lead with a 5-yard run by Donnelly as he dove across the goal line.
“My teammates kind of went a little crazy after that play,” Donnelly said. “I kind of blacked out, I guess. But I mean, it was pretty fun.”
After the safety and a punt by both teams, Delaware began at its own 40. Junior running back Andrew Pierce, who missed most of the Hens’ game against Maine two weeks ago with a hamstring injury, took the handoff and ran for 40 yards, a season-long run for Delaware.
He capped off the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run, his first score in three games. Pierce said he wasn’t concerned about aggravating his hamstring during the game. He also said the team was especially motivated to win, as they were playing on Homecoming and coming off a two-game losing streak.
“I know at the University of Delaware everybody comes back,” Pierce said. “So Homecoming we really wanted to get this win and we really wanted to get this win to get back on track and get ready for this long journey we got ahead of us.”
With less than two minutes to play before halftime and Rhode Island backed up inside its own 10, running back Jordan Sebastian was hit by Callaway. The ball popped loose, and Callaway fell on it, giving Delaware first and goal.
Three plays later, Donnelly found Pierce for his second touchdown pass of the year. The Hens went into halftime up 26-7.
Delaware received the second-half opening kick and drove 85 yards in 11 plays. Junior quarterback Trevor Sasek, who started 2011’s season opener, then subbed in and scored on a 2-yard run to make the score 33-7.
Keeler said the team has plans to use both Donnelly and Sasek at quarterback, and the Hens aren’t worried if Hurley does not play again in 2012.
“We have packages, but they both know the whole thing,” Keeler said. “But there are certain things that Trevor does better than Tim and vice versa, so I think we sometimes go with the hot hand a little bit, but also we can take advantage of some things they can do.”
The Rams then scored a field goal and a touchdown to close the score to 33-17. Delaware answered with Pierce’s third touchdown of the game, this one coming on third and 14.
Pierce said scoring from penalty yardage is common for him.
“I think I’m kind of used to it,” Pierce said. “I know in a couple games before, I had third and 21, so we’re able to run the ball, but whenever I get the ball I’m trying to score and put points on the board.”