Defense and quarterback change spur come-from-behind upset over Stony Brook
ASSISTANT SPORTS EDITOR
After a slow start, Delaware shutout Stony Brook in the second half, rallying offensively to score 17 unanswered points and upset the No. 23 ranked Seawolves, 24-20, Saturday.
Delaware (3-2, 1-1) did not lead until the 13-minute mark of the fourth quarter, when a Kani Kane 6-yard touchdown run erased what was once a 13 point deficit.
With 26 seconds remaining, the Blue Hens defense made a final goal line stand, via a Blaine Woodson sack on 4th and 13 from the Delaware 18-yard line. Stony Brook had moved the ball 71 yards on 12 plays in 2:46 to threaten Delaware’s one score lead.
At halftime, Delaware trailed Stony Brook 20-7. In the first half, Seawolves quarterback Joe Carbone completed 8 of 11 passes for 145 passing yards and two touchdowns, both to wide receiver Ray Bolden. The 20 points allowed in the half was the most allowed by Delaware in a half this season, and equaled the total given up to James Madison, the CAA’s top scoring offense, in four quarters of football, a week ago.
“It was the really only half this year that I thought we were soft on defense and I called them out in the locker room at halftime,” Head Coach Danny Rocco said after the game. “I made it very clear that what I just witnessed was 100 percent unacceptable.”
The defense forced a stop on Stony Brook’s first drive out of the half. The offense then moved the ball 49 yards to set up a Frank Raggo 50-yard field goal, into the wind. On Stony Brook’s next possession, cornerback Malcolm Brown recovered a fumble and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown.
“[The fumble] was the single biggest play of the game,” Rocco said. “It made a statement that our defense was back … Once the game got tight, really all of the pressure went on Stony Brook.”
After the fumble, Stony Brook’s next three drives each ended in a punt.
“I told them after the game, I think two of the most important things that we have to do in life and football is you’ve got to be able to respond,” Rocco said. “Our team responded in the second half.”
During the week of practices leading into Delaware’s matchup with Stony Brook, Rocco said that starting quarterback Joe Walker and backup J.P. Caruso would split time with the first team. Walker, who started in each of Delaware’s first four games, was replaced with Caruso midway through the fourth quarter against James Madison with Delaware trailing by seven points.
Against Stony Brook, Walker received the start for the 25th time in his career, but after two Delaware three-and-outs to open the game, it was Caruso who led the offense to victory.
“He showed us a lot,” Kane said. “He surprised me.”
In his first series, Caruso connected with Jamie Jarmon for a 23-yard touchdown, after making a crafty escape from the pocket. The touchdown capped off a nine-play, 81-yard drive, which tied the game 7-7 with 12:37 left in the second quarter.
Caruso completed 7 of 14 passing attempts for 80 yards. He also ran nine times for 75 yards, including a 23-yard run. In the second quarter, Noah McGintry intercepted Caruso after a deflected ball, Caruso’s first interception of the season. The play also marked the seventh consecutive game that Delaware threw an interception, dating back to last season.
On the topic of who will play under center moving forward, the first-year Delaware head coach said, “We’ll continue to be open to finding ways to utilize the talents of both of our quarterbacks.”
The victory was Delaware’s first road win against a ranked opponent since 2013. The Blue Hens then defeated No. 7 Towson, 32-31. The victory moves Delaware to 3-2 on the season and 1-1 in conference play. Delaware returns to Newark next Saturday to face off against William & Mary (2-3, 0-2).