Delaware pounced by Nova, ends season with eighth straight to Wildcats
Managing Sports Editor
Delaware’s defense couldn’t stop Villanova’s potent offense, and the Wildcats came away with a dominant 55-33 victory in the Battle of the Blue. Villanova has won eight straight against the Blue Hens and 13 of the last 14 meetings.
“We certainly did not put up much of a fight defensively today,” Head Coach Danny Rocco said. “And that’s evidenced in the score, evidenced in the flow of the game, evidenced in how easily they were able to get the ball in the endzone.”
Villanova got on the board quickly, scoring on a quarterback keeper by Daniel Smith. The Wildcats scored again on a 33-yard pass from Smith to wide receiver Zac Kerxton with 3:21 left in the first quarter.
Delaware countered with a 68-yard touchdown run by redshirt freshman running back Will Knight to make it 14-7 Wildcats. However, Villanova answered less than two minutes later on a 16-yard touchdown catch by wide receiver Changa Hodge from Smith, but the Wildcats missed the extra point. Hodge scored again on an 82-yard touchdown catch with 9:30 to go in the second quarter.
Knight capped off a 9-play, 86-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 27-14. Villanova responded with a 1-yard touchdown run of it’s own by freshman running back DeeWil Barlee. Senior kicker Jake Roth added a field goal for Delaware to go into the locker room down 34-17 at halftime.
The second half didn’t fare much better for the Blue Hens.
Hodge scored on 43- and 37-yard touchdown passes late in the third quarter. Delaware scored next on a 21-yard pass to junior wide receiver Thyrick Pitts and added a two-point conversion.
Villanova scored again on a 1-yard touchdown run from sophomore running back Jalen Jackson.
Delaware scored one final time on a six-yard pass from redshirt senior quarterback Pat Kehoe to junior wide receiver Gene Coleman II. Kehoe caught the two-point conversion on a throw from freshman wide receiver Noel Miller.
On the Blue Hen’s last possession, Kehoe fumbled on first and goal, and Villanova recovered and burned the clock out for the 55-33 victory.
Kehoe threw for a career high 336 yards and two touchdowns in his last game for Delaware. Coleman II led the receiving attack with 104 yards and a touchdown. Pitts added 79 yards and a touchdown. Knight rushed for 89 yards and two touchdowns.
For Villanova, Smith threw for 378 yards and five touchdowns.
Hodge’s 236 yards on eight catches were the third most that any Delaware opponent has ever recorded against the Blue Hens. On top of that, Hodges also hauled in four touchdowns.
Villanova’s 55 points was their highest ever against Delaware and the most Delaware has given up this season.
“[I’m] really disappointed in how our team performed today,” Rocco said. “I think we all certainly expected to come up here and play a more competitive game and play a better game, so I take ownership of that.”
Villanova outgained Delaware 589 yards to 525. Villanova scored on all of their redzone chances, going four for four. Delaware threw for a season-high 336 passing yards.
“They were extraordinarily efficient offensively,” Rocco said. “We really had a hard time getting a stop or getting any stops.”
The game was a representation of the entire season: disappointing. Back on Oct. 20, now Senior Reporter Pat Laporte released a midseason evaluation of the Blue Hens after their win versus New Hampshire. They were 4-3 at that point, and could only afford one loss, maybe two. They ended up losing the next three in a row.
It seemed odd since the Blue Hens were able to keep up with Atlantic Coast Conference foe and Football Bowl Subdivision, Pitt, and even led in the fourth quarter. So why could they not get the job done against their lesser Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) and Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) opponents?
Part of the reason is the Blue Hens were near the bottom of the FCS in many major statistical categories. They were no. 100 out of 124 teams in passing yards, no. 115 in sacks allowed, no. 85 in third down conversion percentage, no. 101 in third down conversion percentage defense and dead last in team sacks. That is not a formula for a winning team. If the Blue Hens want to turn their record around next season, some things are going to have to change.
“It’s going to be a very challenging winter,” Rocco said. “Because we got a lot of work to do, and I gotta get this right.”