By Scott Selheimer
Special to College Sports Journal
Editor’s Note: This story is courtesy of www.bluehens.com
NEWARK, DE — The University of Delaware overpowered New Hampshire in a big way Saturday afternoon as the Blue Hens piled up 284 yards on the ground and scored 25 unanswered points in the second half on the way to a 31-14 Colonial Athletic Association victory before 19,924 Parents & Family Weekend fans.
Playing for the first time since a 20-0 loss at previously winless Rhode Island back on Oct. 10, the Blue Hens (3-4, 2-2 CAA) dominated the second half as they outscored the Wildcats 25-0 for the half and handed New Hampshire its first back-to-back conference losses since 2010.
Sophomore running back Kareem Williams (at left) ran for a career-high 140 yards and a touchdown and set up another score with an 84-yard burst and redshirt freshman Thomas Jefferson added 98 yards on 26 carries and scored three touchdowns to lead a punishing ground game.
Delaware scored two touchdowns in a span of just under two minutes late in the second half to take a 24-14 lead and then put an exclamation on the win as the Hens capped an 18-play, 10-plus minute drive in the final quarter with a short touchdown run by Williams with 3:09 left.
New Hampshire (3-4, 1-3 CAA), the defending CAA champions and an NCAA Tournament participant each of the last 11 seasons, dropped its second straight game as the Wildcats managed just nine first downs and 183 total yards for the game.
“We had a physical, fast, and aggressive bunch of players out there tonight,” said Delaware coach Dave Brock of his team, which avenged a 43-10 setback to then No. 1 UNH last season in Durham, N.H. “This is a great, hard-fought win for our team. I’m proud of the way we battled back against a very good team and a great program that has set the standard for this league.”
Delaware, which entered the game ranked No. 5 in the NCAA for average time of possession, got the job done again as the Hens held the ball for 37:41, including an incredible 22:21 in the second half and 12 minutes in the final quarter.
New Hampshire took a 14-6 lead into halftime on a two-yard pass from Sean Goldrich to Jared Allison with just five seconds left in the stanza, but it was all Delaware the rest of the way.
The Hens cut the lead to 14-9 on a 33-yard field goal by Frank Raggo and then took the lead for good at 17-14 with 6:04 left in the stanza when Jefferson scored on a seven-yard burst just one play after Williams raced 84 yards down the right sideline. The play was the longest of the season for the Hens, the sixth longest run in school history, and the longest run since 2003.
“We felt like we could split one in the second half,” said Brock of Williams’ long run. “That was a huge play in this game, jump-started us, and really got us going.”
But the Hens weren’t finished as Maurice Harley stripped Dalton Crossan on the ensuing kickoff return and Eric Patton recovered at the UNH 23-yard line. After a 19-yard end around run by wide receiver Diante Cherry on the first play of the drive, Jefferson scored on a one-yard dive three plays later to give UD a 24-14 lead with 4:06 remaining.
Delaware’s defense shutdown the Wildcats the entire second half as UNH gained just 53 total yards over the final 20 minutes, including just 19 in the final stanza. UNH went three and out on five of its 10 drives for the game.
“We were really confident on defense today, especially in the second half,” said Bell, the team’s leading tackler on the season. “This feels great, especially after our loss (to Rhode Island) a few weeks ago. After that loss we were very critical of ourselves and knew we just had to move on and we did a good job of that today.”
UNH recovered an onside kick attempt by Delaware to open the game and needed to drive just 46 yards to jump out to a 7-0 lead on a three-yard burst by Crossan. But Delaware came right back on its first drive to cut the lead to 7-6 as Jefferson hit the end zone from one-yard out with 4:12 left in the opening stanza.
• Delaware will continue action next Saturday when the Hens travel to Towson for a 2 p.m. kickoff
• The 9 first downs and 183 total yards allowed by Delaware were the best defensive performances since the Hens allowed just 4 first downs and 112 total yards in a 45-0 win over Delaware State in 2011
• Delaware’s 18-play drive in the fourth quarter was the highest play total since an 18-play drive vs. Navy in 2009
• Delaware sophomore backup safety Simba Gwashavanhu had an interception in the first half – the Hens third pick of the season
• Delaware extended its home scoring streak to 215 games dating back to the 1983 season
• The Hens snapped a two-game losing streak to UNH and downed the Wildcats for the first time since a 16-3 win in a 2010 NCAA Tournament game at Delaware Stadium
• The crowd of 19,924 was a season-high
• Delaware has now won six straight games when coming off a bye week
• Blue Hen QB Joe Walker hit 7-of-11 passes for 71 yards and ran for 31 more yards