Editor’s Note: This is another article in a continuing series of articles from past FCS championship games. This is the game story from Delaware’s 2003 title victory over Colgate.
By David Coulson
College Sports Journal
CHATTANOOGA, TN. — When the I-AA championship football game opened with snow showers blowing into Finley Stadium, it looked like Colgate had brought its home field advantage with it from Hamilton, N.Y.
But Delaware was as undaunted by weather phenomena as it was by its undefeated opponent in a 40-0 victory before 14,281 fans.
It was the first shutout in 26 years of I-AA championship history and Delaware’s first title at the I-AA level. The Blue Hens had won five previous championships in Division II, the last in 1979.
The loss snapped Division I’s longest winning streak of 21 games for Colgate (15-1).
Using a similar recipe that had worked so well in its three previous playoff games, the Blue Hens (15-1) scored an early touchdown on an eight-play, 60-yard drive and took advantage of two Raider mistakes to score twice more on the way to a 20-0 halftime lead.
“In the playoffs, we showed we were the best team in the country,” Delaware coach K.C. Keeler said. “We really dominated.”
Senior quarterback Andy Hall showed his versatility, rushing for 32 yards in the first half and completing 7-of-11 passes for 90 yards. Despite playing with a seperated left (non-throwing) shoulder, Hall finished 12-of-20 for 183 yards passing and added 36 yards on the ground.
“When he’s got everything going, he’s the best player in the country,” said Keeler. “If Andy Hall had been healthy (all season), we would have dominated more.”
Hall keyed Delaware’s second drive of the game with a 20-yard completion on third down to David Boler, scrambling towards the sidelines before delicately lofting the ball to his open receiver to gain a first down at the Colgate 20.
A 17-yard slant pass to Justin Long moved the ball to the three and Antawn Jenkins (14 carries, 55 yards, two TDs) powered in from the three on the next play to make it 7-0 midway through the first quarter.
Delaware’s stunting defense held Colgate to two first downs in the first period and the Blue Hens were rewarded on the Raiders’ second possession when a bouncing snap by Ronnie Millen resulted in a five-yard punt from Jason Sutton.
That gave the Blue Hens the ball at the Colgate 34 and Hall immediately struck with a 22-yard aerial to Boler. Hall used his legs, evading a sack from Nick Susco two plays later and scrambling 13 yards for a first down at the one.
Germaine Bennett (20 carries, 60 yards, two TDs) smashed over for the score and it was 13-0. Brad Shushman plunked the upright, but that was one of the few errors the Blue Hens made on this night. Shushmen missed another PAT in the second half.
Perhaps the most important play of the game came on the second play of Colgate’s next drive when quarterback Chris Brown lost the ball on a sack and Delaware recovered at the Raider 19.
Hall scampered 15 yards after a nifty fake to Jenkins and hit Boler (six catches for 91 yards and two TDs) for a five-yard TD strike to make it 20-0 on the first play of the second quarter.
What chance Colgate had to get back into the game all but disappeared when the Raiders failed to convert on fourth and two from the Blue Hen 20 and 37 on Colgate’s final two drives in the second quarter.
The second half was all Delaware as the Blue Hens applied the noose around the Raider offense and the Delaware attack added 20 more points.
“Delaware had great closing speed on defense,” said Colgate coach Dick Biddle. “We couldn’t maintain anything offensively. They wore us out.”
Hall found Boler for a nine-yard scoring pass midway through the third period, increasing the lead to 27-0. Bennett added another TD on a one-yard blast late in the third quarter and Jenkins scored from the two early in the fourth stanza to complete the carnage.
Colgate was limited to 157 yards of total offense, it’s lowest output of the season and gained just 44 yards in the second half. Delaware held Payton Award winner Jamaal Branch to 58 yards on 20 carries and controlled Brown on a 9-for-21, 94-yard night.
“It was a tough way to lose, but you can’t overlook what we did,” said Colgate linebacker Tem Lukabu. “This hurts a lot, but nobody can take away 15-1 from us.”