EDWARDSVILLE (PA) – Delaware Valley College senior tailback Matt Cook carried the ball 42 times for a school-record 324 yards and four touchdowns as the 12th-ranked Aggies survived eight turnovers and posted a 30-18, come-from-behind victory at Wilkes University in a Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) game.
The win improved Delaware Valley to 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the conference. The Aggies and Lycoming College (5-1, 3-0) are the lone teams to have perfect MAC records and the two will meet at Delaware Valley on Homecoming next Saturday, October 23 (1:00 p.m.).
Cook, a three-time all-conference honoree, shattered the previous yardage record of 254 set by Eric Reynolds against Albright in 1984. Cook's four rushing scores tied the school record held by three players (including himself) while the 42 carries was two shy of that mark. He netted 159 yards in the first half and added 165 more over the final 30 minutes.
Cook's performance helped the Aggies overcome eight miscues as it lost six fumbles and had two passes intercepted. They entered the game having committed just three turnovers in the first five weeks and were ranked second in all of Division III with a plus-11 turnover margin.
Delaware Valley matched their previous total with three turnovers in the first six minutes of the game. The second miscue was on a fair catch attempt of a Wilkes punt and it was recovered at the Aggie 28-yard line. The Colonels went to their bag of tricks as, on a double pass, tight end Anthony Duranda eventually threw a 28-yard toss to a wide-open Jordan D'Emilio for the touchdown. The extra-point attempt was blocked by Mike Jaskowski leaving the score at 6-0 with 9:17 left in the opening quarter.
On the ensuing drive, Isaiah Hall tried to reverse field twice on an Aggie run, but he lost the ball and it was recovered by Wilkes once again at the 28-yard line. A penalty moved the ball up to the 14, but the defense held and the Colonels settled for a 29-yard field goal by Chris Horn and a 9-0 score with 7:12 remaining.
Delaware Valley regrouped and pounded the ball with Cook. The Aggies went on a 10-play, 66-yard drive with Cook getting the call seven times for 49 yards. The last was a one-yard plunge into the end zone with exactly three minutes left in the quarter. Jake Sobchak added the point-after to cut the deficit to 9-7.
On the Aggies' next drive, Mark Hatty had a pass was intercepted by Will Jones at the one-yard line. Jones had a long return called back because of a penalty and Wilkes began its drive on its own three-yard line. The Colonels moved the ball to the five but, on third down, quarterback Alex George was sacked by Aggie All-American linebacker Kyle Gesswein in the end zone for the safety. That tied the game at 9-9 with 11:15 remaining in the first half.
Delaware Valley had it fifth turnover of the game after the free kick as Cook lost the ball after a long run. Two Aggie penalties followed and Wilkes had a short field to work with. The drive stalled but Horn boomed a 49-yard field goal for a 12-9 Colonel advantage.
Cook went back to work on the next drive and he capped it with a 39-yard burst into the end zone. Sobchak's extra-point helped the Aggies regain the lead at 16-12 with 7:24 left on the clock.
Horn added another field goal, this time a 40-yarder, to pull the Colonels to within one at 16-15 with 1:41 to go before the break. A long kickoff return by Isaiah Hall put the ball at the Delaware Valley 49-yard line. However, Hatty was stripped on a run for the seventh Aggie turnover of the half. The Colonels drove inside the Aggie 10-yard line in the final seconds. They completed a pass but lost yardage back to the 14-yard line. With no timeouts remaining, Wilkes hurried its field goal team onto the field and Horn booted a 30-yard kick as time expired for an 18-16 Colonel lead at the break.
Delaware Valley took advantage of the second-half kickoff that went out of bounds and marched 57 yards on 10 plays. Cook again did most of the damage including the final one for the touchdown. Sobchak's kick made it 23-18 just five minutes into the stanza.
The game turned into a battle of field position into the fourth when the Aggies faced a fourth-and-five in Wilkes territory. Hatty found Rod Blango opened for 12 yards and a first down at the Colonel 14. They then faced a third down when Hatty and Blango teamed up again, but Blango fumbled and Wilkes recovered at the two-yard line for the eighth turnover of the game.
The Aggie defense forced a three-and-out and the offense took over at their own 42-yard line. They turned to Cook again and he delivered, taking the ball eight times on the 11-play drive. He broke the school single-game rushing record on the drive and scored for a record-tying fourth time on a two-yard run with 6:19 left for a 30-18 advantage
Wilkes drove down to the Aggie 17 but faced a fourth-and-10. George looked for Todd Eagle in the end zone but Troy Green knocked it away to end the threat. Cook then raced off to a 37-yard run to put him well over the 300-yard mark and seal the game.
Delaware Valley racked up 487 yards of total offense, including 352 on the ground. It held the ball for nearly 37 minutes (36:42), including more than 21 minutes in the second half. Hatty finished 15-for-22 for 135 yards. Defensively, Chris James had 10 tackles while Gesswein added nine stops and a sack.
The Colonels, despite all of the opportunities, managed just 215 yards on the afternoon – 109 less than what Cook had on the ground. Zach Trivald netted 79 yards on 18 carries while George was 10-for-18 for 64 yards. Kevin Gerhart had 16 tackles and one interception in the loss.