Delaware Valley 56, Widener 28
DOYLESTOWN (PA) – Delaware Valley College scored 42 unanswered points and blanked Division III's second-highest scoring team in the second half as the 12th-ranked Aggies routed archrival Widener University, 56-28, for a perfect 10-0 regular-season, sole possession of the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) championship and the league's automatic berth to the NCAA Division III playoffs.
It is just the third 10-0 record in program history as the 2011 edition joins the 2004 and 2005 squads on the exclusive list. The MAC title, of which a share was assured with last week's win at Lycoming, is the fourth straight while the team will head to the postseason for the third consecutive year.
The win also puts Delaware Valley in a position where it possibly could be one of the top four seeds for the upcoming, 32-team playoff. The Aggies will find out for sure where they are seeded and who they will host for next Saturday's first-round contest when the NCAA holds a webcast at ncaa.com on Sunday evening at 6:00 p.m.
So much was on the line in the game as Widener entered with an 8-1 record and was looking for its first conference crown and NCAA berth since 2007. Instead, they will more than likely compete in an ECAC Bowl Game. Delaware Valley also reclaimed the Keystone Cup, the trophy that is handed out annually to the winner of the contest, after losing it last season.
The Aggies racked up 580 yards of total offense with freshman quarterback Aaron Wilmer leading the way. The rookie completed 17 of 31 passes for 333 yards and four touchdowns and also rushed for 56 yards and a score.
Meanwhile the Delaware Valley defense held the powerful Pride to 319 yards, including just 141 yards in the second half. Widener was averaging 49.1 points and 460 yards heading into Saturday.
The Pride used their strong special teams play to score two touchdowns in a 42-second span in the second quarter for a 28-14 lead. Laquan Robinson, who burned the Aggies for a punt return for a touchdown in last year's upset, did it again as he brought a boot back 51 yards for a score. It was his second punt return for a score this season and the fifth for the team.
The ensuing kickoff got hung up in the wind, bounced on the ground and was fielded poorly by a Delaware Valley player. Widener's Marquis Stewart pounced on the loose ball and the Pride took over at the Aggie 24-yard line. Three plays later, Terrant Morrison scored on a two-yard touchdown run for the 28-14 advantage with 5:22 remaining in the first half.
From there, it was all Delaware Valley. It started with the ensuing drive as the Aggies took over at their 35 and needed just three plays to reach the Widener 18-yard line. They netted seven yards over the next three plays and faced a fourth-and-three when Wilmer hit Rodney Blango with a seven pass to move the chains. Kyle Schuberth rushed for two yards on each of the next carries, the last putting him in the end zone with 1:12 left in the half. Jake Sobchak added the extra point as the Aggies trailed by just seven, 28-21, at the intermission.
The Pride received the opening kickoff of the second half and moved into Delaware Valley territory before stalling. A Kevin Huelster punt trapped the Aggies as it was downed at the six-yard line.
Delaware Valley responded by putting together a 10-play, 94-yard scoring drive to tie the game with 7:51 to go in the third. Twice, it faced third-and-long and twice Wilmer hit Blango. The first was for 18 yards on a third-and-nine and the second was a 51-yard catch-and-run on a third-and-15 that put the ball at Widener seven-yard line. After Wilmer gained two yards with his legs, he then hit Tyler Neal out of the backfield for a five-yard touchdown.
The Pride went three-and-out and the Aggies took over just past midfield. Their ground attack netted all 48 yards on the drive and Wilmer capped it with an 18-yard sprint into the end zone and the team's first lead of the game at 35-28 with 3:15 left in the quarter.
Widener quickly moved downfield and reached the Aggie 12-yard line where it faced a fourth-and-two. However, Chris Haupt's pass to Anthony Clayton fell incomplete and the Pride turned the ball over on downs as the third quarter came to an end.
With Delaware Valley throwing into the wind, the Aggies had a second-and-14 from the eight-yard line. Wilmer found Lewis Vincent on a crossing pattern and Vincent raced 61 yards before being horse-collared at the Widener 31. The penalty on the tackle moved the ball up 15 yards and, after a one-yard run by Kyle Schuberth, Wilmer found Chris Ruiz all along in the end zone for his third passing touchdown of the game. Sobchak's extra-point upped the Delaware Valley advantage to 42-28 with 13:34 on the clock.
On the first play after the ensuing possession, Haupt was intercepted by Ken Fowlkes and the senior linebacker returned it 35 yards to the Pride 13-yard line. The Aggies faced a third-and-10 when Wilmer found another wide-open receiver in the end zone, this time senior Isaiah Hall, for a three-touchdown lead with 12:10 remaining.
After Widener turned the ball over on downs at the Delaware Valley 27-yard line, the Aggie offense went back to work and put together a seven-play, 73-yard scoring drive. Neal capped the drive and put an exclamation point on the win as the senior raced 40 yards for a touchdown and a 56-28 score with 5:47 left in the game. Delaware Valley then just had to kill the clock to celebrate its championship and NCAA berth.
The teams combined for four touchdowns and a 14-14 score in the first 16 minutes of the contest. Widener's first possession saw Morrison cap a 59-yard drive with a 46-yard sprint down the left sideline for the advantage just 3:20 in. Delaware Valley matched it as a nine-play, 56-yard drive culminated in a four-yard scoring run by Schuberth with 8:11 left in the opening quarter.
Later in the first, the Pride needed just a one-play scoring drive a Haupt found a streaking Cedric Clayton for a 47-yard touchdown with 2:31 on the clock. The Aggies responded with a nine-play, 82-yard possession that Wilmer completed with a 24-yard strike to Vincent just 34 seconds into the second quarter. Widener followed with its strong special teams play and a 28-14 lead before Delaware Valley took control and never looked back.
Schuberth carried the ball 24 times for 90 yards and two scores and the sophomore will enter the playoffs just 13 yards of the 1,000-yard mark. Neal had 70 yards and a score on six carries while also catching a touchdown toss. Blango made six grabs for 122 yards while Vincent had four receptions for 121 yards. Defensively, Chris Vega led the team with seven tackles while John Robinson and Ken Fowlkes combined for 11 tackles and two interceptions.
For Widener, Haupt completed 29 of 52 passes for 267 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Cedric Clayton caught 10 passes for 112 yards and score while Dom DePasquale added six grabs for 64 yards. Morrison ran just six times for 54 yards and two touchdowns. Dylan Ditmer paced the defensive effort with 11 tackles while Joe Wojceichowski added nine stops and one sack.