DOYLESTOWN (PA) – Delaware Valley University, ranked as high as ninth in Division III polls, received two touchdowns from its special teams while the defense forced three turnovers as the Aggies notched a key, 27-7 home victory over defending Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) champion Stevenson University.
The win kept DelVal undefeated at 4-0 overall and 3-0 in conference play and avenged last year's shutout loss at Stevenson, which fell to 2-2 overall and 2-1 in the MAC. The Aggies are tied with Albright College (4-0, 3-0) for first-place in the MAC and the two will meet at Albright in two weeks.
Last year's game marked the first time that DelVal was kept off a scoreboard since the season opener of 2002, a span of 165 games. The Aggies wasted no time putting points up on Saturday as LaQuille Nesbitt caught the opening kickoff at his own 13, broke a few tackles, crossed the field and went 87 yards for a touchdown. Pat Moran added the extra-point for a 7-0 lead just 14 seconds in.
The Mustangs moved the ball into DelVal territory on their first possession but were forced to punt and the boot was downed at the 19-yard line. The Aggies moved the ball up to midfield and they converted a key fourth-and-one run to keep the drive alive. Later in the possession, they faced a fourth-and-seven from the Stevenson 18 when quarterback Dashawn Darden hit tight end Dan Allen in the back of the end zone for the touchdown. It was the 12th play of a drive that took more than six minutes off the clock. The extra-point attempt failed, but the Aggies had a 13-0 lead with 1:30 left in the first quarter.
Stevenson cut into that advantage on the first play of the second quarter as, on a third-and-eight, quarterback Dan Williams hit Preston Addo over the middle and Addo took care of the rest for a 41-yard touchdown. Ian Gould added the extra-point for a 13-7 ballgame.
A touchback gave DelVal the ball at its own 25 and the offense moved it 14 yards over the first four plays of the drive. On the next call, wideout Aaron Nelson got behind the Stevenson defense and Darden hit him in stride for a 61-yard touchdown. Moran's point-after upped the Aggie lead to 20-7 with 12:44 to go before the intermission.
Stevenson was forced to punt on the ensuing possession and DelVal's Vinnie Nelson caught it at his own 47. He appeared to be stopped multiple times, but he broke free from the pack and then beat the punter to the end zone for a 53-yard touchdown and a 27-7 advantage with 6:37 left in the half.
The Mustangs drove to the Aggie 24 with two-plus minutes left, but defensive lineman Jack Finelli stripped the ball loose on a sack and teammate Christian Snowden was there to recover it to preserve the 20-point lead at the break.
Neither team put points on the board in the second half. DelVal's defense came up with two turnovers as Nick Wright and Sammy Mohr notched interceptions. Stevenson forced one of its own as Kyle Pieet knocked a ball loose and DJ Broxton recovered it deep in Mustang territory.
Stevenson outgained DelVal, 350-311, but the Aggies had a 340-120 advantage in return yards (kickoffs and punts). Darden finished the day 12-for-20 for 129 yards and two scores in the air and he also rushed 14 times for 77 yards. Devauntay Ellis added 94 rushing yards on 18 attempts.
Defensively, Mickael Ockimey had a game-high eight tackles. Wright had six stops and an interception while Mohr had five tackles and a pick.
For the Mustangs, Williams completed 29 of 46 passes for 299 yards and one touchdown but also had two interceptions. Addo finished with seven catches for 118 yards and a score while Devin Salisbury added nine grabs for 67 yards. Cory Pietrzyk led the defensive charge with 10 tackles.
DelVal will travel to FDU-Florham for a MAC game on Friday, September 29 (7 p.m.).