DOYLESTOWN (PA) – Delaware Valley University quarterback Dashawn Darden threw for 319 yards and accounted for four touchdowns while the Aggie defense intercepted four passes and had a score of their own as they advanced to the NCAA Division III quarterfinals with a 37-15 victory over visiting Husson University.
DelVal remained undefeated, just one of six schools in Division III, as it tied a school-record with its 12th win of the season. The Aggies also extended their school-record winning streak to 16 games dating back to last season. They have reached the quarterfinals for the third time in program history and the first since 2005.
DelVal will meet another undefeated team in College at Brockport next Saturday, November 2 (12:00 p.m.). Brockport pulled away to a 49-28 victory over a Wesley College team that the Aggies defeated 24-19 in the season opener. The NCAA does not officially announce the hosts for the next round until Sunday evening (check DelVal athletics social media and website on Sunday night for more information).
For Husson, its top season in program history came to an end on Saturday as the Eagles dropped to 10-2. One of those wins was an upset victory over Springfield College in the opening round, the first-ever NCAA playoff win for Husson.
Darden led an Aggie offense that racked up 502 yards on the afternoon (319 passing, 183 rushing). He completed 14 of 29 passes, including touchdown tosses of 13, 57 and 36 yards. He also rushed six times for 33 yards, including a 10-yard sprint into the end zone.
Meanwhile, the DelVal defense, which entered the game ranked sixth in the country with 21 interceptions, added four more to its total. One was returned for a touchdown, the sixth defensive touchdown recorded by the Aggies. The Eagles managed just 241 yards on the day.
DelVal took over at its own 38-yard line on its second possession of the day and moved the ball to midfield when Darden found Marquise Ellis for a 35-yard reception. Following a two-yard gain on the ground, Darden hit tight end Dan Allen in the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown. Colin Fasolka added the extra-point for a 7-0 lead midway through the opening quarter.
The Aggies forced a punt on Husson's next drive, but Vinnie Nelson fumbled a fair catch attempt and the Eagles' Quintarian Brown recovered it at his own 43. They moved the ball to the DelVal 31-yard line, but quarterback Cory Brandon was picked off by a diving Jarren McBryde at the nine.
Later in the half, the Aggies went on a four-play, 84-yard drive. Tight end Ryan Norton had a key 25-yard, catch-and-run on a third-and-eight to keep the drive alive. Then on the next play, Darden found Khalil Roane out of the backfield and Roane beat a pair of defenders before diving into the end zone to complete the 57-yard touchdown. The point-after attempt failed, leaving DelVal with a 13-0 lead just 46 seconds into the second quarter.
The Aggies had a final possession in the first half as they took over at their own 48 with 2:29 remaining. They moved the ball to the Husson 25 and a pass interference call put the ball at the 10-yard line for a first-and-goal. Darden called his own number and he eluded defenders, en route to the end zone and a 19-0 advantage just a minute after the drive began.
The DelVal defense kept the nation's leading rusher, John Smith, in check in the first half as he managed just 36 yards on 13 carries. However, Smith got going on the opening drive of the second half as he notched 58 of the team's 71 yards, including the final nine for the touchdown. Devin Pickett's extra-point pulled the Eagles to within 12, 19-7, with 10:50 left in the third quarter.
However, the Aggies' LaQuille Nesbitt took the ensuing kickoff and returned it 64 yards to the Husson 22. They later had a second-and-goal from the two when Nesbitt got the carry on a jet sweep and found his way into the end zone for a 26-7 score with 8:35 remaining in the third.
A penalty on the kickoff put the Eagles back at their own 10-yard line. On the first play, Brandon had a pass intercepted by Jalen Mayes and the DelVal cornerback returned it 22 yards for a touchdown. It came just 18 seconds after Nesbitt's score and upped the Aggie lead to 31-7.
DelVal got its final score with 5:20 to go in the contest as Darden and Allen teamed up again, this time for a 36-yard touchdown. Husson's remaining points came on the ensuing kickoff as Ty Bassett returned it 97 yards for a score. Bassett then added a two-point conversion run for the 37-15 final.
Allen caught four passes for 100 yards and two scores for DelVal while Marquise Ellis had three catches for 74 yards while Roane had two grabs for 92 yards and a score as well as 30 yards on one carry. Devauntay Ellis led the ground attack with 100 yards on 18 rushes.
Defensively, Nicholas DiGati led the Aggie attack with 11 tackles. Nick Wright and Shawn Miller added eight tackles apiece with Wright picking off a pass as well. Mayes had five stops to go along with his pick-six. McBryde finished with two interceptions and Vincent DiLeo had all three of the team's sacks.
For Husson, Smith finished the day with 32 carries for 161 yards and one touchdown. The senior ended his standout career as Division III's fourth all-time leading rusher with 7,205 yards (2,242 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2017). Brandon was 10-for-20 for 97 yards and four interceptions. Frank Curran and Elin Suazo had seven tackles apiece while Quan Soyini notched five tackles and one interception.