DOYLESTOWN (PA) – Brett Renzi kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired as The College at Brockport survived a wild Delaware Valley University comeback and downed the host Aggies, 31-28, in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III playoffs.
The Golden Eagles improved to 13-0 and advanced to the semifinals for the first time in school history. They are also the first team from the East Region to reach the Final Four since 2006. They will travel to Texas to take on defending national champion Mary Hardin-Baylor next Saturday, December 9.
For DelVal, one of the top seasons in program history came to a heartbreaking end as did a school-record 16-game winning streak. The Aggies finished with a 12-1 record, a Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) championship, a ranking as high as fifth in the country and the school's third trip to the NCAA quarterfinals (2004 and 2005).
DelVal found itself down 28-7 heading into the fourth quarter, but the Aggies scored three touchdowns in a five-minute span. The capper was a 57-yard, highlight-reel run by quarterback Dashawn Darden to tie the game at 28-28 with 9:41 remaining to send the home crowd into a frenzy.
The teams combined for three punts on the next three possessions. Brockport's second drive stalled at its own 48 but Eric Yaegar got off a punt that was downed at the DelVal three-yard line with 3:01 remaining. The Aggies advanced the ball to their own 23, but a pair of losses on the next two plays and a sack of Darden put the ball back to the 10. Following a punt and short return, the Golden Eagles took over at the DelVal 48-yard line with 55 seconds left.
Brockport quarterback Joe Germinerio completed a two-yard pass before finding Jerry Thompson for an 11-yard reception and then running back Justin Morrison for 13 yards on a screen to put the ball at the Aggie 22. Morrison followed with a six-yard run and the Golden Eagles called timeout with two seconds to go. DelVal called back-to-back timeouts to try to freeze Renzi but he put the 33-yard kick dead center through the uprights for his 11th field goal of the year and a trip to the national semifinals.
Brockport got off to a great start as it stopped DelVal deep in its territory on the first possession of the game and a punt after a high snap gave the Golden Eagles the ball at the Aggie 30. They then found the end zone six plays later as Germinerio scored on a one-yard keeper for an early 7-0 lead.
The teams traded turnovers with DelVal getting theirs on a strip sack by Michael Ockimey that was recovered by Nick Wright at the Brockport 48. The Aggies moved the ball 14 yards on four plays before a sack on fourth-down stopped the threat.
The Golden Eagles took over on their own 43-yard line and drove 57 yards on six plays. The final 16 came on a Germinerio pass to Joseph Ortiz for a touchdown and a 14-0 Golden Eagles' lead with 7:10 left in the opening quarter.
Three minutes later, DelVal cut its deficit in half thanks to wideout Marquis Ellis. He caught a short pass from Darden on a third-and-10, made a defender miss and went down the sideline for a 68-yard touchdown and a 14-7 score.
It remained a seven-point game until late in the half when Matt Szymanski forced a fumble and Nathaniel Keith III recovered it to give Brockport the ball at its own 37 with 1:44 remaining. The offense moved the ball down to the one and Tyree Brown got the final yard on a wildcat run and a 21-7 advantage with 29 ticks before the intermission.
The Golden Eagles got the ball to start the second half and used a flea-flicker on the first play as Germinerio hit Daquan Hubbard for a 45-yard pass. Three plays later, Germinerio called his own number and scored from seven yards out for a 28-7 Brockport lead just 59 seconds into the half.
Renzi missed a 45-yard field goal late in the third quarter and the Aggies moved the ball to the Golden Eagle 25-yard line as the quarter came to an end. On the first play of the fourth, Darden hit Ellis for a 25-yard touchdown catch and Pat Moran added the extra-point to pull them to within 14 at 28-14.
DelVal then perfectly executed a surprise onsides kick that was recovered by Dan Allen all the way down at the Brockport 44-yard line. On third-and-two, Devauntay Ellis sprinted for a 24-yard run to put the ball at the 12. Then it was Darden and Marquis Ellis again, this time for a 12-yard score and a 28-21 ballgame with 13 minutes remaining.
The Golden Eagles went three-and-out and the Aggies took over at their own 32. They converted a third-down play to move the ball to the 43. On the next play, Darden went back to pass and was forced to scramble up the middle. He cut towards the left sideline, broke two tackles, somehow stayed inbounds and reached the end zone before being brought down for a 57-yard touchdown. Moran's extra-point made it a brand new game at 28-28.
However, Frenzi's walk-off field goal sent the visiting sideline into a wild celebration and broke the hearts of the Aggies.
Both teams entered the game ranked in the top 15 in defense, scoring and yardage, but the offenses, which were highly-ranked as well, racked up a combined 59 points and 865 yards. For DelVal, the offense netted 447 yards with 275 in the air and 172 on the ground (Brockport was second in rushing defense allowing just 31 yards per game). Darden completed 17 of 30 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 80 yards and a score. Devauntay Ellis netted 92 yards on 20 carries while Marquis Ellis had career-highs of seven catches for 184 yards and three touchdowns.
The Aggie defense was led by senior safety Shawn Miller as the All-American candidate notched 15 tackles, including 12 solo. Wright had seven stops and a fumble recovery.
For Brockport, Germinerio was 23-for-41 for 297 yards and a touchdown as well as two rushing scores. Morrison ran for 78 yards on 13 touches. Ortiz caught 11 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown while Hubbard made five grabs for 125 yards. Defensively, Keith III had 14 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Austin Dean added nine tackles and two sacks as the Golden Eagles had seven sacks on the day.