First State Cup: First Half Blog
Dearly beloved, we have gathered here again in scenic downtown Newark for the First State Cup game between Delaware State University and University of Delaware.
I will not use the term “Route 1 Rivalry” because 1) Freddog hates that name 2) Neither one of these teams is actually located on Route 1.
Last year, UD walked all over DSU in a 45-0 in a game that was over by the 2nd quarter. UD has won the First State Cup, the prize for the winner, every year it’s been given out, so DSU has its work cut out for them. So let’s go ahead and talk in bullet points.
--- DSU gets the ball first and embarks on an impressive drive with quarterback Nick Elko targeting Justin Wilson – who missed last year’s game with an injury – a lot. The Hornets get into field goal range, but Mitchell Ward’s field goal is blocked and returned to UD’s 43 yard line. Hornets have to cash in chances like that to have any shot.
--- Del. State’s defense forces a three-and-out on UD’s first drive. That’s news because the Hornets did not force many of those in last year’s game.
--- Elko again leads the Hornets on an impressive drive into the Blue Hens’ red zone, but on 3rd and 7, Elko’s pass goes off Ryan Langdon’s hands and is snatched by UD’s Ricky Tunstall, who weaves his way down the field for a 91-yard score. To this point, the Hornets offense has dominated but have zip to show for it.
--- UD has their second offensive possession with 1:18 left in the first quarter. They march right down the field and get a 14-yard pass from Trent Hurley to Michael Johnson. That drive looked like the Delaware team that rolled it up on DSU last year.
--- The real demoralizing touchdown came on UD’s next possession. The Hornets managed to force a punt, but fell asleep and punter Rauley Zaragoza rambled off left end on a fake punt giving Delaware a fresh set of downs. UD then pounds it in with a 1-yard sneak to go up 21-0. Game is in danger of getting away from DSU.
--- It sounds a bit strange, but the Hornets get a big break when a bad snap goes over punter Marco Kano’s head. Kano recovered the ball and got the punt away and then drew a flag against UD for roughing the kicker.
With a fresh set of downs, Elko, who has been moving very well in the pocket today, finds Justin Brewton, who makes a spectacular one-handed grab to keep the drive alive. Elko then hits Wilson on a slant and DSU gets its first points of the game.
--- Having seen six quarters from the Hornets, I can tell you this, Coach Kermit Blount has this team ready to play. They may not have the talent to match up with UD, but they are playing very physical. Last year, DSU looked helpless in this game. This year, they look a lot more competitive.
--- I know in football today we are trying to protect the players. We know how devastating concussions are and I’m all for preventing them. But sometimes, you see officials make calls that lead you to wonder why the hell they don’t just go the extra mile and turn it into flag football.
Example: DSU’s Davon Moore laid a tremendous lick on Delaware’s Rob Jones, knocking Jones’ helmet off. Moore led with the shoulder, didn’t launch himself and hammered Jones right in the chest. Out comes the flag for unnecessary roughness. Just a horrendous call, an official reacting to Jones’ helmet popping off.
Needless to say, UD was able to turn that call into points, with Tim Donnelly, subbing for Hurley who took some serious licks in the first half, finding Jerel Harrison with a 6-yard pass to give UD a 28-7 lead at halftime.
--- I must say I had a good laugh with UD fans complaining about how hard DSU was hitting in the first half. “They’re a dirty team!” I could hear one yell. My question is, if DSU is hitting UD too hard, does that mean UD has an excuse to take them off the schedule again?
--- DSU has done a good job stopping Andrew Pierce, who ran all over the Hornets last year. UD is up three scores despite not playing great in the first half. DSU has shot themselves in the foot several times and the Blue Hens have taken advantage.
--- Stadium is cleared at halftime with a storm right over our heads. Lighting doesn’t really come, but thunder has definitely been rumbling.
--- Press box note that might only interest me: Two scouts from the NFL were here watching this game, one of whom was Raleigh McKenzie, the former member of the Washington Redskins fabled “Hogs” in the late 80s-early 90s. I know McKenzie was here because I ended up sitting in his seat after he took somebody else’s spot. But nobody was going to tell McKenzie, who was scouting for the Raiders, to move because he is still a massive dude. Alas, I did not see him wearing his Super Bowl rings.
More to come, hopefully, in the second half. Game won’t be restarted until 30 minutes after the last bit of lightning is gone.