Route 1 Rivalry: DSU vs. UD – 1st Half Blog
Newark — If you followed how I did this last week, you’ll know the drill. I will post once after the first half and post one after the second half. Hopefully a lot sooner than I did last week.
It’s a pretty festive atmosphere here at Tubby Raymond Field at Delaware Stadium in scenic downtown Newark. The Delaware Blue Hens (1-1) are wearing their usual blue jerseys with gold pants, while the Delaware State Hornets (2-0) are wearing their gray jerseys and gray pants with red trim.
The big news for this game is the absence of DSU’s top receiving threat, Justin Wilson. A First Team All-MEAC performer, Wilson hurt his ankle last week against Shaw University and was walking after the game with the aid of crutches. The press box is across the field from the DSU sideline but I’m pretty sure I saw Justin sitting on the bench with a crutch at his side.
Both of these teams enter this game coming off narrower-than-we-would-have-liked wins over Division II schools: UD beat West Chester 28-17, while DSU needed a last-minute touchdown to defeat Shaw.
It’ll be interesting to see how UD comes out in this one, given the less-than-impressive win against West Chester and getting shellacked by Navy in week 1, 40-17.
The teams are fired up and ready to go, and I got myself ready to go by bumping some Rick Ross in the headphones, “I’m not a star/somebody lied I spent a millie on the car/it come alive/ never feed it after dark/gotta treat it like a gremlin”
Let’s get it on!
It took a while for the two teams to take the field, as the Blue Hens employed a lot of fanfare before their entrance. While most of the stands are packed with UD fans, the Hornets managed to draw a dedicated section of red-clad DSU fans, along with the band.
DSU went three-and-out on its first drive, and then the Blue Hen offense came out and made things look very easy. UD drove 80 yards on only five plays, culminating in Tim Donnelly hitting a wide-open Colin Naugle for a 43-yard touchdown to put the Hens up 7-0. There wasn’t a Hornet within 10 yards of Naugle, who caught two passes on the drive.
The Hornets best play of the quarter was a Marco Kano punt that was downed at the Blue Hens’ 4-yard-line. But UD again made it look easy on offense, driving 96 yards on 14 plays punctuated by an Andrew Pierce 3-yard run.
The Hens are playing at a different speed and the Hornets can’t keep up at this point.
Things got worse for DSU when Nick Elko floated a pass over the middle that was intercepted by Ricky Tunstall. The only negative play for the Hens was a holding penalty on right guard Will Nagle. Otherwise, it’s been as perfect as you can get for UD: they’ve outgained DSU 219 to 12 and only faced two third downs. The DSU defense has to figure out how to get off the field.
Well, DSU finally forced UD into a fourth down situation. Unfortunately for them, the Blue Hens decided to go for it and Tim Donnelly found Bobby Russo to pick up the first down. Donnelly, who has completed 8-of-9 passes, then found Nihja White for an 11-yard touchdown strike to go up 21-0.
The DSU offense has to get something done here, if nothing else to give their defense a break. The Hornets finally got their first first down of the game on an Elko to Darius Jackson pass. But Jaashawn Jones fumbled the handoff, UD’s Jake Giusti picked up the loose change and ran 32 yards to the house to put the Hens up 28-0.
If this were a Madden game, the Hornets might be ready to hit the “Reset” button at this point and start over again.
It looked like they had done just that, as Elko connected with Travis Tarpley and Milton Williams for first downs. But the Hens again summoned their turnover touch, and caused DSU’s Josh Bailey to fumble. The Hens recovered, and 47 seconds later, Pierce was in the end zone for the second time.
UD is having one of those “anything, anytime” games, as I like to call them: the Hens are doing anything they want, anytime they want to do it. They’ve been stopped exactly twice this first half: once with 3:51 left in the quarter and up 35-0, the second when they took a knee to end the half.
As for DSU, the only success they have had on offense is when they’ve spread the field with five WRs, “Varsity Blues”-style (where’s the announcer to say, “Look at all those receivers!”). That and Kano has been Sam Koch-esque with his punts.
Other than that, it’s been a LOOOONG first half for the guys from Dover.