First State Rivalry? Turnover Town Blowout!
Newark, Delaware – Four Delaware State Hornet intercepted passes and a fumble added fuel to the fire for the Fighting Blue Hens of Delaware who burned the Hornets’ nest early in a 56-14 blow-out in the seventh game between the two Delaware FCS programs in the First State Rivalry. It was the opener of our 2016 www.collegefootballfan.com season and our first of three college football games within a 72-hour period.
Blue Hen RB Wes Hills rushed for a career best 212 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns. Thomas Jefferson of Passaic (NJ) Tech added 70 yards on the ground, and workhorse Jalen Randolph got the tough yards scoring two TDs on 11 carries for 55 yards. The home team Hens drove 74 yards on the opening drive for Randolph’s two-yard run. A pick by UD DE John Nassib got the ball back on DSU’s first series, and QB Joe Walker’s one-yard plunge capped the 48-yard drive for a quick 14-0 Delaware lead before the first stanza ended. The Hornets could not move the ball without turning it over. Starting QB Dan Epperson was replaced by Kobie Lain who fumbled the ball away on his first series.
In the second period, Hills ran up the middle for 13 yards before lunging over the goal line for another UD score. After a DSU Hornet punt, Hills started with the ball from the wildcat formation and raced around the left for a 59-yard TD run. So much for this First State Rivalry. The Turnover Town Blow-out continued when LB Anthony Jackson picked off another Epperson pass to preserve the 28-0 lead entering the halftime intermission.
In the third, DSU’s offense had no answer in the First State Rivalry turned into the Town Turnover Blow-out. After receiving a punt, neither did the defense. Randolph capped a 70-yard Blue Hen drive with a four-yard scoring jaunt. Jackson’s second INT resulted in a 25-yard TD pass to Diante Cherry from Joe Walker ( 6 of 9,66 yards, 1 TD). The game was basically sealed at 42-0 with 9:38 left in the third, Ho-hum. The Hornets finally sustained a drive with Epperson tossing a six-yard pass to Mason Rutherford. Second team QB Blake Rankin filled in for the Blue Hens’ Walker and led them 48 yards before finding TE Chris Scarff in the back of the end zone for a 10-yard TD pass.
To start the fourth, this Hornet offensive series ended quickly as LB Troy Reeder picked Epperson and closed out the UD scoring with a 13-yard interception return. The practice scrimmage began and DSU scored for the second time as Epperson (13 of 26, 4 INTs, 118 yards) completed a 13-yard pass to Bryceon Allenye in the end zone to close out the score at 56-14 with 11:49 remaining. I’d seen enough along with my niece Kassie and her friends Kelsey and Cassie, all Delaware grads class of 2015. We left for beers and ice cream at the UD Cremery near where we had parked.
It was a letdown of a game for what’s titled the First State Rivalry. Delaware State was 1-10 in 2015 and evidently still has a lot work ahead of them. A UD fan, Lutz, that I got to meet during the game, was asked by his son whom he had call to give an update, “Was Delaware that good, or was DSU that bad?” He answered, “Yes.” Good answer. It will be a few games before anyone will really know how good UD is. They play at Lafayette, another 1-10 team from last year, next Saturday. A bigger test for them will come a week later at FBS Wake Forest before settling into their Colonial Athletic Association schedule at James Madison, a perennial conference contender. Delaware State will host the Monmouth Hawks next week. I am meeting up with friends Brian Donnelly and his sister Eileen in Philadelphia for the Army-Temple game at “the Linc”. Hopefully, the Cadets and Owls will both be up for a battle.
Extra points: DE John Nassib’s early INT confirmed we’d now seen four Nassibs play intercollegiate football. His brother Ryan at Syracuse now with the Giants, his brother who graduated Penn State last year now with the Browns, and his father Gil who we saw in our first of all 508 games when he played for the Delaware national champs in 1979 as a tight end with the Blue Hens in a 49-14 win at Rhode Island. I went to that game with Kassie’s parents – my sister Mary Kay and then boy friend Gunther – when they were attending URI as students. You do this long enough…
Soph Vinny Papale, son of Vince, the former Eagle WR who the movie “Invincible” was about, returns punts for the Blue Hens.