Press release from BlueHens.com:
VILLANOVA, Pa. — This time, a slow start was just way too much to overcome for the University of Delaware football team.
Delaware, playing longtime rival Villanova in its annual Battle of the Blue rivalry, fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter and could never recover in falling to the Wildcats by a 28-7 verdict at soggy Villanova Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The Blue Hens (7-4, 5-3 Colonial Athletic Association) fell to Villanova for the sixth straight time and for the 11th time in the last 12 seasons. Still, Delaware will hold out slim hopes of earning an at-large spot in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. The 24-team field will be announced live at 11 a.m. on ESPNU.
If Saturday was indeed the final game of the 2017 campaign, it was a year in which the Blue Hens made great strides under first-year head coach Danny Rocco. Delaware nearly equaled the win total from the previous two years and won seven games for the first time since the 2014 season. The five wins in conference play marked the best season for the Hens since 2011 when the team also went 7-4 overall and 5-3 in league play.
The Blue Hens, who finished the regular season having won five of the final seven games, could not generate enough offense to keep up with Villanova, which had struggled offensively itself for most of the season. The Wildcats (5-6, 3-5 CAA) snapped a four-game losing streak.
Delaware fell behind 14-0 after the first quarter and was down 28-0 after Villanova scored twice in the third stanza. Earlier this season, the Hens came back from a 20-7 halftime deficit to Stony Brook, 10-0 to Maine, and 3-0 to Albany before mounting comebacks. This time, the comeback never materialized.
Delaware finished with more first downs (18 to 16) and total yardage (336 to 322) than Villanova but managed just 44 yards in the first quarter and just 116 in the opening half. The Hens were also hurt by two interceptions, including one in the first quarter when Villanova linebacker Jeff Steeb picked off a pass by J.P. Caruso and sprinted into the end zone untouched from 38 yards out to give VU a 14-0 lead six minutes into the game.
Curuso (above left) hit on 21 of 33 passes for a career-high 197 yards and an 11-yard touchdown strike to Jamie Jarmon with 59 seconds left in the game to avoid the shutout. Jarmon caught five passes for 26 yards while Vinny Papale had three catches for 70 yards and Joe Walker hauled in three passes for 79 yards. Walker also had a team-high 37 yards rushing and threw an 18-yard pass.
Defensively, Delaware allowed a season-high 261 yards rushing as Villanova running back Aaron Forbes ran for 140 yards. Quarterback Jack Schetelich threw two touchdown passes to Taurus Phillips and ran for another score.
Blue Hen safety Nasir Adderley led the Hens with 12 tackles and forced a fumble while senior defensive tackle Blaine Woodson made 11 stops, including sack.
Photo: Mark Campbell/bluehens.com