Press release courtesy of Bluehens.com
NEWARK, Del. — The University of Delaware defense was dominating once again and freshman running back Khory Spruill enjoyed the finest day of his young career with two fourth-quarter touchdowns as the Blue Hens ran past Albany in a 22-3 Colonial Athletic Association Football victory at festive Delaware Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Delaware (7-3, 5-2 CAA) won for the fifth time in the last six games and kept its postseason playoff hopes strong heading into the regular season finale next Saturday at longtime rival Villanova.
The Blue Hen defense was fierce as usual on Saturday afternoon, holding Albany to just six first downs – five of them on one first quarter drive – and 120 total yards while forcing four turnovers. The Great Danes (3-7, 1-6 CAA), who could muster only a first-quarter field goal to take a brief 3-0 lead, lost for the sixth straight game. Albany managed just 31 yards rushing on 21 carries and quarterback Will Brunson was 12 of 25 for 83 yards and was intercepted three times and sacked once.
Spruill, pressed into action when starter Kani Kane went down with an injury early in the second half, carried 20 times for a game and career-high 86 yards and scored on touchdowns of six and one-yard over in the final quarter as Delaware pulled away.
On one drive, Spruill carried seven straight times and ran the final 43 yards to cap off a scoring drive. He had entered the game having carried the ball just 22 times this season and just nine times over the last six games.
Delaware junior quarterback Joe Walker (#3 at bottom), who has moved into an all-purpose role as a runner, receiver, and passer, also ran for 85 yards on 11 carries. He went over the 1,000 career-yard mark in the process and became just the fifth quarterback in Delaware history to accumulate both 2,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards rushing in a career.
Defensively, junior safety Ray Jones, senior defensive tackle Blaine Woodson (seven tackles), and senior linebacker Anthony Jackson (#11 below) each intercepted a pass, sophomore linebacker Christian Lohin blocked a punt out of bounds for a safety, and senior linebacker Jalen Kindle recorded a team-high nine tackles.
Sophomore punter Nick Pritchard punted five times and twice pinned Albany inside its own two-yard line with pinpoint accuracy as Jones settled under both punts to down the ball. In additon, junior kicker Frank Raggo converted field goals of 29 yards to end the first and 36 yards late in the third quarter to give Delaware a 6-3 lead.
A special ceremony took place at halftime as Delaware announced the launching of Delaware First: The Campaign for the University of Delaware, the new university-wide fundraising and engagement campaign.
Athletics facilities are a top priority for the campaign with a $60 million goal to renovate Delaware Stadium and build a new state-of-the-art Athletic Center for student-athletes. Additionally, Delaware golf alum Ken Whitney, ’80, and his wife, Liz Whitney, have made a transformational lead gift of $10 million to name the Whitney Athletic Center, pushing the total individual commitments towards this campaign to $23 million and marking the largest individual gift in Delaware Athletics history.
HEAD COACH DANNY ROCCO
“Our defense was really extraordinary today. They (Albany) had only one real drive (first quarter field goal) that they were able to put together. We really played to our strengths. I was comfortable with the 3-3 tie at halftime because we were playing so well defensively, we had finally scored, and we were getting the ball first in the second half. We really responded in the second half, which is something we have done a lot of this season. Our kids really have a lot of talent and resolve. We wore Albany down and that was our objective. On offense, we were at our best when it mattered the most.”
“Our senior class has been extraordinary with how they have been receptive to our message, the themes, and our goals. They have responded and they have led. We really need each other and everybody in our program as we move to make November meaningful. We have to have everyone on board. We have a lot of guys on this team that just want to win and sacrifice for the good of the team.”
“Coach (Rocco) always tells me to be ready every game. It’s really about being ready when your number gets called and today I was ready. It really felt good (to get my first touchdown).”
“We made a few changes today at halftime that really made a difference in the second half. You hold a team to three points and 120 yards, you can’t do a lot better than that. We have a chip on our shoulder. We are going to go up there (next week at Villanova) with confidence and effort and give it our all and keep this thing going.”
• Delaware’s seven wins is the most since the 2013 team went 7-4 but did not make the postseason
• Spruill’s previous career-high rushing game was 39 yards vs. Cornell on Sept. 14
• Delaware’s defensive effort of holding Albany to six first downs and 120 yards was its best performance since holding Delaware State to four first downs and 112 yards as part of a 45-0 win in 2011
• Junior WR Jamie Jarmon returned from a one-game layoff due to an injury and caught a pass to extend his pass-catching streak to 15 straight games
• Raggo, who is now 11 of 14 on field goals this season, also converted two extra points to extend his consecutive made streak to 64 straight, just three shy of the school record
• The Blue Hens went 5-1 at home this season and outscored opponents 154-75
• Delaware blocked a punt for the second straight game and the Hens have now intercepted 10 passes over the last five games while forcing 13 total turnovers
• Delaware heads to Villanova next Saturday, Nov. 18, for the regular season finale. The Hens will be looking for revenge after losing five straight and 10 of the last 11 meetings vs. the Wildcats
• Delaware honored its 18 seniors and their families in a pregame ceremony as part of Senior Day
Photo: BlueHens.com/Mark Campbell