Newark, Del. — Delaware scored 28 unanswered points after trailing Delaware State for the first time in the series to highlight a 31-13 victory over the Hornets in the season opener for both teams at Tubby Raymond Field this evening. The Hens remain undefeated in the series between the state’s two division I programs (9-0).
UD quarterback Pat Kehoe completed 18-of-28 passes for 186 yards and ran for 30 yards and a score to lead Delaware’s 383-yard offensive attack.
The Hornets passed for 231 yards, including 137 by freshman Tylik Bethea, who completed 10-of-18 throws, including a touchdown, after entering the game following a thumb injury to DSU starter Shane Smith.
Delaware scored first on a 38-yard field goal by Jake Roth with 4:54 left in the first quarter. On the ensuing DSU possession, place-kicker Jose-Romo Martinez capped off an 11-play, 68-yard drive with a 25-yard field goal to tie the game at the 18 second mark of the opening quarter. Smith completed three-of-five passes for 55 yards, including a 28-yard strike to Kwannah Kollie, to highlight the drive.
After the Hornet defense forced the Hens to punt on the ensuing possession, Delaware State put together another long drive to take the lead. The big play was a 39-yard pass from Smith to Jordan Hannah to the Delaware 20. The Hornets gained just seven yards on their next three plays and had to settle for a 30-yard field goal to open up a 6-3 lead at the 7:41 mark of the second quarter.
It marked the first lead for the Hornets in the nine-year history of the series.
Delaware responded with a five-play, 64-yard drive to regain the lead. Kehoe capped off the march with a 21-yard touchdown run. The extra point kick by Roth gave the Hens a 10-6 lead with 6:01 to go before halftime.
Kehoe connected with Owen Tyler on a 24-yard scoring pass with 2:16 left in the second quarter to give the Hens a 16-6 advantage.
UD outscored the Hornets 10-0 in the third quarter, highlighted by a Kehoe to Thyrick Pitts touchdown pass, to give the Hens a 25-6 lead.
Delaware State trailed 31-6 before Bethea threw his first career touchdown pass, a 10-yard strike to fellow freshman Bizzett Woodley with 3:20 left to play, ending a seven-quarter DSU touchdown drought against the Hens.
Bryant Dallas was DSU’s top rusher with 48 yards on 18 carries, while Richard Harris came off the bench to tally 40 yards, including a 28-yard run.
Smith completed four-of-12 passes for 94 yards before the injury.
Delaware State safety Jahad Neibauer led all players with 11 tackles. Two of his nine unassisted tackles were behind the line of scrimmage. Linebacker Brandon Parker added a career-best 10 tackles (seven unassisted), including 2.5 in Delaware’s backfield. Defensive lineman Brandon Carswell, a transfer from Savannah State, blocked two Delaware kicks in the contest.
“I tip my hat to Delaware as the better team tonight,” said Delaware State head coach Rod Milstead. “That’s a talented, well-coached team and we need to play better to make this a competitive series. However, I’m pleased that our guys made some big plays and fought to the end.”
Milstead added, “We did some good things to build on moving forward, but we also made some mental errors that contributed to the loss. I’m still very much excited about our prospects this season.”
The Hornets return to action on Sep. 14 for the home opener against Lincoln (Pa.). The Faith and Community Day contest kicks off at 4 p.m. at Alumni Stadium.
Courtesy: DSU Athletics