The Colonial Athletic Association has three teams remaining in the playing field, with a Friday clash between Delaware and New Hampshire expected to be the game to watch among the contests this weekend. The Wildcats (9-4, 5-3 CAA) have claimed victory the last two playoff meetings between the two, both coming in back-to-back years against former Hens quarterback Joe Flacco in 2006 and ’07.
Behind another stingy second-half defensive performance, the Wildcats pulled out a victory on the road against Bethune-Cookman last week in the second round of play. In his first start of the season, taking over for injured starter R.J. Toman, sophomore quarterback Kevin Decker threw three second-half touchdowns to lead the Wildcat offense. Decker finished the day completing 23-of-35 passes for 289 yards and three scores.
After a 14-14 halftime score, UNH scored 21 unanswered points. Linebacker Matt Evans lead the Wildcat’s defense with 10 tackles, increasing his CAA-leading total to 145 on the year, which also ranks second in the school record books for tackles in a single-season.
Defensive end Brian McNally recorded a career-high for a single game with 2.5 sacks, tying the single-season school record of 11.5 with former NFL player Dwayne Sabb.
The Blue Hens (11-2, 6-2 CAA) come in with one of the top five offenses in the country, lead by quarterback and CAA Offensive Player of the Year Pat Devlin. Devlin ranks second in the nation in passing yards per game with 215.8 yards per contest and sixth in the nation in passing efficiency (151.3), which ranks tops in the conference.
The Hens exploded for 42 points last Saturday against Lehigh at home to advance, including 21 unanswered points to open up the second half. Devlin connected with four different receivers for touchdowns, tying a career-high for touchdowns in a game and making it 11 thrown over his last three contests. The Hens racked up 450 total yards against a Lehigh defense that ranked 10th in the country in scoring (17.2 points per game) and a team who was riding an eight-game winning streak, the longest by any of the 20 teams who advanced to the playoffs this year.
Under head coach K.C. Keller, Delaware has advanced to the quarterfinals in four of the last nine seasons, including two championship game appearances and a national championship in 2003. With the victory against Berthume-Cookman, the Wildcats won their first December game in school history and have now won a playoff game in the six out of the last seven seasons.
‘Nova Travels to ASU Saturday
Villanova, the defending national champions will go on the road Saturday to face Appalachian State University, who won a record three consecutive national titles from 2005-07.
The Wildcats (9-4, 5-3 CAA), behind quarterback Chris Whitney’s 222 passing yards and four touchdowns dismantled Stephen F. Austin, 54-24 last Saturday, scoring 47 of the game’s final 50 points. After trailing by 14 points after the first frame, the Wildcats burst the bubble with 27 points in the second quarter. In just his second game back after missing the previous seven contests due to injury, standout senior receiver Matt Szczur caught 11 balls for 128 yards and a touchdown to go along with nine rushes for 68 yards. Receiver Norman White caught three touchdowns from Whitney, setting a new school record for touchdown grabs in a single playoff game.
It was the third time in the last seven playoff games that Villanova scored at least 50 points and the road victory was the first ever playoff win on the road in school history.
No. 2 seed W&M falls to Georgia Southern
Riding an 11-game home winning streak going into last weekend’s matchup against Georgia Southern, William & Mary was defeated on its home turf for the first time in nearly two years, 31-15.
With virtually no passing attack, only throwing the ball a total of seven times in the game, quarterback Jaybo Shaw lead the way with 18 rushes for 89 yards and three touchdowns for the Eagles. Running back Robert Brown had a game-high 178 yards rushing on 24 carries.
Although linebacker Daunte Cook racked up 16 tackles to lead the Tribe (8-5, 6-2 CAA), the Eagles ran for 423 yards on the ground against W&M, including four different players for Georgia Southern who ran for 60 or more yards. It’s the most rushing yards gained against a Tribe defense since 1999, when Furman ran for 509.
Scott Cournoyer can be reached at email@example.com.