Blue Hen offense goes cold as 5-game win streak is snapped at Stony Brook 17-3

Sophomore running back DaJoun Lee finished with a team-high 71 yards on 15 carries for Delaware. Delaware sports information/Jordan Burgess

STONY BROOK, N.Y. — It felt almost like a playoff game.

The temperature was in the 40s, the wind was howling and for almost 30 minutes the defenses of nationally-ranked Delaware and Stony Brook dominated the other.

But the No. 11 Blue Hens’ offense never did come to life and the No. 12 Seawolves found the end zone a couple times in the second half as Stony Brook silenced Delaware, 17-3, in a blustery Colonial Athletic Association football showdown at LaVelle Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for the Hens (5-2 CAA, 7-3 overall), whose NCAA FCS Division I playoff hopes may now rest on beating Villanova next Saturday in their regular-season finale.

Delaware, which hosts the rival Wildcats on Saturday at noon, has lost six straight to Villanova and 11 of the last 12 meetings.

“Like I said in the locker room after the game, we’ve got a one-game season,” said Hens’ coach Danny Rocco. “That is what it is. We’ve got to be able to rebound here this week moving forward.

“I think eight wins is definitive (for making the playoffs). I’ve felt that from the very beginning.”

Blue Hen linebacker Ray Jones reacts to a defensive stop in Saturday’s game at Stony Brook. Delaware sports information/Jordan Burgess

On a day when the Hens were outgained 400 yards to 197, they did have four red-zone opportunities. But none of their drives finished inside the Seawolves’ 11 and when Frank Raggo made only a fourth-quarter field goal out of three attempts, Delaware didn’t have much to show for its opportunities.

“I think the most disappointing thing in the game was, offensively, we just never got anything that we could hang our hat on,” said Rocco. “We had some things in this week that we thought would generate some offense in the run game. They sniffed them out right from the very beginning and put us our heels a little bit.

“I don’t think Pat (Kehoe) played very well holistically,” Rocco said about his quarterback. “He held the ball on fourth down twice. … didn’t make a throw down the field and just things like that. I don’t know exactly where that needs to be communicated going forward this week.”

Kehoe completed just 9-of-27 passes for 103 yards with an interception. He was also sacked four times for losses totaling 34 yards.

One of the few bright spots for the Hens offensively was the play of sophomore DeJoun Lee. He ran for a team-high 71 yards on 15 carries while adding a 43-yard kickoff return.

“We knew that they were a really good red-zone defense,” said senior center Mario Farinella. “But we’ve got to score points, at the end of the day. … We’ve got to put six on the board instead of putting it in the hands of the kickers. We’ve got to finish our drives.

“You’ve got to stay ahead of the sticks. We weren’t able to do that today.”

Defensively, Delaware did some good things.

Stony Brook only took a 3-0 lead when it kicked a short field goal on the final play of the second quarter.

The Seawolves finally got the game’s first touchdown early in the third quarter. On a fourth-and-eight from the 27, QB Joe Carbone (16-for-23, 178 yards, one interception) threw up a pass over the middle that receiver Donavin Washington pulled in to give Stony Brook a 10-0 lead.

But the Seawolves also have the top two running backs in the league and eventually they seemed to wear down the Hens. Donald Liotine (27 carries-170 yards) gave Stony Brook some insurance when he burst up the middle for a 33-yard touchdown run with 5:27 left in the game.

“Every one of us has to look ourselves in the mirror and just figure out how we can get better,” said safety Nasir Adderley, who finished with a game-high 13 tackles and an interception. “They’re a physical team but, at the same time, that’s what we pride ourselves on doing. We’re physical. We enjoy that competition and going to war.”

As usual in the CAA, there’s a lot to be decided in the final weekend of the regular season next weekend.

Maine (6-1 CAA, 6-3 overall) is now alone in first place in the league standings while Delaware is one of three teams that is 5-2, 7-3. Rocco believes that the CAA will put five teams in the playoffs, with a couple of them probably having 7-4 records.

With Villanova scuffling along at 1-6 CAA, 4-6, the Hens should probably be favored next Saturday. But given their recent history with the Wildcats, Delaware’s players know better.

“We’ve got to get that ‘W,’” said Adderley, one of 29 seniors on the roster. “They want to knock us off. It’s always been a big rivalry. They don’t have anything to lose. We’ve got to be able to control our own destiny.

“We’ve got a chip on our shoulders. I mean Villanova’s always circled on the schedule, especially at this time of year when we’ve got playoffs at stake. We’re going to be ready.”

Extra points

While Saturday’s game marked the first time Delaware was held without a touchdown this season, its only TD against North Dakota State as scored by the defense. … Four Hens finished in double figures in tackles. Besides Adderley, that group included Caleb Ashworth (12), Troy Reeder (11) and Cam Kitchen (10). … Colby Reeder added a fumble recovery. … Tight end Charles Scarff had a team-high 43 yards on five catches. … Delaware wore its all-white uniforms in the game for the first time since losing to North Dakota State.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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