Blue Hens force five turnovers, knock off Albany 33-17

ALBANY, N.Y. — The Delaware football team proved Saturday afternoon that it knows a little about forcing turnovers, too.

Facing an Albany team that entered the game ranked second nationally in turnover margin with an impressive plus-17 mark, the Blue Hens forced five turnovers themselves and the result was a satisfying 33-17 Colonial Athletic Association victory at Casey Stadium.

The Hens (4-5, 2-4 CAA), who turned the ball over just once and had a 22-minute advantage in time of possession, gave interim head coach Dennis Dottin-Carter his second straight victory.

Delaware recovered three fumbles, intercepted two passes, and used a punishing ground attack to win for the second straight time at Albany. The Hens also scored their highest point total in a road game since the 2013 season.

The Blue Hens’ Wes Hills gains yardage in Saturday’s win. (Albany sports information/Bill Ziskin)

The Blue Hens’ Wes Hills gains yardage in Saturday’s win. (Albany sports information/Bill Ziskin)

Delaware’s Wes Hills, who played for the first time since Oct. 22 due to a hamstring injury, ran for a game-high 122 yards and scored two touchdowns, including a sensational 44-yard jaunt in the second quarter.Thomas Jefferson added another 73 yards and a touchdown on the ground as the Hens piled up 260 rushing yards,

Albany (5-4, 2-4 CAA), which lost for the fourth time in the last five games, likely had its postseason playoff hopes dashed as the Great Danes managed just seven first downs and 236 total yards, including only 15 total yards the entire second half.

“We were very opportunistic today,” said Dottin-Carter, whose team did enter the game with a +13 mark this season to rank No. 3 in the CAA. “We knew what was coming and we took advantage when it was there. We never gave up, we never stopped.

LB Troy Reeder intercepted a pass and recovered two fumbles. (Albany sports information/Bill Ziskin)

LB Troy Reeder intercepted a pass and recovered two fumbles. (Albany sports information/Bill Ziskin)

“I am so proud of our guys. They worked their butts off in practice this week, they were focused, and they were ready to go.”

Sophomore linebacker Troy Reeder, a first-year transfer from Penn State, was all over the field for the Hens. In addition to his five tackles, he intercepted a pass, recovered a fumble, and later recovered another fumble that he forced.

Sophomore cornerback Nasir Adderley also led the way as he made five tackles and scored his first career touchdown when he stepped in front of a pass in the flat and raced 22 yards for a touchdown to give Delaware a 28-17 lead midway through the third quarter.

“That’s one of the things we always talk about in the meeting room,” Reeder said about Delaware’s penchant for causing turnovers. “We have a board in the room listing who has all the turnovers. It’s a big emphasis for us and today we saw that as a challenge. This is a tribute to our defense. We showed our maturity in the way we finished today.”

Albany scored on its first three possessions to take a 17-7 lead early in the second quarter before the Hens rallied. Running back Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks, the CAA’s leading rusher, finished with 91 yards on 17 carries, below his average of 122.6 yards per game.

Hills scored for a second time on a six-yard burst with 15 seconds left in the half to cut the deficit to 17-14. That drive was set up when Reeder forced a fumble with a hard hit and cornerback Tenny Adewusi recovered at the Albany 46.

Delaware took control of the game with a dominating third quarter.

After Adderley returned the opening kickoff 45 yards, the Hens used a 13-play drive to take the lead for good at 21-17 when Jefferson scored on a one-yard dive with 6:48 left in the stanza. Just three plays later, Adderley came up with his big pick-six on a third down play to increase the Blue Hen lead to 28-17.

“I will remember that play for a long time,” said Adderley, who also had an interception in last week’s 20-6 win over Towson. “When everyone is doing his job and we are swarming on defense, it shows what we are capable of. We can win a lot of games playing that way.”

“We had some missteps in the first half with some miscommunication issues,” said Dottin-Carter. “But at halftime, our guys were locked in and focused. We came out and got the big kickoff return and got the ball rolling. Our special teams were great all day and we ran the ball about as well as we can. The interception was a huge play and a great momentum swing.”

Delaware continued its control of the game in the final quarter, getting a Frank Raggo 32-yard field goal with 12:35 left and a sack by Bilal Nichols in the end zone for a safety sealed the victory.

The Hens, who held possession for 13:18 in the final quarter, then got the ball back and ran out the clock. Delaware outgained Albany 53-8 in the third quarter and 89-7 in the final stanza.

Extra points

Delaware won its first road game in four tries this season. … The 33 points were the most scored by Delaware on the road since a 35-34 loss to Villanova on Nov. 23, 2013. … Hills, who has missed three games due to injuries this year, recorded his third 100-yard rushing effort of the season and the seventh of his career. “It’s been frustrating but I finally felt like myself today,” said Hills. … The Hens did not throw an incompletion, going 8 for 8 as QB Joe Walker went 7 for 7 for 41 yards and WR Diante Cherry completed his only pass attempt of the day for 15 yards to Walker on a trick play. … Senior safety Simba Gwashavanhu made his first start of the season and responded with a team-high eight tackles and forced a fumble. He started in place of sophomore Ray Jones, who missed his first career game due to an injury. … Delaware now has 15 interceptions this season, its highest total since the 2011 team picked off 18 passes.

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