Blue Hens get past Lafayette in the rain

NEWARK — Delaware’s sputtering offense certainly isn’t out of the woods just yet.

But the Blue Hens’ defense kept Lafayette out of the end zone, freshman kicker Frank Raggo booted four field goals and that was good enough to give Delaware a 19-9 win over the stubborn Leopards at rainy Delaware Stadium on Saturday night.

In a contest in which the start of the second half was delayed over an hour by lightning, the Hens (1-1) gave freshman quarterback Joe Walker a victory in his debut as a starting quarterback. Walker did most of his damage with his legs, running for 68 yards on 11 carries, including the game’s only touchdown.

Delaware's Kareem Williams hurdles a Lafayette defender in Saturday night's game. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell).

Delaware’s Kareem Williams hurdles a Lafayette defender in Saturday night’s game. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell).

The Hens didn’t have the victory safely in hand until Raggo kicked a 22-yard field goal to give Delaware its 10-point lead with only 28 seconds left in the game. A redshirt freshman, the field goals were the first of Raggo’s career.

Clinging to a 13-9 lead in the fourth quarter, Delaware put together a 10-play, 85-yard drive that finished with another Raggo field goal. The field goal stretched the Hens’ advantage to 16-9 with 6:27 remaining in the game.

“Nothing’s easy,” said coach Dave Brock. “It was a really challenging night — very challenging weather-wise.

“I thought we played with incredible passion on defense. I thought we played fast and physical. We contested virtually everything we did. I thought we got after the passer.

“Offensively, it’s a struggle,” Brock added. “We’re not who we want to be right. We working awfully hard at it. If it’s hit or miss, it’s too much miss right now,”

Walker completed only 4-of-15 passes for 58 yards. But he did have a few passes dropped in the wet conditions.

After losing standout running back Wes Hills to a season-ending foot injury earlier in the week. Sophomore Kareem Williams picked up the slack by running for a team-high 93 yards on 14 carries.

The Hens’ offense was perhaps at its best on the 85-yard drive after Lafayette (0-2) closed with four points.

“We all did our job and it worked out,” said Williams. “All game we were kind of frsutrated. We weren’t doing too much. We wanted to show everyone that we could move the ball and we could score. That’s what we did.”

Just as Delaware came out on the field to get ready for the second half, they were sent right back to the locker room because of lightning in the area.

The contest ended up being delayed for an hour and 10 minutes. It resumed in a heavy rain with only a smattering of hardy fans in the stands.

The Hens were threatening to stretch their lead when they picked up a first down at the Leopards’ 12. But they fumbled two plays later.

Lafayette then used a 49-yard pass play to set up a 40-yard field goal that pulled it within 13-6 with 5:44 still left in the third quarter.

On the next possession, Delaware couldn’t convert on a third-and-one before a fumbled punt snap set up the Leopards again at the Hens’ 30. Another field goal made it 13-9 with 2:31 remaining in the third quarter.

This time, Lafayette pulled off an onsides kick, recovering at its own 46. But, this time, Delaware’s came up with a stop without giving up any more points.

“Realistically, with who we are offensively, we’re going to have to win an awful lot of close games,” said Brock. “We’re going to have to find ways to battle and rise up in certain situations, which we definitely did defensively. I couldn’t be more pleased.”

Delaware trailed 3-0 after a fairly uninspired first quarter that was played in a heavy downpour at times. But the Hens started to take control in the second quarter.

Blue Hen QB Joe Walker runs for yardage against the Leopards. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell),

Blue Hen QB Joe Walker runs for yardage against the Leopards. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell),

The biggest play of the quarter was a fumble recovery by defensive end Vince Hollerman at the Lafayette two. Three plays later, Walker scored on a one-yard run and Delaware had its first lead at 10-3 with 5:04 left in the second quarter.

Walker, a redshirt freshman, was the first freshman to start at QB for Delaware since 2010. He completed just 1-of-8 passes for three yards in the first two quarters but also had two or three passes dropped.

On the other hand, Walker did run for a team-high 41 yards on five carries.

When Raggo kicked his second field goal, a 45-yarder with 1:13 remaining before halftime, the Hens owned a 13-3 advantage.

Raggo’s first field goal, a 19-yarder, came after Delaware had a first down at the Lafayette two but was stopped on three straight running plays up the middle.

Extra points

The last freshman to start at QB for Delaware was Trevor Sasek in 2010. He started a game against Dusguene when starter Pat Devlin was sidelined with a wrist injury. …  Junior Jalen Randolph became the 57th player in Delaware history to go over 1,000 rushing yards for his career. … Reserve tight end Ryley Angeline had a 41-yard catch in the third quarter. He has two receptions this year for 72 yards. … Sophomore linebacker Charles Bell picked off his career interception in the first half. The ball ricochetted off a Lafayette receiver. … The Hens had three QB sacks in the first half. … Indian River High grad Jamie Jarmon had an eight-yard run in the first quarter for the Hens. … Delaware is on the road for the next two weeks, at Villanova and then North Carolina.

Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or walter@newszap.com.

 

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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