Blue Hens seniors want to go out with a win

 

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Blue Hens captain David Tinsley and the other six seniors would like to go into the offseason with a win when they play Elon in North Carolina on Saturday. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

NEWARK — It’s the little things that David Tinsley will miss the most.

The Delaware senior defensive tackle calls them “the candid moments.”

“The moments that nobody really sees — just joking in the locker room or the moments before meetings even start,” said Tinsley. “Just bonding with those guys.”

Tinsley and the other six seniors on Delaware’s football team know that being part of those moments will end on Saturday when the Hens (2-5 CAA, 3-7 overall) close their season with a noon game at Elon (3-4 CAA, 4-6).

Even with nothing substantial riding on the outcome, there’s still some urgency to Delaware’s first trip to Elon, N.C.

Currently stuck in a three-game losing streak, the Hens would rather not be saddled with a four-game skid for the next nine months. They’re also trying to avoid becoming only the second Delaware squad to lose eight games in a season.

And since the 2008 team went 4-8, the Hens would become the first Delaware team to lose eight in an 11-game schedule.

“We need to win a football game badly,” coach Dave Brock said on Monday. “We haven’t gotten the results that we need to get — that’s not in dispute.”

Even though it was a loss, Brock says the Hens should take a great deal of confidence away from Saturday’s 24-21 loss to No. 14 James Madison.

Delaware silenced the Dukes’ high-powered offense for much of the contest before losing on a 12-yard touchdown pass with just 17 seconds remaining.

“I think we’ll take a lot of momentum away from this game,” said Brock. “We played well enough, hard enough and we did the things we need to do to win football games, with the exception of the turnovers.”

“It looked great on film,” Tinsley said about the defensive effort. “We played great.”

Now, though, with just one last game in front of them, the Hens aren’t interested in any more morale victories.

That’s especially true for seniors Tinsley, defensive end Vince Hollerman, defensive tackle Josh Plummer, offensive tackle Ben Curtis, guard Justin Glenn, long snapper Joe Fortunato and receiver Rick Bell.

Tinsley, Delaware’s team captain, said he can remember every detail of his last game in high school.

“I’m sure this week after I take off my jersey it’ll definitely be an emotional experience,” he said. “All seven seniors came here with the role this season of continuing to lay foundation of Delaware football and getting us back to where Delaware football should be.

“Just knowing that we can leave the program with a win and giving the guys some momentum into the off-season would be great. … Everybody remembers their last game.”

Upon further review

One of the critical mistakes in the JMU loss was a five-yard punt by Eric Enderson that allowed the Dukes to go just 51 yards for the winning touchdown.

But Brock said the problem was more with the blocking that allowed a JMU rusher to get in on Enderson.

The kick wasn’t blocked but went almost straight up.

“As I look at it, he did a really good job to get the ball punted,” said Brock. “It’s easy to blame the punter in that situation, but I don’t think that’s accurate.

“We cut a guy loose and he (Enderson) probably had to change the angle. Luck being what it is — and we have none — our margin of error is certainly small. It’s a shame.”

Enderson is averaging 41.1 yards per kick and has put 19 inside the opponents’ 20 yard line — second most in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Still not catching on

Delaware managed just 22 passing yards against JMU.

Unfortunately for the Hens, it was only their second-lowest total of the season. They threw for only 14 yards against Towson three weeks ago.

Quarterback Joe Walker, who was 3-for-11, did throw the ball better than his stats. Brock said Delaware had as many as six dropped passes.

“It’s challenging to look at it,” said Brock. “We had good protection, we made good throws, we didn’t finish them. That’s been a source of frustration the whole year.

“We don’t throw it well. Or if we throw it well, (but) we don’t catch it. I thought we had an opportunity to make some plays … I didn’t think the throwing was the issue (on Saturday). It’s kind of a very, very painful process, unfortunately, that we’re in right now. If we get one thing fixed, something else is malfunctioning.”

At just 66.1 yards per game, the Hens are now last nationally in passing offense out of the 123 teams in FCS. They’re one of only six squads averaging under 100 yards per game.

Tragedy at Elon

Elon is still dealing with the death of one of its football players last week.

Junior receiver Demitri Allison died after falling from the balcony of a 10-story dorm at the University of North Carolina last weekend.

Delaware’s Brock remembers dealing with the death of a football player during the season when he was coaching at Hofstra in 1999. He said it wasn’t an easy thing for the players to get past.

“It was a heartbreaking, devastating situation,” said Brock. “To see the young people who aren’t accustomed to it, prepared for it … it was really, really hard — really hard on the players. I can’t imagine what the kids at Elon are going through. They lost someone they cared about.

“It was a heartbreaking experience (at Hofstra). I think about it often, to this day, and it’s been 16 years.”

Extra points

The Hens are trying not to become the first Delaware team since 1950 to go winless on the road in a season. … Sophomore receiver Diante Cherry has 26 of the Hens’ 73 receptions. Freshman receiver Tre Brown, who suffered a season-ending knee injury five games ago, is still third on the team with nine catches. … Freshman Thomas Jefferson has a team-high 835 rushing yards and six touchdowns this year.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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