Blue Hens snap skid, beat Towson on homecoming

NEWARK — It was too late to salvage their playoff dreams.

It was even too late to save coach Dave Brock his job.

But, the way Delaware’s football players see it, it’s never too late to win back some pride for yourselves.

So the Blue Hens did the only thing they could on Saturday, they won a game again, downing struggling Towson, 20-6, to snap a five-game losing streak before a homecoming crowd of 17,488 on a beautiful Saturday afternoon at Delaware Stadium.

For Delaware (1-4 CAA, 3-5 overall) the victory ended the program’s longest losing streak since 1939. It was the Hens’ first win since beating Lafayette on Sept. 10.

Delaware’s Thomas Jefferson breaks loose for a 40-yard TD run with 8:15 left in Saturday’s win over Towson. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

Delaware’s Thomas Jefferson breaks loose for a 40-yard TD run with 8:15 left in Saturday’s win over Towson. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

That seemed like a lifetime ago.

“It feels great — like a piano off of everyone’s back,” said senior safety Ryan Torzsa, who had a pair of interceptions. “I know we deserve it. The ball just hasn’t bounced our way these past couple weeks. But I’m so proud of the guys.

“We keep fighting. A lot of teams would just tank and say, ‘Who cares anymore?’ But a lot of the guys are still going out there fighting, playing for pride, playing for a winning season. That’s what we’re here for.

Blue Hen linebacker Jashawn Thompson celebrates a sack with teammate Troy Reeder. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

Blue Hen linebacker Jashawn Thompson celebrates a sack with teammate Troy Reeder. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

“We don’t want to be losers,” he added. “There’s a difference between losing and being losers. And we don’t consider ourselves losers. … It’s great for the scoreboard finally to show what I think this group of guys is.”

To be sure, this wasn’t a game for the time capsules. The Tigers (0-5 CAA, 1-7) have now lost six in a row.

But it’s not like Delaware had any room to complain.

The Hens only trailed 3-0 early, taking a 10-3 advantage by halftime before finally putting the game out of reach on Thomas Jefferson’s 40-yard touchdown run with 8:15 remaining. Jefferson finished with 141 yards on 25 carries for Delaware, which was playing again without injured starter Wes Hills.

The Hens ran for 243 yards, outgaining Towson, 308-206, in total offensive yards.

Delaware used some different running plays, even running some counter action from the Wing-T days while lining up Jefferson and fellow running back Jalen Randolph in the backfield at the same time.

The Hens’ Diasjon Robinson (91) and Charles Bell (5) bring down Towson’s Deshaun Wethington on Saturday. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

The Hens’ Diasjon Robinson (91) and Charles Bell (5) bring down Towson’s Deshaun Wethington on Saturday. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

“I actually asked my coach, Coach (Tony) Lucas if we could try that,” said Jefferson. “We had it in the playbook last year and I was like, ‘Why not try anything?’ It worked.”

What worked even better, though, was the trick play Delaware ran in the second quarter.

With the Hens trailing 3-0, quarterback Joe Walker threw a lateral to receiver Diante Cherry, who fired a nice, arcing 21-yard touchdown pass to Randolph, who was wide open. It was the second time that Cherry had thrown a scoring pass to Randolph in the last two seasons.

It was also just the fifth touchdown pass of the season for Delaware and its first in the last six games.

“It’s funny, that’s kind of our thing,” said Randolph, who ran for 76 yards on 19 carries. “Me and Cherry joke about that all the time. He always tells me I have to catch it so he can get his quarterback rating up. He says he probably has the best one in UD history at this point.”

After getting shut out by Towson a year ago, the Hens had gone seven straight quarters against the Tigers without a TD.

“It was great,” interim coach Dennis Dottin-Carter said about the trick play. “Unbelievable execution. It was a great play dialed up at the right time.

“Any time you draw up a trick play, you practice it, you want to see it work on Saturday. That gives you some juice. … You feel the energy when the play gets called. Obviously the result was a big result for us.”

Defensively, Delaware limited Towson to only a pair of field goals. The Tigers’ 206 yards were also the fewest for a UD opponent since the second game of the season.

The Hens also had five takeaways, with four interceptions, to go along with three sacks.

The funny thing is that Tarzsa had two of the interceptions despite playing with a heavily-bandaged left hand that left him basically playing one-handed.

“I was dropping them horrendously in practice this week,” he said. “I couldn’t catch it.

“Everyone was giving me a hard time about it,” said Tarzsa. “They were like, ‘You’re definitely not getting an interception this year.’ I was like, ‘No, watch. The way my life goes, I’ll probably get a couple this week.’ It’s just how it works.”

The harsh reality is that Delaware still would to have to win its three remaining games to avoid a losing season. And with road games at Albany and Richmond followed by a season finale against Villanova, that doesn’t seem very likely.

In a tough season, though, Saturday afternoon was something the Hens could at least feel good about.

“It’s very special, being homecoming we had a great crowd,” said Randolph. “Seeing a lot of the guys that I played with over five years … Being able to play hard for those guys, it’s special to me.”

Flacco back in town

One of the highlights of the day for Delaware’s fans was seeing Joe Flacco back in Delaware Stadium.

The Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback got a standing ovation at halftime when he was introduced with the other new members of the university’s Athletics Hall of Fame.

Since he’s pretty busy in the fall, it was Flacco’s first time at an in-season Blue Hen football game since 2007 when he led Delaware to an NCAA I-AA playoff victory over Delaware State.

“It was cool,” said Flacco, who led the Hens to the national title game in ‘07. “Walking down the sideline, it all comes back to you. It was a very warm welcome. And it was great to see the fans, people out here supporting the team.

“It was an awesome place, a great time in my life. Nothing but good memories.”

Extra points

Along with his interception, Bell had a game-high 13 tackles for the Hens. … Frank Raggo kicked field goals of 30 and 33 yards in the game. … Linebacker Jashawn Thompson had two of Delaware’s three sacks and caused a fumble. … The Hens’ other interception came from cornerback Nasir Adderley. … Indian River High grad Jamie Jarmon had an impressive 60-yard punt return called back by an illegal block. … Walker completed 6-of-15 passes for 44 yards and ran nine times for 35 yards. The sophomore also lost his fourth fumble in the last two games.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.