Carter era begins with loss as DSU falls 32-13 at Liberty

Delaware State University first-year head coach Kenny Carter leads his players onto the field for the Hornets’ football season opener at Liberty Saturday night. DSU fell to the host Flames 32-13. (DSU submitted photo/Courtesy of David Duncan)

Delaware State University first-year head coach Kenny Carter leads his players onto the field for the Hornets’ football season opener at Liberty Saturday night. DSU fell to the host Flames 32-13. (DSU submitted photo/Courtesy of David Duncan)

LYNCHBURG. Va. — The Kenny Carter era at Delaware State University opened with flashes of positive plays, but ultimately too many of the same mistakes that doomed the Hornets to a 10-loss season a year ago.

Carter’s first game as DelState’s head coach was a 32-13 defeat to No. 14 Liberty University on Saturday night at Arthur L. Williams Stadium.

Darrin Peterson had a pair of touchdown catches to lead the Flames.

“Our guys fought the whole game,” Carter said. “They didn’t worry about what the score was. We wanted to play a quality opponent. This was perfect for us. Now we have a measuring stick on where we are and what we need to do to move forward. I couldn’t have had a better situation.”

Esayah Obado, making his first start at quarterback for DSU since November 2013, went 16-of-27 for 227 yards with two interceptions and rushed for a touchdown. Obado missed all of last year with an injury.

“I’m so proud of him,” Carter said. “He got hit many times. He was probably a little dinged up and he competed. He threw a couple balls down the seam that took a lot to stand ion there and complete.”

“I knew we were the underdog,” Obado said. “Everybody counted us out but we did some good things as team that we can improve on. This is a learning game, it’s a process and I enjoyed it.”

The Hornets’ run game never got going as they finished with 42 rushing yards. They were also hampered by mistakes on special teams — two illegal procedure penalties and a shanked punt.

Carter was especially disappointed in the special teams problems. He was hired to fix a DSU special teams unit that gave up seven touchdowns on punts last season and typically gave the offense great field position.

He said punter Jeremiah McGeough and kicker Wisdom Nzidee need to improve if the Hornets are going to have a successful season.

“It would be one thing if it was scheme-oriented but it’s not scheme oriented,” Carter said. “It was two guys who performed very poorly. We call people out. That’s what we do. They know they got to get it fixed. They have the talent to be successful, but they have got to perform when the lights are on.”

Two local products had big nights for the DelState offense at wide receiver.

Smyrna High graduate Malik Golson paced the Hornets with seven catches for 74 yards. Kamal Abrams (Dover High) caught three passes for 51 yards.

The first quarter didn’t go smoothly for the Hornets outside of their first defensive possession, when they forced a Liberty punt.

Liberty scored its first touchdown with 7:17 left in the opening quarter. Peterson beat his man down the right side of the field and Liberty QB Josh Woodrum floated a perfectly placed ball to him in the back of the end zone.

The Flames doubled that lead when Desmond Rice reeled off a 23-yard run to the outside with 4:53 left in the first. The Hornet defense was still scrambling to get set, leaving Liberty’s offensive line to easily seal off the right side of the field for Rice to scamper into open space.

Liberty had great field position on that drive because of Obado’s first interception. He was trying to throw the ball to Aris Scott near the sideline on a third-and-long, but Liberty’s Wes Scott jumped the route to pick off Obado’s attempt.

Obado’s touchdown run came with 8:05 left in the second. The Hornets were able to drive down the field thanks to a fourth-down conversion in their own territory and a 46-yard completion to Scott.

The Hornets elected to go for two in a 14-6 game and ran a trick play with the offensive line spread out on the right side in front of a wide receiver. It didn’t work as Obado fumbled a yard short. The Hornets recovered the ball in the end zone, but the refs blew the play off since the ball was advanced by a player who did not fumble it.

The Flames were able to pad the lead on a 52-yard field goal by John Lunsford. They added another two points when the Hornets elected to pass on third-and-long backed up by their own end zone. Obado was sacked and the ball rolled out for a safety.

Liberty’s final two touchdowns came off a Peterson 6-yard reception early in the third and a Desmond Rice rush on fourth-and-short in the third.

Jamaal Jackson had the other touchdown for DelState on a 2-yard run with 5:32 left in the third quarter which made it a 25-13 game. That was as close as the Hornets would get in the second half.

One thing was clear with Obado, he loved being back on the field and healthy.

“The atmosphere was really great tonight and I enjoyed it,” he said. “To come in here and compete with the No. 14 team in the country, is good for us.”

Despite being on the receiving end of some hard hits, Obado said he was feeling OK.

“That’s football, nothing but a thing to me,” he said. “I’ll be sore but I’m alright.”

Extra points

Terrick Colston blocked a field goal for the Hornets while Kevin Jocelyn had an interception. … Obado’s rushing touchdown was the second of his career. He still has not thrown a passing touchdown. … Nzidee converted his first career extra point for the Hornets. … Morris Fraiser, third on the depth chart for DSU at wide receiver, missed the game with an injury. … Malik Harris led the Hornets with 12 tackles. … Miles Hunter, a Caesar Rodney High product, had two tackles and a half-sack for the Liberty defense. … Liberty’s Dante’ Shells was targeted twice but had no catches. Shells is also a Caesar Rodney High grad.

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