Delaware Valley crushes Wesley 45-10 in NCAA Division III second round

Wesley head coach Chip Knapp out on the field with his team during a timeout Saturday. Special to the State News/Gary Emeigh

DOVER — More than anything, Wesley College’s football team wanted to get back to the NCAA Division III playoffs this season.

Sometimes, though, in the playoffs, you get days like this.

Ninth-seeded Delaware Valley was a little too good for the No. 10 Wolverines and Wesley helped out by turning the ball over six times as the Aggies rolled to a 45-10 victory in the second round of the Division III playoffs at Miller Stadium.

The Wolverines (10-2) were also called for 182 yards worth of penalties as DelVal (11-1) avenged a four-overtime loss to Wesley early in the season.

The Aggies get a quarterfinal trip to North Central (Ill.), which toppled Mount Union, 59-52, on Saturday. Making the program’s 15th NCAA playoff appearance, Wesley failed to make the third round for only the fifth time.

“Delaware Valley did a great job,” said Wolverines coach Chip Knapp. “When I talked to the team, I said, I found that as we advance in the playoffs, if we have a weakness, it’s going to come out.

Mario Nigro of Delaware Valley is driven to the ground by a host of Wolverine defenders.

“Today, we were undisciplined. You can’t win games when you have those penalties and we’re turning the ball over.”

“They came prepared and punched us in the mouth,” said senior receiver Ruhann Peele. “They were the better team today. I think we shot ourselves in the foot a lot. They had a good scheme and out-worked us.

“We didn’t give up even when the score got out of hand. We just played every play like it was our last and just enjoyed it.”

After being limited to only three points in regulation in the first meeting with the Aggies, the Wolverines didn’t fare much better in Saturday’s rematch.

The difference was that DelVal — which also was held to three points in regulation the first time — erupted for 45 points on Saturday.

All-American tight end Dan Allen made a number of big plays, finishing with 128 receiving yards and three touchdown catches on just six receptions for the Aggies. The 6-foot-5, 235-pound senior also ran for a TD.

The Wolverines still trailed only 17-3 early in the third quarter when DelVal used a trick play to help break open the contest. Backup QB DaQuan Bohannan lined up as a receiver, took a pitch and threw a 41-yard scoring to a wide-open Allen.

Wesley wide receiver Ruhann Peele is knocked out of bounds after a pass reception against Delaware Valley.

“I wouldn’t say they were necessarily better than us or they did scheme stuff that we hadn’t seen,” said junior defensive tackle Shymere Vessels (Woodbridge), who had seven tackles. “They just wanted it more this game.”

The Aggies out-gained Wesley by a margin of only 388 to 349 yards. But the Wolverines’ two best scoring chances both ended in first-half field goal attempts.

Senior Nick Bruhn made one of the two kicks to account for Wesley’s only points in the first two quarters.

Finally, the Wolverines reached the end zone from an unlikely situation. With Wesley backed up at its own 12, Marcellus Pack sprinted through a big hole up the middle and pulled away on an 88-yard touchdown run.

The Dover High grad ended up with a game-high 163 yards on 15 carries in his final game. He added 106 yards on five kickoff returns but lost a pair of fumbles.

Marcellus Pack of Wesley gets a block and races around the right end for yardage in game with Delaware Valley.

DelVal’s defense, though, made freshman quarterback Drew Fry look human after his big starting debut last week. He completed only 12-of-23 passes for 121 with the first three interceptions of his career.

The Aggies also limited Peele to four catches for 56 yards.

“He made some freshman mistakes,” Knapp said about Fry. “Sometimes you don’t realize what the coach is saying until you actually make the mistake. Then it’s, ‘Oh, that’s what you were talking about.’ There was a couple of those today.

“His ability to throw the ball is next level for us. He has the physical skills as good as any quarterback we’ve ever had here. If he continues to work hard at it, he’s going to see some great results.”

The good news for the Wolverines is that they return a number of key players from this year’s squad. They’re also expected to get back standout running back E.J. Lee, who missed most of the season with a foot injury.

“It was important to get back on the right track, show the younger guys where hard work takes you,” said Peele. “We’re just to build for the future of the program so everyone knows the tradition here.”

“In the game of football, you have your wins and you have your losses,” said Vessels. “But you just have to keep learning from it and keep moving forward. This game is only going to make us stronger as a team coming into next year.”

Extra points

Wesley played without linebacker Dante Daniel, its leading tackler, who was injured in his last week’s win over Framingham State. Senior safety Coray Williams moved up into his spot and finished with a game-high 13 tackles. … Wesley still leads the all-time series with DelVal, 5-4.

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