Division II Chowan stuns DSU 31-30 on late missed PAT

DSU sophomore tight end Nate Ortiz (85) and Chowan senior defensive back Kenny Watt (21) battle for a pass. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DSU sophomore tight end Nate Ortiz (85) and Chowan senior defensive back Kenny Watt (21) battle for a pass. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

DOVER — Kenny Carter’s debut as head coach at Alumni Stadium ended up being a historic moment.

But it was the opponent who was celebrating making history.

Chowan, a Division II school out of the CIAA, stunned DelState 31-30 for the Hawks’ first win against a Division I opponent in school history on Saturday afternoon as the Hornets dropped to 0-3.

The Hornets scored a touchdown in the game’s final minute but missed the potential game-tying extra point. A failed onside kick then sealed it for Chowan.

Punter Jeremiah McGeough kicked the missed extra point which went wide right. McGeough was on the field because No. 1 kicker Wisdom Nzidee was cramping up.

Carter said McGeough told him that he also felt cramps in his calves right before the ball was snapped on the extra point attempt.

“We weren’t doing a great job of hydrating,” Carter said. “It’s no excuse. You’ve got to manage that. Sometimes you get one opportunity to make a play and we didn’t make it.”

The last time the Hornets lost to a Division II opponent was to North Carolina Central in 2004 before Central had made the leap to the MEAC.

“It means a lot but anytime you get a win it’s special,” said Chowan head coach Tim Place. “It’s so hard to get a win at the collegiate level in football. You appreciate these experiences, especially since a Chowan football team beat a Division I opponent, so it feels good.”

The Hornets gifted Chowan (2-1) a 21-0 lead, which left them playing from behind the whole game.

It didn’t get any easier for DSU when quarterback Esayah Obado also had to leave the game in the second half with cramps. Gilbert Rivera, who started at quarterback last season when Obado was hurt, came off the bench to throw for 59 yards on 4-of-8 passing.

It was Rivera who engineered a late scoring drive after the DelState defense, led by Terrick Colston and Gabe Sherrod, got enough of a surge to stop the Hawks on a fourth-and-short conversion. The Hornets needed four plays for 69 yards to tie the game.

Rivera picked out Dover High product Kamal Abrams, a transfer from UConn, in the corner of the end zone. Abrams snagged the pass with one hand to set up the pivotal extra point.

But the hopes of overtime soon evaporated with McGeough’s kick.

“I don’t feel bad for anybody,” Carter said. “You either execute or you don’t. We didn’t make the plays we needed to win the game. This is a results-oriented business.”

Down three touchdowns early, Delaware State got back into the game thanks to its defense.

J.R. Robinson capitalized on a bobbled pass in the second quarter, picking it off and taking it 58 yards for DSU’s first touchdown. It was the third defensive touchdown the Hornets have scored this year.

Malik Harris intercepted another pass on Chowan’s next drive and returned it into the red zone. That set up Obado’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Smyrna High grad Malik Golson. It was also the first career passing touchdown for Obado.

Just when it looked like the Hornets were getting back into the game, Chowan extended its lead to two touchdowns on Marcus Hampton’s 1-yard run with 1:49 left in the third. Hampton finished with 121 yards rushing.

“Chowan played a great game but I’m sure everyone on this team feels like we could have done a lot better,” Robinson said. “It’s hard coming back from 21 points down and we did that to ourselves.”

Trailing 31-17 entering the fourth, the Hornet came within a touchdown on Jamaal Jackson’s 42-yard run for a score with 13:33 left. No one scored again until Abrams’ touchdown with 59 seconds to go.

Chowan out-gained the Hornets 488-256.

“It was a whole bunch of lack of execution on our part,” Golson said. “It took us way too long for us to understand that we could make plays. By that time it was too late.”

“This is their Super Bowl and they played like it,” Carter said.

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