Epperson throws two touchdowns for DelState

 

DSU’s QB Daniel Epperson scrambles at the Delaware State University at University of Delaware football game on Thursday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DSU’s QB Daniel Epperson scrambles at the Delaware State University at University of Delaware football game on Thursday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

NEWARK — Dan Epperson stood outside the visiting locker room at Delaware Stadium and did what a typical quarterback does.

He took all the blame and placed it squarely on his shoulders.

It was a big night for Epperson on Thursday, making his Division I football debut. Although he threw the first two touchdowns of his Delaware State University career, Epperson ignored those and talked about how his play led to Delaware’s 56-14 win over the Hornets.

“I didn’t keep my team in the game and I put my defense in a lot of bad situations,” Epperson said. “It’s always good to score, but to me, (those touchdowns) shouldn’t even be brought up.”

“It was a rough night,” Epperson added. “I definitely made a lot of mistakes, a lot of things I can learn from for sure.”

Epperson was making his first appearance for Delaware State since transferring from San Bernardino (Calif.) Junior College in January. The Hornets employed a two-quarterback system in the opener, but Epperson started and received most of the playing time after sophomore Kobie Lain was injured.

Epperson threw four interceptions, three of which led to Delaware touchdowns, including a pick-six by UD linebacker Troy Reeder. Epperson finished 13-of-26 for 118 yards.

Second-year coach Kenny Carter was there to talk his quarterback off the ledge.

Carter pointed out that not all the interceptions were on Epperson, and there are some growing pains to be expected for a player who didn’t play a down of Division I football before Thursday night.

“Dan did some really good things,” Carter said. “Two of his interceptions weren’t on him. The first one, the kid is a 6-7 defensive lineman, stands up, tips it and makes a great play. That’s part of football. Another one, (DSU receiver) Jeremiah (Williams) doesn’t cut hard inside and creates a bad situation.”

Lain only started two drives at quarterback for the Hornets. He did lead them down the field, helped out by three Delaware penalties, which gave DelState 45 free yards, on the first touchdown drive of the game.

Lain’s helmet was pulled off midway through the drive on a facemask penalty. A few plays later, he left the game with a gash to his forehead suffered while at the bottom of the pile. He required stitches and did not return.

Epperson needed one play after Lain’s injury to hit his former junior college teammate, Mason Rutherford, on a fade route in the end zone from six yards out. His other touchdown was to Brycen Alleyne on a crossing route for 13 yards in the fourth quarter.

“I give all the credit to my offensive line and everyone that kept fighting,” Epperson said. “Everyone was very supportive. I had a really rough night, as everyone could tell, and everyone was giving me a lot of support. I learned a lot about my teammates and their love for me tonight. … It’s all fixable. Just a lot of mental mistakes.”

Lain’s first chance at quarterback came on the Hornets’ first drive of the second quarter.

He completed DSU’s first pass for positive yardage of the game, hooking up with Rutherford over the middle for 31 yards. Whatever positive energy that play brought the Hornets was short-lived, though, Lain mishandled a snap on third-and-short to turn the ball over, something Delaware State did six times on the night.

“We gave them a short field multiple times and any time you do that you create a bad situation for yourself,” Carter said.

The Hornets also showed their inexperience on the defensive front. At one point, they were playing three freshmen along the defensive line.

Delaware had a field day running on the young DSU defense, gaining 395 yards on the ground. It’s yet another lesson for the new-look Hornets who have 46 new players this year as Carter continues to try to rebuild the program.

“I don’t want to take any credit away from DelState,” said Delaware running back Wes Hills, who had 212 of those rushing yards. “It was tough what the head coach did — bringing in all those new guys and trying to mold them into the team that he wants. So my hat goes off to them, respect goes out to them. They have a lot of great players.”

Extra points

Woodbridge High alum Logan Wescott forced a fumble late in the third quarter. It was recovered by junior Kameron Rogers. Wescott led the Hornet defense with 14 tackles. … Alleyne returned a kickoff 47 yards to the DSU 49-yard line on the Hornets’ first possession. He added a 50-yard return in the fourth quarter. He finished with 141 kick return yards on five attempts. … Rutherford led Delaware State with 83 receiving yards with six catches. Rutherford also handled punt return duties for the Hornets before he was hurt on a muffed punt. He was replaced by Aris Scott … True freshmen Mike Waters and Fatu Sua-Godinet made their debuts for the DSU offense. Waters, a running back, had four rushes for 15 yards and a reception for eight yards. Sua-Godinet caught one pass for four yards. … New freshman punter Fidel Romo Martinez had six punts for an average distance of 40.7 yards. His longest was 53 yards. … Caesar Rodney product Sika Bendolph had one carry in the fourth quarter for four yards.

 

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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