Hens fall to Stony Brook in 1st game after Brock firing

NEWARK — Delaware didn’t fire Dave Brock hoping to light a fire under the Blue Hen football team.

But it would have been a nice side effect.

Instead, it was just more of the same from Delaware as it played well enough at times but not well enough to win, eventually falling to Stony Brook, 28-3, in Colonial Athletic Association football at windy Delaware Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Making their debut under interim coach Dennis Dottin-Carter, the Hens (0-4 CAA, 2-5 overall) ran their losing streak to five games in a row, making it the program’s longest skid since 1939. It’s also the first time Delaware has started its conference schedule with five straight losses since first joining the Yankee Conference in 1986.

Like his predecessor, Dottin-Carter wasn’t interested in making excuses.

“I will say that I am extremely proud of the guys, number one with the way they came together this week,” said the 34-year-old former co-defensive coordinator. “The effort that they put forth in practice, they did a tremendous job. I thought they were focused, I thought they were locked in.

“(But), at the end of the day, the result was not the result that we wanted. Certainly it was not the result that that we expected when you consider how well we practiced this week.”

Delaware linebacker Charles Bell returns a fumble late in the first half on Saturday. (Delaware sports information photo/Mark Campbell)

Delaware linebacker Charles Bell returns a fumble late in the first half on Saturday. (Delaware sports information photo/Mark Campbell)

The most glaring stat from the loss, in Delaware’s first-ever football meeting with the 24th-ranked Seawolves (4-0 CAA, 5-2), was the Hens’ five lost fumbles. Delaware fumbled the ball seven times — its most since 1998 — while the five lost fumbles were its most since 1995.

The Hens’ first two fumbles cost them dearly.

The first one stopped Delaware’s opening drive after the Hens reached the Stony Brook 23. Then, on the Hens’ second drive, quarterback Joe Walker lost the ball as he went to throw it.

The Seawolves’ Jaheem Woods scooped up the fumble and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown that gave Stony Brook a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter. It was the third straight game that Delaware has had a turnover returned for a TD against it.

Two more Blue Hen fumbles, at their 49 and 33 yard line, led to Seawolves TDs in the second half.

Blue Hen QB Joe Walker fumbled the ball four times on Saturday, losing three of them. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

Blue Hen QB Joe Walker fumbled the ball four times on Saturday, losing three of them. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

The number of fumbles was a little mystifying considering that, before Saturday, Delaware had lost just three fumbles all season.

Dottin-Carter didn’t know why the Hens had so much trouble holding onto the ball.

“I can’t tell you that,” he said. “It was a little bit more crisp out there, the wind was up. Maybe the ball was a little more slippery — I didn’t touch it. At the end of the day, they’re all excuses. We need to do a better job of holding onto the football.“

In the first half, Delaware held the ball more than twice as long as Stony Brook. But it trailed 7-3.

The Hens did put together an 18-play, 60-yard march that lasted more than 10 minutes. But it only resulted in a 23-yard field goal from Frank Raggo.

Delaware then had a chance to score right before intermission when linebacker Charles Bell picked up a fumble and returned it 33 yards to the Stony Brook 20.

The Hens, though, went for it on a fourth-and-two from the 12 and Walker was stopped for a one-yard loss.

Things only got worse in the second half. Delaware managed just 78 yards of offense with three fumbles over the final two quarters.

“Obviously we were down coming out of halftime,” said center Brody Kern. “But we were moving the ball in the first half. I think the ‘O’ line kind of got complacent and thought. ‘Oh, we’ll just keep going out, doing our thing.’ (But) they had a good defensive line and they got the better of us.”

Stony Brook, which has been winning with its defense all year, finished with only a 285-238 advantage in net yards. Delaware held a 16-10 edge in first downs.

The Seawolves defensive coordinator is Lyle Hemphill, a Delaware native and former Blue Hen assistant coach.

Kern said the players still have faith in their coaching staff after the tumultuous week.

“We kept saying that we’re a family — which we are,” said Kern. “We had a couple players’ meetings where the captains spoke, which I think was needed. But pressure? No. We’re going to go out and play the football that we know how to play.”

“The biggest thing we harped on is, we have to come together more than we ever have,” said Bell, who had a team-high 11 tackles. “We have to do a better job on both sides of the ball.”

In the end, Dottin-Carter and his staff can only do what Brock would have done — go back to practice, try to work harder and clean up the mistakes. The Hens now have to win their final four games to avoid having a losing season.

“At the end of the day, we’ve got to find a better way to simulate game situations,” said Dottin-Carter. “And just do a better job with the fundamentals.”

Extra points

Stony Brook’s Stacey Bedell had a game-high 120 yards and a pair of TDs on 14 carries. … Cornerback Malcolm Brown had a first-half interception for the Hens, their ninth of the season. … Walker completed 12-of-26 passes for 134 yards. He completed his first five attempts of the game. … Delaware played without its top receiver Diante Cherry, who was suspended for the contest. Starting receiver Vinny Papale was also sidelined by injury. … Rutgers transfer Charles Scarff had four catches for 71 yards. …  Wes Hills returned from a knee injury to run for a team-high 53 yards on 13 carries. … Delaware hosts Towson next Saturday for Homecoming.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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