Hens look to move from mistake-riddled opening loss

NEWARK – Charles Scarff had a pretty good feeling right from the start of the play.

When the Delaware tight end saw that Rhode Island was blitzing off the corner, he knew he had a lot of room to work with.

“I kind of saw it before I got to the top of my route,” said Scarff. “I knew I was going to come out wide open. I knew he (quarterback Pat Kehoe) was going to see it. I was like, ‘This is a touchdown right here.’

“That’s all credit to him (Kehoe). He knew where to go with it. The protection was picked up and it was pitch and catch.”

Kehoe’s 28-yard scoring pass to Scarff midway through the second quarter was one of those plays where it really looked the Blue Hens had their act together in last Thursday night’s season opener against Rhode Island.

In the end, though, Delaware’s good plays were too few, its bad plays were back-breakers and the result was a 21-19 upset win for the Rams.

 

 

Sussex Tech High grad Kani Kane had a big game running the ball but also fumbled twice. Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell

If there were such things as ‘do-overs’ in sports, the Hens would gladly take on here. Instead, Delaware (0-1) can only move forward as it hosts Lafayette (0-1) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

There’s a feeling that this veteran UD squad has to rebuild its reputation somewhat after dropping from No. 15 in the STATS FCS Division I poll to only receiving votes on Monday.

Scarff said the film of the URI loss was difficult to watch.

“I think the toughest part was, when you watch the film, there were some plays where we were just this close. … if we had pulled it off, it would have been a big play,” said Scarff. “We had a number of those. It was tough watching the film.”

The most glaring mistakes were the three fumbles that the Hens lost. One of them, on a high punt snap, was picked up and returned a couple yards for a second-quarter URI touchdown.

UD lost just six fumbles all last season.

Then, in the third quarter, Delaware defensive end Armen Ware chased URI quarterback Jaquan Lawson out of the pocket and then almost out of bounds. But, at the last second, Lawson lobbed the ball downfield.

Tight end Tyler Burke somehow came down with it and turned it into a 57-yard TD reception.

“When he starts to run out, it’s kind of hard for our defensive backs and our secondary coverage-wise,” said defensive end Frank Burton. “It was kind of rough on that play. I felt as though the quarterback just threw it up.”

Then there was senior running back Kani Kane’s day. In a lot of ways, the Sussex Tech High grad had a big game, running for 106 yards on 20 carries and picking up another 47 yards on a screen pass.

But Kane also fumbled twice in URI territory to kill Delaware drives. The second one came with four minutes left – one play after Kane had broken a number of tackles on a 20-yard run – and ended the Hens’ last real scoring opportunity.

“What he brings, in a positive way, is really impressive,” coach Danny Rocco said about Kane. “It’s very much game-changing ability. (But), obviously, if you put the ball on the ground, you can’t stay on the field. So there’s the dilemma.

“I do think that he does get in this mode – ‘Beast’ mode, if you will – and when he gets in that mode, he’s hard to tackle, but he loses some basic fundamentals in securing the football.”

Old friends

Rocco said, at this point in his career, there’s usually a coach on the other team’s staff that he used to work with.

That’s certainly the case this week. Lafayette’s second-year head coach, John Garrett, was the offensive coordinator on Rocco’s Richmond team that reached the FCS quarterfinals in 2016.

The two men also worked together as assistants at Virginia. Rocco said Garrett’s family just visited his family in Newark this summer.

“John did a great job for me when he was our offensive coordinator,” said Rocco. “He really did an outstanding job taking what we had and putting his flavor into it. … I’m very appreciative of that.”

Rocco said one thing he knows about Garrett – the brother of Dallas Cowboys’ head coach Jason Garrett – is that he’s not afraid to try trick plays. He said Garrett has a whole list of things that his team’s regularly work on.

“Whether or not that’s what we expect, we better be prepared for it,” said Rocco. “That’s part of the advantage of doing it. It does force defenses to spend a decent amount of time on these situations, formations and ‘unusuals.’”

Kehoe off to fast start

Kehoe leads the Colonial Athletic Association in passing efficiency after completing 12-of-22 passes for 202 yards with two TDs and no interceptions in his first start.

It also marked just the second time since 2015 that a Delaware QB threw for over 200 yards in a game.

“I was very comfortable with what Pat did out there,” said Rocco. “There were a lot of things that impacted the outcome of the game but his performance was consistent with what we were hoping to get and expect. He made good decisions. He managed the game well and he made throws that he had to make.”

Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or walter@newszap.com.

 

 

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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