Hens score with 18 seconds left, survive Albany 21-16

Delaware’s Kani Kane, a Sussex Tech High grad, is congratulated after the first of his two TDs on Saturday. Delaware sports information/Jordan Burgess

ALBANY, N.Y. — Danny Rocco presented his Delaware football players with a pretty simple scenario at halftime on Saturday.

“I said there are two options walking off the field tonight — only two options,” he told them. “The one is joy, the other is misery.”

In the end, the Blue Hens were pretty joyful when they walked off the turf at Casey Stadium on Saturday evening — but that’s because misery was definitely nipping at their heels.

Facing a big blow to its FCS playoff chances, No. 13 Delaware instead marched 83 yards in 11 plays to battle past underdog Albany, 21-16, for its fifth-straight Colonial Athletic Association victory.

Trailing 16-15, the Hens (5-1 CAA, 7-2 overall) were about ready to set up for a potential game-winning field goal. But senior running back Kani Kane got around the left side and raced in for a 14-yard touchdown run with just 18 seconds left for the game-winner.

The Hens’ DaJoun Lee returns a kickoff against Albany in Saturday’s game. Delaware sports information/Jordan Burgess

“I had to beat one corner,” said Kane, the Sussex Tech High grad. “And he went low on me — everyone goes low on me. I jumped over him and it was wide open.”

“You like it when you don’t have to make the decision,” Rocco said about the possibility of kicking a field goal. “Kani’s hard to bring down and he found himself in the end zone. It’ll be a fun busride home.”

Delaware started the day in a four-way tie for first place in the CAA standings but now finds itself in just a two-way tie with Maine, which is also 5-1 in league games.

In the most shocking upset of the CAA season, New Hampshire upended No. 3 James Madison, 35-24 on Saturday. Rocco pointed to that upset to show just how impressive it was that Delaware was able to rally past the Great Danes (0-6 CAA, 2-7 overall).

“I just know the alternatives,” he said. “You get exposed when you are under pressure. It exposes all of us. … What I’m seeing is our team is really growing and they’re changing. They’re able to overcome.”

Clearly, things didn’t look good for the Hens near the end. The game-winning drive started at their own 17 yard line with just 2:35 on the clock.

Blue Hen linebacker Charles Bell returns an interception 72 yards in the first half. Delaware sports information/Jordan Burgess

“We’ve been in this situation a couple times now this season,” said quarterback Pat Kehoe. “I just walked in the huddle and I told the guys I love them and I trust them. We have a good plan whenever we go in the two minute.

“I always feel confident when we get the ball back in those situations because I know we have guys on the edge who can make plays.”

Kehoe completed 5-of-7 passes for 56 yards on the final drive with Joe Walker catching four of those passes for 46 yards. Kane added four carries for 22 yards.

Until then, Albany kept the Hens’ offense in check most of the contest.

Delaware scored just the two touchdowns, both from Kane (19 carries-52 yards). On two straight first-half drives, the Great Danes stopped Kane a total of seven times from about the one-yard line.

Finally, the Bridgeville native got into the end zone on a one-yard run to give the Hens a 9-0 in the second quarter.

In between those two drives, Delaware got its first points on a safety when linebacker Buck Jones made a tackle in the end zone.

After Kane’s first TD, the Hens got only a pair of field goals from Frank Raggo (50, 33 yards) before their final game-winning march.
Albany finished with a 299-268 advantage in total offense.

Kehoe completed 16-of-35 passes for 174 yards with Walker pulling in five catches for 88 yards.

The Great Danes took their first lead of the day at 16-15 when Karl Mofor scored on a four-run run with 11:44 remaining.

In the end, though, Delaware found a way just to make it another ‘W.’

It’s the first time since 2004 that the Hens have won five straight conference games.

“This is hard — it’s extremely hard,” said Rocco. “It doesn’t get easier. It gets harder every week. The more you win, the harder it gets.”

Extra points

After Kane gave the Hens the lead, linebacker Troy Reeder sealed the win with an interception. He also had a team-high eight tackles. … Linebacker Charles Bell stopped another Albany drive with an interception at the goal line and returned it 72 yards. … Delaware plays a 1 p.m. game at Stony Brook next Saturday.

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