Hens win home finale, snap 3-game skid 17-10 over Stony Brook

Senior defensive lineman Cam Kitchen (right) celebrates with teammate Dominick Covatto during Saturday’s game. Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell

NEWARK — Even when it was over, and Delaware’s football team had gotten what it came for, Cam Kitchen didn’t want to leave the field.
The Blue Hens’ senior defensive lineman had just played his final game at Delaware Stadium.

And even though that fact was going to be true no matter whether the Blue Hens won or lost, the moment was certainly made a lot sweeter by the fact that Delaware had found a way to beat Stony Brook, 17-10, on Saturday afternoon in its last home game of the football season.

“It means a lot — it means everything,” Kitchen said about winning his home finale. “To win my last game ever here at this stadium, it means the world to me. I had to stay out there for a couple extra minutes and just look around, touch the Blue Hen in the middle of the field one more time.

“It means the world to me.”

To be sure, there really wasn’t much pretty about this one as Delaware (3-4 CAA, 5-6 overall) snapped a three-game losing streak.
The Hens managed just 250 yards of offense, they surrendered 188 rushing yards to the Seawolves’ Isaiah White and the two teams combined to complete only 11 passes.

There were some reasons for Delaware’s offensive struggles. It lost starting quarterback Nolan Henderson (hip) and center Mario Farinella (hand) on the same first-quarter play.

The Hens ended up having to play sophomore center Mickey Henry — whose own right hand was in a cast from an injury he suffered earlier in the week.

But Delaware did what it had to do, with Stony Brook (2-5 CAA, 5-6 overall lending a helping hand in several key situations.

“We talked a lot about finishing all week long,” said coach Danny Rocco. “It’s about the only real theme that I offered. We were big in big moments. That’s something we haven’t been of late.”

With the game tied 10-10 at halftime, the second half featured just one touchdown. Will Knight (Smyrna) went up the middle for a 21-yard TD run to cap a nine-play, 55-yard drive with only 10:18 remaining.

Delaware linebacker Johnny Buchanan returns an interception 33 yards for a TD on the game’s third play from scrimmage.

The run was the highlight of another big day for the redshirt freshman, who finished with 108 yards on 17 carries while adding another 28 yards on two receptions.

But the touchdown came when Delaware should have been facing a fourth-and-12 at the Seawolves’ 36. Stony Brook lineman Makye Smith, however, was called for unsportsmanlike conduct to give the Hens a first down.

Later in the contest, it looked like Stony Brook was going to get the ball back at midfield with almost five minutes remaining. But the Seawolves’ John Corpac fumbled a punt and the Hens’ Andrew Pawlowski recovered it.

Delaware was able to pick up a pair of first downs before fumbling the ball back to Stony Brook at its own 27 with just 1:04 left. The Seawolves were only able to reach their 46 before time ran out. Stony Brook was averaging 25.6 points per game.

“As a defense, we just wanted to play motivated, play with passion,” said Kitchen, who had a team-high eight tackles. “It showed up today to our benefit. We were definitely playing for something. We just wanted to show the defense that we have.”

The Hens came up with two big turnovers in the contest.

On just the third play from scrimmage, Kitchen pressured Stony Brook QB Tyquell Fields (5-for-11, 45 yards) into a short third-down pass. Delaware linebacker Johnny Bunchanan just had to pull in the interception and return it 33 yards for a touchdown less than two minutes into the game.

“I looked to see big 99 (Kitchen) hitting the quarterback and it kind of altered the direction of the ball,” said Buchanan. “I told Cam, I owe him for that one. He got me that pick.”

In the third quarter, Stony Brook had a third-and-goal from the Hens’ 11 when Fields inexplicably lobbed a pass into a crowd of players in the middle of the end zone. Delaware safety Noah Plack came down with the interception to end the threat.

Between them, Fields and Blue Hen quarterback Pat Kehoe (6-of-10, 87 yards) combined to throw for only 137 yards. And 29 of those yards came on the Seawolves’ last three plays of the game.

Rocco thought the wind played a role in limited passing numbers while losing Henderson hurt Delaware.

“We thought Nolan would have been able to throw the ball in the wind,” said Rocco. “Nolan throws a tight spiral. I really thought he’d have a big day today. … I would have liked to see what Nolan could have done today but we certainly leaned on our backs because of the circumstances.”.

Extra points

White’s 188 rushing yards were the 12th-most against a Delaware team. … The Hens also lost receiver Chi Chi Amachi to a knee injury after he made a nice, leaping 33-yard catch along the sideline in the first quarter. … Delaware closes the season next Saturday with a 1 p.m. game at Villanova.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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