Hornets score early but are dominated at West Virginia 59-16

MORGANTOWN, W.V. — Delaware State scored a touchdown on its third play from scrimmage and forced three first-half turnovers, but it wasn’t nearly enough in a 59-16 loss to West Virginia before 51,482 fans at Milan Puskar Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Hornets only trailed 17-10 after a field goal by Wisdom Nzidee in the first quarter, but were outscored 42-6 the rest of the way to fall to 0-3. The Mountaineers won their second straight game to improve to 2-1.

West Virginia started the game with a bang. Four plays after Marcus Simms returned the opening kickoff 80 yards to the DSU 13, Justin Crawford scored the game’s first touchdown on a two-yard run, giving the Mountaineers a 7-0 lead just 53 seconds into the contest.

The Hornets answered West Virginia’s opening salvo with a touchdown of their own to stun the home crowd.

Delaware State faced a third-and-four on its first possession when freshman quarterback Jack McDaniels found running back Nyfease West wide open near the DSU sideline. West sprinted the final 73 yards to complete the 81-yard touchdown pass to get the Hornets on the board and tie the game at 7-7 at the 12:20 mark of the opening quarter.

It was the McDaniels’ first career touchdown pass and first career TD catch for West. The touchdown pass was the longest by the Hornets since Nick Elko hit Travis Tarpley for an 83-yard score against Hampton on Nov. 10, 2012.

“I’m so proud of how our guys fought today,” said Delaware State coach Kenny Carter. “We certainly wanted to win the game, and if not, keep the score closer. But we had a lot of positives today.

“We were able to move the ball, had some big plays, forced turnovers and played aggressively on defense against a high-powered FBS team. This game is behind us now. Hopefully, we can build on this performance and continue to get better for the remainder of our MEAC schedule. ”

On the ensuing West Virginia possession, the Mountaineers drove to the DSU four, but had to settle for a 20-yard field goal by Mike Molina to regain the lead 10-7 with 9:42 to go in the opening quarter.

West Virginia took advantage of a Delaware State turnover to open up a double-digit lead.

Five plays after Brycen Alleyne coughed up the ball following the Mountaineers’ kickoff, Crawford scored his second touchdown of the game on a three-yard run at 8:41 of the first quarter. The Hornets trailed 17-7 after the WVU extra point.

After a 57-yard punt by DSU’s Fidel Romo-Martinez pinned West Virginia inside its 10-yard line, the Hornets forced a turnover, providing a chance to pull closer. Ulises De Los Santos recovered a fumble by WVU quarterback Will Grier at the Mountaineer six yard line.

The Hornets advanced to the two yard line, but couldn’t get into the end zone. Nzidee nailed a 24-yard field goal to cut West Virginia’s lead to 17-10 with 4:35 left in the first quarter. The DSU kicker is 4-for-4 on field goal attempts this season.

Delaware State forced two more first half turnovers, but failed to convert them into points.

Grier connected with Simms for a 62-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter to give the Mountaineers a 24-10 lead.

The Hornets were outscored 21-0 in the second quarter to trail 45-10 at the half.

West Virginia led 59-10 when Delaware State scored the final touchdown of the game on an eight-yard pass from Keenan Black to freshman wide receiver Kwannah Kollie with 5:51 left to play.

The scoring pass was the first of Black’s career and Kollie’s first TD catch. The score capped off an eight-play, 82-yard drive that consumed 6:18.

West had two carries for 31 yards and a 19-yard reception, while Black completed 3-of-4 passes for 26 yards and rushed for 17 more during the drive.

The Hornets had a season-high 301 total yards, highlighted by a season-best 161 rushing in the game.

West, a redshirt freshman, had a career day, catching three passes for 108 yards and rushing for 53 on 10 carries. His 161 yards from scrimmage also marks a DSU high this season.

Alleyne had a team-best 65 yards rushing, highlighted by a 47-yard run. Black had 48 yards rushing on seven carries in relief of McDaniels.

Making his third collegiate start, McDaniels completed 7-of-12 passes for 114 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Hornet defensive back Nigel Bynum had his first career interception, while Brian Cavicante, Keyjuan Selby and Jahad Niebauer led DSU with six tackles each.

Romo-Martinez averaged 48.0 yards on seven punts in the game. He was tops in the MEAC and No. 8 among all FCS punters with a 47.1 yard average entering the weekend.

Delaware State returns to Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play next Saturday, taking on Norfolk State in the Hornets’ home opener. The Hall of Fame Day contest is set for 2 p.m. at Alumni Stadium.

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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