‘Inconsistent’ offense sinks Hens in 27-0 loss to Hokies

Delaware running back Kani Kane, a Sussex Tech grad, looks for yardage against the Hokies. (UD Athletics/Jesse Caris)

BLACKSBURG, Va. — The Delaware defense put in a big effort in Saturday’s game against No. 18 Virginia Tech but one special-teams lapse swung the momentum on Saturday afternoon.

An inconsistent offense also could not put points on the board in the Blue Hens’ 27-0 setback to the Hokies before a boisterous crowd of 62,526 at Lane Stadium.

Delaware (1-1) held the Hokies offense to just 303 total yards and only two offensive touchdowns, but the offense could not hold up its part of the bargain.

Virginia Tech (2-0) held the Blue Hen offense in check all day as Delaware managed just 223 total yards, turned the ball over twice, and was forced to punt 10 times. Delaware was also called for 11 penalties for 84 yards, the most by a UD team since 2014.

“I’m disappointed but I’m not discouraged,” said Delaware coach Danny Rocco. “I saw too many phases within the game today that were positive and saw signs of a pretty good football team. I expected a little more today and I thought we would be able to keep the score within reach.

“Our defense had a pretty good day’s work but offensively we were too inconsistent from possession to possession. Virginia Tech has a really stout defense and they’ve been doing this for a long time. There is certainly no shame. I’ve seen that defense take control of a lot of games over the years. We just need to stay focused and stay committed.”

UD Athletics/Jesse Caris
Delaware cornerback Nijuel Hill knocks away a pass in Saturday’s game at Virginia Tech. (UD Athletics/Jesse Caris)

Delaware quarterback Joe Walker completed 8 of 17 passes for 116 yards and also rushed for 26 yards while Thomas Jefferson ran for 27 yards and Diante Cherry caught three passes for 41 yards. Defensively for the Hens, Nasir Adderley had a team-high six tackles and blocked a field goal attempt while Bilal Nichols had five tackles and a sack.

Virginia Tech quarterback Josh Jackson threw for 222 yards with touchdown passes of four yards to Travon McMillian and 28 yards to Cam Phillips. Phillips finished with six catches for 90 yards. Kicker Joey Slye added field goals from 50 and 24 yards.

“We walk away from this game with some positives, although its hard to think that way right now after a loss,” said linebacker Troy Reeder. “We met some goals today. Our defensive line was very good and it was nice to see our guys in the back end step up.

“I was proud of the way they played. We can leave this game saying we gave it our best shot.”

The big blow just happened to be the first score of the game when Greg Stroman returned a punt 61 yards for a touchdown with 2:45 left in the first half to give the Hokies the lead for good. Slye kicked his 51-yard field goal midway through the second quarter and McMillian scored his short touchdown just before halftime to give Virginia Tech the 17-0 halftime lead.

Phillips 28-yard catch from Jackson early in the fourth quarter and Slye’s 24-yard field goal capped the scoring.

Delaware, which suffered its first shutout since 2014, knocked on the door several times but could not put points on the board. Frank Raggo’s 28-yard field goal attempt with 3:40 left in the first half was off the mark. The Hens drove to the Tech 13-yard line late in the third quarter but was Walker was intercepted by Terrell Edmunds, who returned the ball 55 yards to set up the Phillips touchdown.

“Virginia Tech has a great defense and fantastic linebackers,” said center Brody Kern. “We knew they would be tough to move, but we made too many mental errors and had too many missed assignments. We should have put the ball in the end zone when we got down there. We need to do a better job at finishing drives and we will.”

Extra points

The crowd of 62,526 marked the highest attended game the Blue Hens have participated in school history, surpassing the previous mark of 40,119 at Maryland in 2008. … Diante Cherry went over 1,000 career yards with his first reception of the day in the first quarter. His three receptions leaves him with 99 career catches. … Delaware, which led NCAA FCS in fewest penalties with just 40 in 11 games in 2017, was whistled for 11 penalties for 84 yards. During one stretch in the second quarter, the Hens committed motion penalties on three straight plays. … Delaware was held scoreless for the first time since a 19-0 loss at Towson on Oct. 31, 2015 … Delaware punter Nick Pritchard had a busy afternoon as he punted 10 times for a 39.9-yard average and booted a season-long kick of 52 yard.

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