No. 15 Blue Hens suffer 42-7 shocker at CAA foe Elon

It was a long second half for Delaware’s defense, including Cam Kitchen, Frank Burton and Brandan Hall. Delaware sports information

ELON, N.C. — After an open date last week, the Delaware football team thought maybe it was recharged and ready to go.
It wasn’t.

In an effort that may have been just as surprising as their narrow loss to Pitt two weeks ago was, the No. 15 Blue Hens got steamrolled by Elon, 42-7, in a Colonial Athletic Association football game on Saturday afternoon.

The Phoenix (2-2 CAA, 3-4 overall) ran off 28 unanswered points to begin the second half before posting the program’s first win over Delaware (1-1 CAA, 3-3 overall) in four all-time tries.

Blue Hens coach Danny Rocco didn’t mince his words after the game.

“I was very disappointed, I mean pretty embarrassed basically, how it all played out,” he said. “We’ve been down this year several times and came out of the locker room and performed in the second half.

Blue Hens QB Nolan Henderson runs the ball as Elon’s McAllister Ingram (18) waits for him. McAllister was ejected for helmet-to-helmet contact on the first-quarter play while Henderson suffered a concussion and did not return.

“We just didn’t have it in us today. I don’t really know exactly why but defensively we couldn’t get stops. … Offensively, we had a drive or two late but never really gave ourselves a chance.”

Adding injury to insult was the fact that Delaware lost starting quarterback Nolan Henderson to an illegal hit late in the first quarter.

The Smyrna High grad was sliding down after a short run when he took a helmet-to-helmet hit from Elon defensive back McAllister Ingram. Henderson’s helmet flew off and he also hit his unprotected head on the ground.

Ingram was ejected and Henderson did not return to the game.

Former starting QB Pat Kehoe took over but with only limited success. The senior completed 14-of-24 passes for 175 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Late in the first half, the Hens drove 36 yards to the Phoenix two. But Kehoe fumbled there as Elon went into halftime still leading 7-0.

Then, after the Phoenix opened up a 21-0 third-quarter lead, Kehoe threw an interception that was returned 42 yards for a touchdown that broke the game open.

Delaware linebacker Sal Mauro brings down an Elon ball carrier in Saturday’s game.

“I think we felt Pat was ready and Pat was able to step in there and perform,” said Rocco. “As the game unfolded, he certainly did some good things.

“Without a doubt, Nolan is a different kind of quarterback for us. We did have quite a few things in the game that were very much suited to his skillset. But that’s not really why the game went the way it did.”

It was 35-0 before Kehoe threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to tight end Bryce DeMaille with just 8:54 remaining.

Of Delaware’s 319 total yards, 158 came on its last two possessions of the contest. Elon finished with 435 yards.

The Hens didn’t help themselves, as they finished with seven penalties for 53 yards. They had been averaging just 2.6 penalties, the best in FCS.

Senior QB Pat Kehoe played the final three quarters after Nolan Henderson was injured.

“We did a lot of things that were very uncharacteristic of who we’ve been to this point,” said Rocco. “In this moment I can’t offer the ‘why’ as to why or how that happens.”

Delaware returns home to host New Hampshire next Saturday afternoon. With tougher opponents waiting ahead, this was a perplexing way for the Hens to start their stretch of seven straight conference games.

“We’re going to take a big step back and kind of reassess where we’re at,” said Rocco. “We certainly are going to have to do a better job in the second half of the season. I can only be hopeful that we’ll come back fighting and hungry and ready to go back to work.

“This is one Saturday afternoon. We didn’t play well but really nothing went our way. Those errors sand miscues kind of mounted on us. It’s very hard to dig yourself out of a hole when you’re down four scores. That was our fate out here today.”

Extra points

Will Knight (Smyrna) finished with a team-high 69 yards on 11 carries. … Starting running back DaJoun Lee, who returned from injury, had 29 yards on seven carries. … Khory Spruill had 19 yards on four carries in his first actin of the season while Andre Robinson didn’t play. … Thyrick Pitts had fou catches for 69 yards. … DeMaille added 69 yards on just two receptions. He looked like he was going to score his second TD late in the game but the referees ruled that he fumbled just before he crossed the goal line. … Kedrick Whitehead (Middletown) and Noah Plack each had seven tackles.

Facebook Comment