Offense shows improvement but DSU still seeks first win

Trey Gross

DOVER — Delaware State’s slumping offense woke up last week against Howard.

But it still wasn’t enough to stop the Hornets’ losing streak.

Delaware State tallied its highest point total of the year with 23. Howard scored a lot more in a 52-23 MEAC defeat for the Hornets.

DelState (0-4 MEAC, 0-6 overall) broke the 20-point mark for the first time this season and will hope to do that again this weekend when the Hornets host South Carolina State (1-2, 2-3) on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Before the Howard game, Delaware State was coming off a loss at North Carolina A&T where it only got on the board once thanks to a field goal.

The short fields and lack of time of possession on offense was also having a negative affect on the DSU defense, said coach Kenny Carter.

“We have to find ways to score points and support our defense a lot better,” Carter said. “If we can get that done, we’ll put ourselves in a better position.”

The Hornets’ breakthrough on offense was led by a surprise source.

Freshman wide receiver Trey Gross caught a pair of touchdowns and recorded 154 yards. Gross did not have a pass reception in his collegiate career until the Howard game.

His yardage was the most by a DSU freshman since Darnerian McCants totaled 170 on six receptions vs. Buffalo in 1997.

Sophomore wide receiver Taronn Selby also had a big game, racking up 102 receiving yards. Gross and Selby became the first Hornet receivers with 100 yards in the same game since Travis Tarpley (143) and Justin Wilson (110) vs. Morgan State in 2012.

The Hornets shared snaps at quarterback between freshman Jack McDaniels and sophomore Keenan Black. McDaniels completed 13-of-20 passes for a career-best 191 yards and a touchdown while Black came off the bench for 175 yards and two touchdowns.

Combined, the 401 passing yards were the third-highest total for DelState in modern history.

Still, the Hornets made too many mistakes to stick with the Bison. The biggest came right before halftime to give Howard the lead.

With the score tied, Delaware State drove to the Howard goal-line but fumbled a pitch on an option play. The ball was picked up by Howard and returned 96 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with six seconds left in the half.

It led to Howard eventually opening up a lead as big as 52-17.

One reason for the Hornets’ recent struggles on offense is four key injuries, including three on the offensive line. Running back Mike Waters and center Cade Pedro have been ruled out for the season.

It’s required Carter to start a lineup that is 85 percent freshmen or sophomores.

“The biggest thing for us right now is continuity,” Carter said. “When you lose three players, that makes it tough. It sounds like an excuse, but it’s not an excuse, it’s just reality. You’re going to have growing pains. But you’ve got to go out and execute.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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