November 11, 2014

Delaware Valley Football - Aggies game preview Vs Widener

Photo courtesy of DelVal Sports Information
DOYLESTOWN (PA) – The Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) championship and an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III playoffs. The Keystone Cup (handed out annually to the winning team in the series), an undefeated regular-season record and local bragging rights. All that and more is on the line for the game of the year as 9-0 and nationally ranked Delaware Valley College travels to 9-0 and nationally ranked Widener University on Saturday, November 15. Kickoff at Leslie C. Quick, Jr. Stadium for the battle of the unbeaten archrivals is slated for 1:00 p.m.

(Fan advisory – There will be no advanced tickets for the game and Widener's ticket booths will open at 11:00 a.m. Tickets are $6 for adults, $4 for seniors and $2 for students)


The 2014 season has been leading up to this contest for both teams, especially after both dispatched fellow conference power Lycoming College and up-and-comer Stevenson University, which were both in the conference championship race before facing Delaware Valley and Widener. After weeks of watching the scoreboard to see how the other team was faring, Delaware Valley-Widener week is finally here. And it marks the first time that each are 9-0 heading into the showdown.

Widener holds a 27-9 overall lead in the series, but the Aggies have won eight of the last 11 meetings since they turned their program's fortunes around in 2003. In those last 11 meetings, five have taken place on the Pride's home turf and Delaware Valley has won three of them. The two have combined for eight MAC championships over those 11 years with six by the Aggies (2004-05-08-09-10-11) and two by the Pride (2007-11).

The Aggies were ranked first in the East Region while Widener was third in last week's first NCAA regional rankings (the next ranking will be released on Wednesday, November 12). While the high rankings and strong non-conference wins (Delaware Valley over Montclair State, Widener over Rowan) bode well for the losing team to get one of the six, at-large berths to the NCAA playoffs, neither squad wants to leave its fate in the hands of the NCAA Division III Football Committee that selects those six teams.

The Aggie offense is ranked eighth in Division III in scoring with an average of 45.1 points per game. Their lowest point total is 24 (24-21 over King's College) and they have eclipsed the 50-point plateau five times, including last week's 55-7 triumph over FDU-Florham. Delaware Valley is also ranked seventh in the country in total offense, averaging 512.3 yards per game. It is a balanced attack with 300.3 yards per game passing (17th in Division III) and a conference-best 212 rushing yards per contest.

Meanwhile, the Widener defense is tops in the country in rushing, allowing 42.9 yards per outing. The unit allows just 10.1 points per game (sixth in Division III), including five contests where it has permitted seven or less points.

The Pride's offense is no slouch as they average 40.1 points (25th) and 464.4 yards (33rd) per game. They will be matched up against a young Delaware Valley defense that has overcome a rash of injuries and has improved all year, including the last three weeks where it has given up just a combined 35 points.

Delaware Valley's offense has been led all season by the senior trio of wide receiver Rasheed Bailey (Philadelphia, PA/Roxborough), quarterback Aaron Wilmer (Philadelphia, PA/George Washington) and tailback Chris Smallwood (Philadelphia, PA/Upper Moreland). The three continue to be ranked in the top 20 nationally in an incredible 17 categories, including three receiving categories where Bailey is number one in all of Division III.

Bailey leads the way in receiving yards (1,482) and receiving yards per game (164.7 avg) and receiving touchdowns (17). He is also ninth nationally in scoring (11.3 points per game) and 19th in all-purpose yardage (165.1 avg). His 66 catches is just outside the top 20 at number 23.

Bailey, who has also set or tied single-game school marks for receptions (11), yards (252) and touchdowns (4 – twice) this year, is coming off another big day as he hauled in 10 passes for 172 yards and two trips to the end zone against FDU-Florham. It marked the eighth time in nine games this year that Bailey went over the 110-yard mark and the fifth time he had eight or more receptions.

Wilmer has started for the Aggies since day one on campus and he holds a 34-7 record under center. He is also closing in on a major college milestone as he is just 376 passing yards shy from becoming the 25th player in college football history (all divisions) to pass for 10,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a career. Wilmer's current totals stand at 9,624 passing yards and 1,543 rushing yards for 11,167 yards of total offense. If Wilmer reaches the milestone, Delaware Valley would also become just the third school (Division I-FCS Montana State and Division II Grand Valley State are the others) to have two players on the list as Adam Knoblauch threw for 11,284 yards and rushed for 1,549 yards (12,833 yards of total offense) in his standout Aggie career (2002-05).

This season, Wilmer is ranked in eight separate categories, including passing yards per completion where he is second with18.4 yards per completion. He is also fourth in passing efficiency (194.3 rating), eighth in passing touchdowns (27), ninth in passing yards (2,695) and points responsible for (192), 11th in points responsible for per game (21.3 avg), 12th in passing yards per game (299.4 avg) and 16th in total offense (323.3 avg).

Wilmer has connected on 149 of 236 passes (63.1 percent) and has thrown just three interceptions on the year. He has also rushed for 215 yards and five scores. Wilmer was named to the MAC Honor Roll for his performance against FDU-Florham as he completed 18 of 28 passes for 283 yards and four touchdowns. It was his sixth game of 280 or more yards and the fourth time he tossed four or more touchdown passes.

Smallwood, in his first year as a starter, is third in Division III in rushing touchdowns (19), fifth in scoring (13.3 points per game) and eighth in both rushing yards (1,191) and rushing yards per game (132.3 avg). His 19th touchdown came against FDU-Florham and it set a new Aggie single-season record. It was also the sixth time that Smallwood eclipsed 100 yards in a game as he netted 101 yards on 16 carries. He also caught a touchdown pass in the game and has 21 receptions for 268 yards and that one score on the year.

On the defensive side of the ball, junior safety Danny Wynne (Hatfield, PA/North Penn) leads Delaware Valley with 87 tackles, including 42 solo stops. Six of the tackles came in last week's win over FDU-Florham. Wynne also has three pass breakups, two forced fumbles, one interception and one sack on the year.

Fellow junior Rashaad Lighty (Pottstown, PA/Pottstown) has 8.5 sacks from his outside linebacker position to lead the MAC and rank 20th in Division III. He had nine tackles and a sack last week and that upped his season total to 51 tackles.

Linebacker Frank Law (Wayne, NJ/Wayne Valley) is having a strong sophomore season with 53 tackles, five sacks and one fumble recovery to his credit. He had three tackles against FDU-Florham.

Another player to watch is junior linebacker Matt Smith (Lansdale, PA/Lansdale). Smith has 50 tackles, two interceptions and one sack on the year with two stops and one interception coming against FDU-Florham. Smith has also recovered four fumbles on the year which is the second in Division III and just one behind the leader.

Senior placekicker Brandon Snyder (Shillington, PA/Governor Mifflin) hit two field goals and six extra-points for a 12-point performance against FDU-Florham. The two field goals upped Snyder's career total to 21, tying the school's all-time record that was first set by Bill Miller from 2003 to 2006. This season, Snyder is 8-for-11 on field goal attempts and 50-for-54 on extra-point tries for 74 points on the year.

WIDENER UNIVERSITY

The Pride were picked fourth in the MAC preseason coaches' poll but, instead is playing for their first conference title since 2011 and the 20th in its proud football history that includes Division III national championships in both 1977 and 1981 (Widener's head coach for those national titles, Bill Manlove, is now an assistant for Delaware Valley).

This year's edition has yet to trail in any of its games and has won by 17 or more points in all eight of its MAC contests. The closest margin of victory for Widener was its season opener against non-conference foe Rowan University when the Pride forced seven turnovers, en route to a 19-7 road victory.

Widener's offense is led by sophomore quarterback Seth Klein, who has completed 149 of 236 passes (63.1 percent) for 2,280 yards. He has thrown 25 touchdown passes (18th in Division III) and has been intercepted just two times. Klein's 177.6 pass efficiency ranking is ninth-best in Division III. In last week's win at King's, he was 14-for-21 for 291 yards and two scores.

Klein's favorite target in returning All-American Anthony Davis. The senior wideout has hauled in 48 passes for 814 yards and eight touchdowns, including four grabs for 57 yards and a score last week. That performance helped him break the school's all-time record for receiving yards (3,525) Davis is also a threat on special teams as he has averaged 24.3 yards on seven kickoff returns and 13.8 yards on nine punt returns.

The Pride ground attack is paced by senior tailback Terrant Morrison. Morrison has netted 706 yards and five trips to the end zone on 121 carries, including 29 yards and one score on six carries at King's.

Widener's defense and special teams have combined for six touchdowns (three interceptions, three blocked kicks). Sophomore safety Sean Titus has two of those scores on seven interceptions. He has returned those picks for a combined 168 yards, including a 96-yard return for a touchdown against King's. Titus also had four stops in that game to up his season total to 33.

Senior linebackers Kevin Burns and Brandon Harper pace the squad with 59 and 58 tackles respectively while the two have combined for 6.5 sacks. Burns had six stops last week while Harper added a team-high seven.