November 15, 2017

Delaware Valley vs Western New England Game Preview

A MAC Football News "Game of the Week" Photo
DOYLESTOWN (PA) – After completing a perfect regular season and capturing the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) title for the seventh time since 2004, the fifth-ranked Delaware Valley University football team will host Western New England University in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs on Saturday, November 18. Kickoff is slated for noon at Robert A. Lipinski Field at James Work Memorial Stadium.


The Aggies concluded their 10-0 regular season with a 47-13 triumph over Widener University in the 37th edition of the Keystone Cup rivalry on November 11. The victory clinched the outright conference championship and automatic berth to the NCAAs. It also help DelVal maintain the fifth spot in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division III poll and the seventh spot in the D3football.com poll.

This will be the seventh NCAA Division III playoff appearance for the Aggies and the first since 2014. They reached the quarterfinals in 2004 and 2005 and were bumped out in the second round three straight time from 2009 to 2011. They had a first-round exit in ’14.

Offensively, DelVal is averaging 40.2 points per game (20th in Division III) and have gone over the 40-point mark in five of its last six contests (60-7 at FDU-Florham, 41-6 at Albright, 49-14 versus King’s, 51-7 at Miseriordia, 47-13 vs. Widener). It runs a balanced offense that averages 431.5 total yards per outing with 255.4 yards coming on the ground (16th in Division III) and 176.1 yards through the air.

Junior quarterback Dashawn Darden (Norristown, PA/Cardinal O’Hara) heads the unit as he prepares for the 28th consecutive start of his career. This season, he has completed 125 of 221 passes for 1,632 yards, 20 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He is also prominently featured in the run game with 575 yards (5.5 average) and seven scores on 104 attempts and seven scores. In his last outing against Widener, Darden rushed 17 times for 133 yards and seven scores while completing four of seven passes for 65 yards and a touchdown.  

2017 MAC Offensive Player of the Year and three-time all-MAC first-team tailback Devauntay Ellis (Ewing, NJ/Ewing) has racked up 1,141 yards on the ground and is 15th in Division III in rushing touchdowns with 16. He has eclipsed the 100-yard plateau in four games this year including a season-high 231 yard showing against Misericordia where he also found pay-dirt five times.   

Junior wideout Marquis Ellis (Owings Mills, MD/Franklin) heads a balanced group of receivers 27 catches for 373 yards (13.8 per reception) and seven touchdowns.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Aggies are ranked third in all of Division III as the unit is giving up just nine points per game. They are also ninth in defensive touchdowns (4), ninth in rushing defense (66.5 yards per game) and 12th in total defense (239 yards per game).

Fellow senior and team captain Nicholas DiGati (Townsend, DE/Middletown) leads the team in tackles with 74 (37 solo) from the linebacker position. He also has one forced fumble to his credit.

Senior safety and preseason All-American Shawn Miller (Laurel, DE/Laurel) is second on the team with 49 tackles and paces the unit with five interceptions (two touchdowns). He was named to the D3football.com Team of the Week as he had two picks in the win over Widener last week, including one that he returned 43 yards for a touchdown.

Jalen Mayes (Pottstown, PA/Pottsgrove), Jarren McBryde (Brigantine, NJ/Atlantic City)and Sammy Mohr (Lincoln, DE/Cape Henlopen) join Miller to round out a defensive back unit that has combined for 14 interceptions. McBryde has four picks to go with 35 tackles, four pass break ups and one forced fumble while Mayes and Mohr have 33 and 28 tackles respectively. Mayes has two interceptions and a forced fumble to his credit while Mohr leads the team with six pass break ups to go along with three picks. 

WESTERN NEW ENGLAND UNIVERSITY

The Golden Bears are making their third consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament, and fourth overall, after claiming the automatic bid via the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) championship.

Western New England claimed the conference title with a 42-28 triumph at Curry College on November 4 and finished the regular season 8-2 overall and 5-0 in conference play.

After a 1-2 start to the season, the Golden Bears have ripped off seven straight victories and have posted 40 points or more in four of those games.

The offense is averaging 33.9 points and 399.5 yards per game including averages of 206.2 yards passing and 193.3 yards rushing per showing.

Senior signal-caller Anthony Service was recently named the CCC co-Offensive Player of the Year. He has thrown for 1,936 yards and 19 touchdowns and just one interception this year while completing 56.6 percent (128-of-226) of his passes. Service has also rushed the ball more than any player on his team (114 times) and has accumulated 432 yards with five touchdowns.

Senior Dante Aiken and sophomore Peter Hoff split the load out of the backfield with Hoff getting 544 yards on 106 carries and six touchdowns and Aiken leading the team with eight rushing scores to go with 432 yards on 91 attempts.

Senior wideout Mark Dietrich is the primary target and has made 41 catches for 695 yards and eight touchdowns.

Defensively, Western New England is giving up 19.2 points and 366.1 yards (161 avg. rushing, 205.1 avg. passing) per game. The unit has totaled 11 interceptions, 15 sacks and one defensive touchdown.

Junior linebacker Mike Chirco leads the team with 77 tackles and has two fumble recoveries to his credit. Senior defensive back Sam Olsson has three picks and seven pass break ups and is second on the team in total tackles with 71.

Junior defensive lineman Sean Stergas leads the charge up front with five sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss to go with a forced fumble.

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