November 4, 2014

Delaware Valley Football - Aggies vs FDU-Florham Preview

Image: John Green

DOYLESTOWN (PA) – The undefeated and nationally-ranked Delaware Valley College football team will look to give its 18 seniors a win in the final regular-season home game of their careers as the Aggies host FDU-Florham on Saturday, November 8. Kickoff at Robert A. Lipinski Field at James Work Memorial Stadium for the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) contest is set for 1:00 p.m.

The Aggie senior class has posted a 34-8 record over their time with one MAC championship, one ECAC title, and three postseason appearances (one NCAA, two ECAC). The group is almost certain to get a postseason bid of some kind this year and they are guaranteed a shot at the conference crown and NCAA bid this year, no matter the outcome of this week’s game. In fact, Delaware Valley can clinch at least a share of the MAC title with a win over FDU-Florham combined with Widener University loss at King’s College

Delaware Valley and Widener sit atop the MAC standings with identical 8-0 overall records and 7-0 marks in conference play. The archrivals will meet on the Pride’s home turf in next week’s regular-season finale.

The Aggies remained undefeated and tied for first as they survived a comeback attempt from King’s College and held on for the 24-21 win in Wilkes-Barre last Saturday. Delaware Valley jumped out to a 17-0 lead but the Monarchs rallied to trail by just three and drove down the field in the closing moments. Their game-tying 39-yard field goal attempt on the last play of the game fell short in the wind.

Delaware Valley is one of just 17 teams in all of Division III to have not a lost a game this season. The Aggies moved up one spot to 17th in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) poll and two spots to No. 19 in the top 25 poll.

Delaware Valley’s high-powered offense continues to lead the MAC and ranks among the top 20 in all of Division III in three major categories: scoring (10th – 43.9 avg), total yardage (10th – 504.8 avg) and passing (18th – 302.0 avg). Meanwhile, the running game is also tops in the conference with an average of 202.8 yards per contest.

Heading the offense is the dynamic skill position trio of senior wide receiver Rasheed Bailey (Philadelphia, PA/Roxborough), senior quarterback Aaron Wilmer (Philadelphia, PA/George Washington) and senior tailback Chris Smallwood (Philadelphia, PA/Upper Moreland). The three are ranked in the top 20 in an incredible 17 categories, including four where they are number one in all of Division III. They are in the top five in three other categories and in the top 10 in two more.

Bailey leads the country in receiving yards (1,310) and receiving yards per game (163.8 avg) while his 15 receiving touchdowns has him tied for the top spot. He is also eighth in the country in scoring (11.3 avg) and 19th in all-purpose yardage (164.2 avg). The yardage and touchdowns figures are already Aggie single-season records while his 56 catches is tied for seventh (the record is 78 by David Carmon in 13 games in 2004).

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 five passes for 115 yards and two scores at King’s.

Wilmer, who is 33-7 as a starter in his standout career, has moved into the top spot in Division III with an average of 18.4 yards per completion. He is also fourth in passing efficiency (194.0 rating), ninth in points responsible for (168), 11th in passing yards (2,412) and passing yards per game (301.5 avg), 13thin total offense (328.4 avg), 14th in passing touchdowns (23) and 15th in points responsible for per game (21.0 avg).

Wilmer has connected on 131 of 208 passes (63.0 percent) and has thrown just three interceptions on the year. He has also rushed for 215 yards and five scores. In the win at King’s, he was 13-for-28 for 217 yards and the two touchdowns to Bailey.

Smallwood was named to the MAC Honor Roll for his performance against King’s as he racked up 169 yards and a score on 30 carries. The touchdown was his 18th of the season and it tied the school’s single-season record that Matt Cook set in 12 games in 2010. It also moved him to third nationally in rushing touchdowns and fifth in the country in scoring (13.5 avg).

Smallwood is also 11th in Division III in both rushing yards (1,090) and rushing yards per game (136.2 avg) and he has accomplished those figures on just 182 carries. He has also caught 20 passes out of the backfield for 206 yards.

Defensively, Delaware Valley is sixth in the conference in points allowed (25.4 avg), seventh in both rushing (146.5 avg) and total yardage (369.8 avg) and ninth in passing (223.3 avg). The unit is third in the MAC and 10th nationally in sacks with 28.

The Aggie defense also has a national leader as junior linebacker Matt Smith (Lansdale, PA/Lansdale) is tied with four others in Division III with four fumble recoveries. He recovered one off the first play of the King’s game and Delaware Valley turned it into points just two minutes later. Smith also had 10 tackles in the game to give him 48 on the season.

Junior safety Danny Wynne (Hatfield, PA/North Penn) also had 10 tackles at King’s to up his season total to a conference best 81. He also has three pass breakups, two forced fumbles, one interception and one sack on the year.

Sophomore lineman Aric Boyes (Parksville, NY/Tri-Valley) is coming off his best collegiate game as he recorded nine tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble at King’s. He is third on the team in sacks with four and he also has 31 tackles to his credit.

Junior linebacker Rashaad Lighty (Pottstown, PA/Pottstown) added 1.5 sacks last week and he is second in the MAC with 7.5 quarterback takedowns. Lighty also had 42 tackles on the year, including seven at King’s.

The Devils are still searching for their first win of the season as they are 0-8 overall and 0-7 in the MAC. They dropped a narrow, 17-13 decision to The College of New Jersey in the season-opener, but have fallen by 18 or more points in all of their league contests.

The latest setback for FDU-Florham was a 63-21 home contest to Lebanon Valley College last Saturday. The Devils were tied with the Flying Dutchmen at 14-14 late in the second quarter before Lebanon Valley scored a touchdown on the last play of the half and it began a run of 21 unanswered points and 49 of the last 56 points.

FDU-Florham averages 11.5 points and 250.5 yards per game. Its offensive unit is fifth in the conference in passing with 225.6 yards per game, but it is managing a MAC-low 24.9 yards per outing on the ground.

Junior Tyler Maurer is the Devils’ quarterback and he has completed 141 of 226 passes (62.4 percent) for 1,537 yards, six touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Against Lebanon Valley, he was 24-for-38 for 295 yards and one touchdown while also rushing for a score. However, he was intercepted four times.

Freshman Malik Pressley is Maurer’s favorite target as he has hauled in 54 passes for 606 yards and four trips to the end zone. He racked up seven catches for 108 yards against Lebanon Valley.

Anthony Ognibene heads the ground attack as the junior has netted 226 yards and four touchdowns on 68 carries. He has also caught 29 passes out of the backfield for 259 yards. He had 136 all-purpose yards and one score against Lebanon Valley thanks to 66 rushing yards and a touchdown on 13 carries and another 70 yards on nine receptions.

On the defensive side of the ball, FDU-Florham permits averages of 42.1 points and 428.9 yards (235.3 rushing, 194.6 passing) per game. The unit has managed just five turnovers (three interceptions, two fumble recoveries) all season.

Sophomore cornerback Jaleel Tyson is the team’s leading tackler with 45 stops on the year. He also has one interception. Tyson had six stops against Lebanon Valley.

Junior free safety Chris Fitzgerald and senior linebacker Rob Savacool are two others players to watch as they have 43 and 42 tackles respectively. Fitzgerald, who also has an interception on the year, racked up a team-best 11 tackles last week while Savacool was right behind with 10 stops.