November 18, 2014

Delaware Valley Football - Aggies vs Christopher Newport - NCAA Playoff Game Preview

Image: John Green
DOYLESTOWN (PA) – The Delaware Valley College football team will open the 2014 NCAA Division III Championships by hosting Christopher Newport University (Newport News, Virginia) for a first-round match-up on Saturday, November 22. Kickoff at Robert A. Lipinski Field at James Work Memorial Stadium is scheduled for 12:00 p.m.

(Fan advisory – Ticket booths will open at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday. Tickets prices, as per the NCAA are $8 for adults, $4 for students and free for children two and under. No complimentary passes are available for NCAA postseason games)

It’s the Aggies’ sixth trip to the NCAA tournament and their first since 2011. They have a 7-5 record in NCAA postseason games (7-3 at home) as they reached the quarterfinals in 2004 and 2005 and the second round three straight seasons from 2009 to 2011.

This year marked the first time that Delaware Valley did not automatically qualify for the NCAAs and it had to wait until Sunday evening’s NCAA webcast show to see if it received one of the six, at-large berths to the 32-team championship field.

The winner of Saturday’s contest will take on the winner of the Widener University-Muhlenberg College game in the second round on Saturday, November 29. Widener ended Delaware Valley’s perfect season with last Saturday’s 44-28 triumph in Chester, Pennsylvania, a game that determined the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) title.

The loss dropped the Aggies to 9-1 as they head into the postseason. And they will meet a Christopher Newport team that captured the USA South Conference championship and finished 7-3 overall.  It is the 10th NCAA appearance in 14 seasons of action for the Captains and this Saturday will mark their first-ever meeting with Delaware Valley.

Delaware Valley’s offense is ranked among the Division III leaders in a number of categories, including scoring where it is 11th with an average of 43.4 points per game. The unit has eclipsed the 50-point plateau five times while their lowest point total was 24 (24-21 win at King’s College). The Aggies are also ranked sixth in the country in total offense, averaging 513.8 yards per game. It is a balanced attack with 307.2 yards per game in the air (13th in Division III) and 206.6 yards per contest on the ground

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 16 different categories, including three receiving categories where Bailey is number one in all of Division III. 

Bailey leads the way in receiving yards (1,634), receiving yards per game (163.4 avg) and receiving touchdowns (19). He is also seventh nationally in scoring (11.4 points per game) while his 75 catches is just outside the top 20 at number 22.

Bailey has set or tied single-game school marks for receptions (11), yards (252) and touchdowns (4 – twice) this year while his NCAA-leading marks in receiving yards and touchdowns are also school records. Bailey’s 75 receptions is three shy from tying that single-season mark and he is also closing in on the all-time records of 3,118 yards and 31 touchdown catches. His career totals stands at 3,065 yards and 29 trips to the end zone.

Wilmer has started for the Aggies since day one on campus and he holds a 34-8 record under center. He is also just seven passing yards shy of becoming the 26th 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 9,993 passing yards and 1,596 rushing yards for 11,589 yards of total offense. If Wilmer reaches the milestone, Delaware Valley will 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 nationally in eight separate categories, including passing yards per completion where he is second with 17.7 yards per completion. He is also seventh in passing yards (3,064); eighth in passing efficiency (177.0 rating), passing touchdowns (30), and points responsible for (212); 11th in passing yards per game (306.4 avg); and 13th in total offense (333.2 avg) and points responsible for per game (21.2 avg). Wilmer has connected on 173 of 290 passes (59.7 percent) and has also rushed for 268 yards and five touchdowns.

Smallwood, in his first year as a starter, is fourth in Division III in rushing touchdowns (a school-record 19), fifth in scoring (12.0 points per game), 10th in rushing yards (1,295) and 13th in rushing yards per game (129.5 avg). He has gone over the 100-yark mark seven times this year, including 104 last week against Widener which entered the game as Division III’s top rushing defense. Smallwood has also caught 26 passes for 315 yards and one trip to the end zone.

Defensively, Delaware Valley allows averages of 25.4 points and 359.5 yards (144.7 avg rushing, 214.8 avg passing). The unit has notched 31 sacks and has forced 15 turnovers (eight fumble recoveries, seven interceptions).

Junior safety Danny Wynne (Hatfield, PA/North Penn) leads Delaware Valley with 99 tackles (52 solo). He also has three pass breakups, two forced fumbles, one interception, one sack and one blocked kick to his credit.

Fellow junior Rashaad Lighty (Pottstown, PA/Pottstown) has 8.5 sacks from his outside linebacker position. His season totals also include 52 tackles, one interception and one fumble recovery. He returned his interception 25 yards for a touchdown in last week’s big battle at Widener.  

Sophomore linebacker Frank Law (Wayne, NJ/Wayne Valley) is another defensive player to watch for Delaware Valley. He is second on the team in both tackles (62) and sacks (5) to go along with two pass breakups and one fumble recovery.


The Captains have notched a 97-50 overall record, including a 78-17 mark in the USA South Conference, since beginning NCAA intercollegiate play in 2001. They have played in 11 NCAA tournament games are 2-9 in those contests with second round appearances in both 2003 and 2004.

This year, Christopher Newport dropped its opening non-conference games to Salisbury University (41-32) and NCAA qualifier Hampden-Sydney College (35-30). The Captains then ran off seven wins in their eight conference outings, including a 37-27 triumph over Maryville College on November 8. That was their last regular-season game as they had a bye last week.

Christopher Newport’s offense averages 36.1 points per game and has surpassed the 30-point plateau nine times, including three contests of 40 or more points. The unit averages 188 yard per game on the ground and 236.3 yards per game in the air (424.3 total average).

Leading the offense is senior signal-caller Marcus Morrast. Morrast has completed 136 of 230 passes for 2,246 yards, 21 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. He is also the Captains’ leading rusher with 737 yards and 10 scores on 159 carries. Morrast had a game to remember this year against Methodist where he threw for 390 yards and rushed for another 191.

Morrast’s favorite target is fellow senior Rudy Rudolph as he has hauled in 63 passes for 1,289 yards (20.5 avg) and seven trips to the end zone. Rudolph’s yardage total ranks fifth in Division III as he has surpassed the 100-yard mark five times, including a nine-reception, 235-yard, three-touchdown effort against Greensboro.

Sophomore tailback Daquan Davis is right behind Morrast in the ground attack numbers as he has carried the ball 165 times for 718 yards and eight touchdowns.

On the defensive side of the ball, Christopher Newport is permitting 31.3 points and 408.8 yards (169.5 avg rushing, 239.3 avg passing) an outing and it has given up 25 or more points in eight of its 10 games. The unit has forced 20 turnovers with 11 interceptions and nine fumble recoveries.     

Junior outside linebacker Tyrell Eaton is the Captains’ leading tackler with 59 stops (39 solo). He has also recorded three pass breakups and two interceptions (45 yards).

Junior cornerback Cameron Barlow and junior tackle Shaun Copening are two other defensive players to watch for Christopher Newport. Barlow has 49 tackles and a team-high four interceptions, which he has returned for 91 yards and one touchdown. Copening paces the squad with five sacks and he also has 42 tackles, four pass breakups and two fumble recoveries to his credit.