November 22, 2014

Delaware Valley Football - Christopher Newport Clip Aggies 29-26

Image: John Green
DOYLESTOWN (PA) – Mason Studer connected on a 38-yard field goal with no time remaining as visiting Christopher Newport University rallied from a 19-point, second-half deficit and stunned Delaware Valley College, 29-26, in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Division III Football Championships.

The Captains, who are based in Virginia and who won the USA South Conference to earn a berth to the NCAAs, improved to 8-3 overall and will more than likely travel back to Pennsylvania next Saturday, November 29 to take on Widener University in the second round (the NCAA does not seed for the tournament and will officially announce the second-round hosts on Sunday). Widener, Delaware Valley’s archrival, used a last-second field goal of its own to defeat Muhlenberg College, 36-35.

For the Aggies, their season ends with a 9-2 overall record. They received an at-large berth to the NCAA playoffs after their loss to Widener for the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) title and it was their sixth overall trip to the NCAA playoffs and their 11th postseason journey in the last 12 years.

Christopher Newport was down 26-7 midway through the third quarter before rallying to tie the contest. The Captains then took over on their own 19-yard line with 1:24 remaining. Quarterback Marcus Morrast rushed for seven yards on first down and another 15 yards was tacked on due to a face mask penalty on Delaware Valley. A 17-yard run by Morrast put the ball in Aggie territory and he followed with rushes of one and seven yards for a third-and-two at the 34-yard line. Storm Parker got just enough for the first down and then picked up 11 yards and a first down at the Delaware Valley 21 as Christopher Newport called time with two seconds left. Studer came onto the field and, after a pair of Aggie timeouts, drilled the game-winner into the wind to set off a celebration and the Captains’ first NCAA playoff win since 2004.

Delaware Valley received a short opening kickoff and needed just seven plays to go 46 yards and into the end zone. Quarterback Aaron Wilmer capped the drive with a five-yard scoring run and a quick 7-0 lead just 3:21 into the contest.

Christopher Newport responded with a touchdown on its first offensive possession as Daquan Davis’s 11-yard burst into the end zone capped a six-play, 78-yard drive that tied it up at 7-7 with 8:22 left in the opening quarter.

Delaware Valley fumbled on its next possession and the Captains took over at their own 45-yard line. They drove to the Aggie 30 and tried a 47-yard field goal, but Studer’s kick was blocked by Danny Wynne and went out of bounds at midfield.

Delaware Valley wasted no time as Wilmer hit tight end Stephen Greco over the middle for a 48-yard pass down to the two-yard line. Wilmer then called his own number and scored. Brandon Snyder’s kick went off the right upright, but the Aggies had a 13-7 advantage with 1:32 to go in the first quarter.

Delaware Valley added to its lead as it went on a 12-play, 85-yard drive late in the half. The offense netted 72 yards on the ground, including Chris Smallwood’s seven yard push into the end zone with 3:31 on the clock. Snyder’s kick made it a 20-7 ballgame and it stayed that way going into the intermission.

In the second half, the Captains moved into Delaware Valley territory on their opening drive, but Aggie linebacker Matt Smith stripped wide receiver Rudy Rudolph of the ball and Wynne recovered at his own 31. Delaware Valley then went on a 13-play, 69-yard drive that took more than seven minutes off the clock. Smallwood found the end zone from six yards out on a third-and-one to cap the possession and up the Delaware Valley lead to 26-7 with 6:44 to go in the third.

From there, the game belonged to Christopher Newport, beginning with the ensuing possession that was a nine-play, 70-yard drive. Davis ended it with his second touchdown of the day, a four-yard run with 2:12 left in the quarter. The Captains went for two and failed, leaving the score at 26-13.

Delaware Valley was stopped on its next drive and, Christopher Newport took over on its own 16-yard line. Seven plays later, the Captains were in the end zone. Rudolph caught three passes from Morrast for 67 yards on the drive, including a 10-yard scoring strike, to pull the team to within six, 26-20, with 10:49 remaining.

Christopher Newport then went for an onsides kick and got it as John Johnson caught the ball in the air at the Aggie 45-yard line. The Captains moved the ball to the one on eight plays and then Morrast scored on a quarterback sneak with 6:26 remaining. However, Studer pulled the extra-point attempt wide to leave the game tied at 26-26. Studer got another chance at the end of the game and his field goal sent Christopher Newport into the second round.

The Captains netted 475 yards on the afternoon, including 297 in the second half. Their defense held the high-powered Aggies to 328 yards, including just 117 yards over the final 30 minutes.

Morrast completed 15 of 28 passes for 216 yards and one touchdown while also rushing for 108 yards and a score on 20 carries. Davis carried the ball 16 times for 80 yards and two trips to the end zone while Rudolph hauled in five passes for 79 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, Cameron Barlow and Shomari Wright had seven tackles apiece.

For Delaware Valley, the game marked the end of the brilliant careers of Wilmer and Rasheed Bailey. Wilmer reached a major college milestone with his first completion of the day, a 19-yard pass to Bailey on the opening drive, as he became the just 26th quarterback in NCAA history (all divisions) to pass for 10,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in career. He ended his four years with 10,157 passing yards and 1,638 rushing yards for 11,795 yards of total offense. For the game, Wilmer, who suffered an apparent leg injury late in the first half, was 12-for-26 for 164 yards, including just 8-for-20 for 72 yards after the injury. He had carried the ball times for 42 yards and two scores up to that point.

Bailey caught five passes for 73 yards. He entered the game as Division III leader in receiving yards and receiving touchdowns and finished his senior season with school record of 80 catches for 1,707 yards and 19 touchdowns. Bailey’s final career numbers stand at 165 reception (third in school history) for a school-record 3,138 yards and 29 scores (tied for second).

Smallwood carried the ball 22 times for 92 yards and two touchdowns, giving him a school-record 21 rushing touchdowns and 22 overall scores. Snyder, also a senior, became Delaware Valley’s all-time leading scorer as he finished with 206 points.

Defensively, Smith had a big afternoon with 12 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Wynne added 10 tackles, a fumble recovered and blocked kick.