Hills runs wild as Blue Hens dom­i­nate Del State to open sea­son

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By SEAN GROGAN

sgro­gan@ce­cil­whig.com

— The first drive of the 2016 sea­son was a me­thod­i­cal one for the Univer­sity of Delaware foot­ball team.

The Blue Hens marched down field on a 10-play, 74-yard scor­ing drive to find the end zone less than five minutes into the game. Delaware State’s sec­ond of­fen­sive play of the night was an in­ter­cep­tion by UD de­fen­sive end John Nas­sib, and 11 plays later, the Hens were in the end zone again.

The on­slaught was only be­gin­ning. Delaware dom­i­nated its in­state ri­val 56-14 in front of 17,835 fans at Delaware Sta­dium – the pro­gram’s 300th all-time win at its home field.

“We ran the ball with power and au­thor­ity like I felt we could and would and it set the tone for the game,” coach Dave Brock said. “What I saw was what I’ve seen in train­ing camp trans­lat­ing to the game. I’ve seen it all of train­ing camp – I wasn’t sur­prised by what I saw tonight, but to see it in a game and to have it trans­late into this sta­dium and un­der the lights, that’s some­thing that we all needed to see.”

Ju­nior run­ning back Wes Hills led a rush­ing at­tack that gained 395 yards on the ground, the most in Brock’s four-year ten­ure and the pro­gram’s most since 2000. Hills gained 212 yards him­self on just 19 car­ries, av­er­ag­ing bet­ter than 11 yards per rush. He scored a pair of first-half touch­downs – a 13-yard score to bring the Hens’ lead to 21-0 with 8:19 in the half

NE­WARK, DEL.

and 59-yard bolt to end zone less than four minutes later. Hills’ 59yard score came on a di­rect snap one play af­ter wide re­ceiver Jamie Jar­mon dropped a sure touch­down on a beau­ti­fully thrown pass from sopho­more quar­ter­back Joe Walker.

Hills missed last sea­son with a bro­ken foot.

“That was a year’s worth of frus­tra­tion out there,” he said. “Delaware foot­ball is back. There’s no more talk, no more words, we wanted to go out there and show with ac­tion. Ac­tions speak louder than words.”

Walker, who strug­gled as a fresh­man, com­pleted six of nine passes for 66 yards. He com­pleted a 25-yard touch­down pass to Diante Cherry nearly six minutes into the third quar­ter that brought the score to 42-0. Cherry caught the pass de­spite be­ing closely guarded and man­aged to tap his foot in­bounds be­fore fall­ing to the turf. Walker threw one touch­down pass all of last sea­son.

Walker also picked up a one-yard rush­ing touch­down in the first quar­ter.

Run­ning back Jalen Ran­dolph scored twice – a two-yard touch­down for the game’s first points and one from four yards out of half­time that was set up by a 44yard carry by Hills.

Delaware’s de­fense held the Hor­nets to 184 to­tal yards, in­clud­ing just 35 on the ground. The Hens in­ter­cepted four passes and gen­er­ated six turnovers.

Ju­nior line­backer An­thony Jack­son picked off two of those throws.

“In the de­fen­sive room, we preach about blood in the wa­ter: Play like pi­ra­nhas,” Jack­son said. “That’s what we did tonight and it’s just a beau­ti­ful thing to see it un­fold.”

Two key trans­fers made their im­pact felt in a big way in their first games in a Delaware uni­form on con­sec­u­tive plays. Tight end and Rut­gers trans­fer Charles Scarff caught two passes, in­clud­ing a 10-yard touch­down from backup quar­ter­back Blake Rankin on the fi­nal play of the third quar­ter. Rankin also trans­ferred to Delaware from Rut­gers two years ear­lier.

Penn State trans­fer and Delaware na­tive Troy Reeder then picked off a pass on the first play of the fourth pe­riod and re­turned it 13 yards for a de­fen­sive touch­down.

“[I was] thrilled with how they played, but cer­tainly not sur­prised,” Brock said of Scarff and Reeder. “They’ve prac­ticed that way all of train­ing camp.”

The Blue Hens’ 56 points were the most since they put up 59 with Joe Flacco un­der cen­ter in 2007. Iron­i­cally, Delaware lost that game.

Fol­low Sean Grogan on Twit­ter: @Sean_Ce­cilWhig

UD ATH­LET­ICS PHOTO BY MARK CAMP­BELL

An­thony Jack­son (11) cel­e­brates one of his two in­ter­cep­tions on the night.

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