November 14 bluehens.com:
AMHERST, Mass. — The University of Delaware offense played the starring role Saturday as the Blue Hens piled up 510 yards of total offense and quarterback Pat Devlin threw touchdown passes to four different receivers in a 45-27 football victory over Massachusetts on a perfect autumn day at McGuirk Stadium.
And not only did they cruise to their second straight victory, the #2/1 ranked Blue Hens (9-1, 6-1 CAA) clinched at least a share of the Colonial Athletic Association title – their first since 2004 – as William & Mary dropped a 30-24 decision to James Madison Saturday. The Blue Hens can gain the CAA title outright and claim the league’s automatic NCAA playoff berth with a victory in the regular season finale next Saturday vs. rival Villanova at Delaware Stadium.
Devlin, who this week was named a Top 10 finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award as the top quarterback in the nation, proved worthy of that lofty honor as he completed 16 of 22 passes for 240 yards and matched a career-high with four touchdowns, hitting Rob Jones, Andrew Pierce, Phillip Thaxton, and Colin Naugle on scoring tosses.
The Hens got the job done on the ground as well as David Hayes, playing his first game since Oct. 9 due to an ankle injury, enjoyed an impressive return as he rushed for a career-high 107 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown burst up the middle in the third quarter. Pierce, the nation’s leading freshman runner at the FCS level, added 66 yards on the ground. Devlin also ran for a career-high 55 yards and Leon Jackson picked up 45 as the Hens totalled 270 yards on the ground.
No. 14/13 Massachusetts (6-4, 4-3 CAA), who will most likely need a win over Rhode Island in their season finale next week to earn a post-season berth, had a two-game win streak snapped despite putting up 27 points and 424 yards on a Delaware defense that entered the game ranked No. 1 in the nation in scoring defense at 8.1 points per game.
UMass, which entered the game with the CAA’s top-rated offense at 401.6 yards per game, posted the highest point and total yardage totals all season against the Blue Hens. Delaware had allowed a previous high of 17 points vs. Rhode Island and William & Mary and a high of 350 yards to William & Mary. The Minutemen had surpassed the 350-yard mark by the middle of the third quarter Saturday.
“This is a great accomplishment for our kids,” said Delaware head coach K.C. Keeler, who earned his third conference title in nine seasons at the helm of the Blue Hens. “To be champions in the best conference in America is a big deal. This is exciting for us. We beat a good football team today. UMass gave us some trouble today and we missed some tackles, which is really the first time that has happened all season. But we got together at halftime and decided to just keep things simple and not think too much.”
Delaware piled up 501 yards of total offense, the Hens’ second highest total of the season and the second straight week they have reached that mark after gaining a season-high 589 yards in the 48-0 victory over Towson last Saturday. The Hens also converted on 11 of 17 third downs.
Despite allowing big yardage totals, the Delaware defense did come up big when it needed to. Massachusetts converted just 2 of 12 third down opportunities on the day and the Hens forced two turnovers – including a fumble recovery and an interception in the end zone by sophomore linebacker Kyle Hunte, a first-year transfer from Northeastern who saw his most extensive action of the season.
But the real star of the day was Devlin, who put forth another outstanding effort with his third straight 200-yard passing effort and fifth of the season. The smart and steady senior shook off his first interception since Sept. 25 – snapping the third longest streak in UD history at 157 – by throwing four touchdown passes for the second straight year against the Minutemen. He found eight different receivers on the day.
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