January 7 bluehens.com:
FRISCO, Tex. — In the end, another national championship was just not in the cards for the University of Delaware football team.
The No. 5 ranked Blue Hens, who were looking to capture their seventh national championship in school history, held a 19-0 lead until late in the third quarter, but a torrid comeback by Eastern Washington that included three touchdowns passes by Bo Levi Mitchell over the final 17 minutes resulted in a 20-19 setback in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Friday night at Pizza Hut Park.
“We obviously lost to a pretty good football team tonight,” said Delaware head coach K.C. Keeler, who was looking to guide the Hens to their first NCAA championship since 2003. “I don’t think I’ve ever been associated with a loss like this. We pretty much dominated the first half but our concern was not having enough points on the board. We knew Eastern Washington was a big play team and you just waited for them to make a couple of big plays. We had some opportunities to put the ballgame away and we didn’t but the ballgame away.”
The top-ranked Eagles (13-2), who captured their first-ever national championship in football with a school-record 11th straight victory, converted a disputed fourth down play deep inside Delaware territory and scored what proved to be the game-winner with 2:47 left when Mitchell hooked up with Brandon Kaufman for an 11-yard touchdown to tie the game and Mike Jarrett’s extra point put Eastern Washington ahead.
“To lose by one point in the national championship game is pretty tough,” said Delaware sixth-year senior linebacker Matt Marcorelle.
The Blue Hens (12-3), who had a three-game win streak snapped, had jumped out to a 19-0 lead on a short touchdown run by freshman Andrew Pierce and two field goals by Mike Perry in the first half and on a one-yard dive by David Hayes with 7:12 left in the third stanza. But the Hens just couldn’t put any more points on the board.
Eastern Washington, which averaged 32.3 points per game during the season, finally found its offense behind the play of Mitchell, who completed 29 of 43 passes for 302 yards and three touchdowns. He hit Kaufman on a 22-yard scoring pass with 1:48 left in the third quarter to get the Eagles on the board and added a nine-yard strike to Nicholas Edwards with 8:16 left in the game before firing the key touchdown toss to Kaufman less than six minutes later.
Kaufman’s winning catch was set up after Eastern Washington converted a fourth down at the Delaware 22-yard line on a one-yard dive by Mario Brown. The Eagles were granted a first down by the official but Keeler challenged the spot and the decision moved up to the replay booth. The ball was re-spotted but was still enough to continue the drive. After an incomplete pass, Mitchell hit Edwards on an 11-yard pass to the 11-yard line and followed with the pivotal 11-yard touchdown toss to Kaufman.
“We stopped them,” said Keeler of the fourth down play. “There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. The way the ball was spotted originally was a first down, but the chain was not on the 22-yard line, it was past it. I usually don’t complain about things like that but that one hurt. It really did.”
Delaware had one last chance to pull out the victory but Pat Devlin’s fourth down pass to Mark Schenauer came up short of a first down at the Eastern Washington 39-yard line with 47 seconds remaining. The Eagles then ran out the clock to set off a wild celebration in front of 13,027 fans.
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