Oct 172010
 
University of Delaware RB Andrew Pierce

University of Delaware RB Andrew Pierce

October 17 bluehens.com:

NEWARK, Del. — The resounding sigh of relief heard throughout Delaware Stadium Saturday afternoon might have been stronger than the high winds that blew all afternoon.

No. 2 ranked University of Delaware won the turnover battle once again and it needed all three of the takeaways as the Blue Hens jumped out to a 17-0 lead but had to hold on down the stretch to remain unbeaten with a 24-17 Colonial Athletic Association football victory over upset-minded Rhode Island before a wind-swept sellout crowd of 22,567.

Delaware (7-0, 4-0 CAA), one of just four unbeaten teams in the nation at the Football Championship Subdivision level, held on to that distinction as freshman running back Andrew Pierce ran for 131 yards and two touchdowns, linebacker Paul Worrilow returned a fumble for a touchdown for the second straight week, and cornerback Marcus Burley came up with two big interceptions, including the game-clincher in the final minutes.

After falling behind 17-0, Rhode Island (2-4, 1-2, CAA) got back into the game thanks to a 75-yard kickoff return by Travis Hurd late in the first half, but could never get closer than a touchdown the rest of the way and dropped its 10th straight road game since 2009.

“At times it seemed like everything was coming apart for us today,” said Delaware head coach K.C. Keeler, whose team had defeated Rhode Island each of the three previous meetings by an average win margin of 27 points. “But our kids hung together and found a way to get it done. It’s tough to win in this league and Rhode Island did a great job today. Fortunately our kids have done a great job of creating turnovers. We have some things we need to clean up, but it was great to get the win.”

Delaware, which entered the game ranked No. 3 in the nation in turnover margin with a +9 ranking, defeated Maine 26-7 last week thanks to three turnovers, including an 11-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Worrilow. The Hens have won 81 percent of their games when tying or winning the turnover battle in nine seasons under Keeler.

Pierce, the nation’s leading freshman rusher at 124.8 yards per game and a four-time CAA Rookie of the Week, picked up his fifth 100-yard effort of the season as he carried 26 times for 131 yards and scored on runs of 15 yards to open the scoring four minutes into the game and one-yard late in the first half to stake the Hens to a 24-7 lead. All-American quarterback Pat Devlin also spearheaded the offense as he completed 18 of 23 passes for 161 yards.

The Delaware defense, which entered the game leading all NCAA Division I teams in scoring defense at 6.5 points per game, allowed a season-high 17 points, but did its job by forcing the three turnovers, including Burley’s second interception of the game with 3:13 left to play that ended Rhode Island’s last-ditch drive.

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