Nov. 7, 2009

Courtesy of Delaware Valley

DOYLESTOWN (PA) – The Delaware Valley College football team clinched at least a share of the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) championship and, more importantly, its automatic berth to the NCAA Division III playoffs as the Aggies scored the first 31 points of the game and routed previously unbeaten and No. 18 Albright College, 45-16.

Delaware Valley, which is ranked in the D3football.com poll and 24th in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) poll, improved its record to 8-1 overall and a perfect 6-0 in the MAC. The Aggies have one regular-season contest remaining with a trip to archrival Widener University next Saturday, and can win the outright conference crown with a win. However, they will head to the NCAA playoffs no matter the outcome of that game as all the tiebreakers favor them. It is their second straight MAC title and the fourth (solo or shared) in the last six seasons while the NCAA appearance will be their third and the first since 2005.

Albright entered the game with a perfect 8-0 overall record (5-0 MAC), ranked in the top 20 in the coaches’ poll and ranked first in the NCAA East Region rankings. The Lions also had a shot at clinching a share of the conference title, but will now need to defeat Lebanon Valley (8-1, 5-1) next week and have Delaware Valley lose at Widener for that to happen. Both Albright and Lebanon Valley are very much in the picture to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA playoffs.

Saturday’s contest featured the two top ranked defenses in the conference and two of the top three offenses as well. However, Delaware Valley dominated on both sides of the ball, especially in the first half when it jumped out to a 24-0 lead. The Aggies finished with 426 yards of offense compared to the Albright’s 290, but most of the Lions’ yardage came long after the game was decided.

Delaware Valley scored on its second possession of the game as it used a five-play, 69-yard drive to reach the end zone. The drive was capped when sophomore wideout Isaiah Hall, a quarterback in high school, took the snap on a wildcat formation and made a host of defenders miss him, en route to a 25-yard touchdown run. Jake Sobchak added the extra point for a 7-0 lead with 7:01 left in the opening quarter.

On the ensuing possession, Albright quarterback Tanner Kelly was hammered by Aggie safety Ryan McCullough on a passing play and the loose ball was recovered by linebacker Mike Jaskowski at the Lion 30. Delaware Valley brought in its backup quarterback Mark Hatty to run a few plays (Hatty subbed for starter Mike Isgro last week as Isgro recovered from an injury) and he completed a 15-yard pass to Rodney Blango and ran a draw play 14 yards to put the ball at the one-yard line. Tailback Matt Cook took care of the remaining yard and Sobchak added the extra-point for a 14-0 Aggie advantage just 91 seconds after the opening score.

The Aggies forced Albright to punt and took over on their own 30-yard line. Ten plays later, they were back in the end zone as this time Cook caught a pass from Isgro and bulled his way into the end zone from seven yards out. Sobchak added the kick and Delaware Valley was up 21-0 with 13:41 remaining in the first half.

Albright moved the ball on the ensuing possession and, 14 plays later, found itself with a first-and-goal at the Aggie two-yard line. The Lions lost a yard on the first play but a Kelly scramble put the ball at the one. Ty Hughes was stuffed by the Delaware Valley defense for no gain, forcing a fourth down. Albright elected to go for the touchdown and, on the 18th play of the drive, Josan Holmes was dropped by Jaskowski and Garrett Wooters for a two-yard loss and a loss of downs.

The Aggies reached their own 44-yard line, but were forced to punt. Albright’s Dave Harig fumbled the kick and Delaware Valley’s Chad Peterman recovered it at the Lion 9. The Aggies reached the three-yard line and settled for a 20-yard field goal by Sobchak and a 24-0 advantage with 1:11 left in the first half.

Albright received the opening kickoff of the second stanza and drove the Delaware Valley 37-yard line, but Kelly was intercepted for just the second time all season as Jake Phillips picked him off at the 23. A 33-yard run by Cook put the ball in Lion territory and he later completed the eight-play, 77-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown run and a 31-0 score with 8:25 to go in the third.

Albright got on the scoreboard midway through the fourth as Kelly hit Sean Caldwell for a three-yard touchdown pass and then also found him for the two-point conversion and a 31-8 ballgame. The onsides kick was recovered by the Aggies and they needed just five plays to go 41 yards and senior fullback Butch Whiteside capped it with a three-yard touchdown run with 3:40 remaining.

Both teams would score one more time as Kelly connected with Scott Pillar for a 20-yard touchdown and then hit Luke Wallace for the two-point conversion attempt with 1:31 remaining. The Lions tried another onsides kick and this time the Aggies not only recovered it but ran it back for a touchdown as Charles Squitiere picked up the score just five seconds later. It was Squitiere’s third return for a score this year as the senior had a 90-yard interception return for a touchdown against Kean and a 100-yard return of a missed field goal against Widener.

Cook carried the ball 15 times for 97 yards and two touchdowns while also hauling in a score. Isgro’s return to the lineup saw him complete 11 of 18 passes for 163 yards and one touchdown. Peterman had four receptions for 49 yards.

On the defensive side of the ball, Squitiere had a game-high 10 tackles while McCullough had eight stops and the big sack and forced fumble. Junior linebacker Kyle Gesswein recorded a sack to tie the school’s all-time record of 26 held by Anthony Silver (2002-05).

Kelly completed 34 of 51 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns, with 150 of the yards coming in the fourth quarter. He was also sacked six times. Nate Romig had 10 catches for 95 yards while Caldwell added nine grabs for 57 yards and a score. As a team, Albright was held to just 16 net yards on the ground. Brendan Bresnahan had eight tackles to pace the Lion defense.