Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Delaware Valley University vs Husson In Second Round NCAA Playoffs

A MAC Football News "Game of the Week" Photo
DOYLESTOWN (PA) – The unbeaten Delaware Valley University football will roll into the second round of the NCAA Division III Playoffs for the sixth time in program history as the Aggies play host to visiting Husson University on Saturday, November 25. Kickoff is set for noon at Robert A. Lipinski Field at James Work Memorial Stadium.

DelVal finished the regular season a perfect 10-0 with nine Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) victories and entered the NCAA playoffs ranked fifth in the country in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division III poll and seventh in the poll. Last week it claimed its 11th victory of the 2017 campaign and eighth NCAA win in program history with a 35-0 home shutout of Western New England University.

The Aggies are 2-3 in NCAA second round games as they advanced to the quarterfinals in 2004 and 2005 and fell three straight times from 2009 to 2011.

The DelVal offense is averaging just under 40 points per game (39.73) and have surpassed the 40-point mark in five contests (60-7 at FDU-Florham, 41-6 at Albright, 49-14 versus King’s, 51-7 at Misericordia, 47-13 vs. Widener). The ground attack is putting up 241.4 yards per outing while the Aggies net 177.8 yards per game through the air to amount to 419.2 total yards of offense per contest with 23 touchdowns. 

Junior quarterback Dashawn Darden (Norristown, PA/Cardinal O’Hara) has completed 132 of 236 passes for 1,827 yards, 21 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He is also prominently featured in the run game with 591 yards (6.6 average) on 113 attempts and seven scores.

2017 MAC Offensive Player of the Year and three-time all-MAC first-team tailback Devauntay Ellis (Ewing, NJ/Ewing) leads the backfield with 1,155 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground. He has eclipsed the 100-yard plateau in four games this year, including a season-high 231 yard showing against Misericordia where he also found paydirt five times. He played just two snaps in last week’s win over Western New England, but is slated to take on a full load this Saturday.   

Six different receivers have caught 10 or more passes this year including, junior wideout Marquis Ellis (Owings Mills, MD/Franklin) who leads the group with 28 receptions for 380 yards (13.6 per reception) and seven touchdowns.

Sophomore Aaron Nelson (Hampstead, MD/North Carroll) has been a deep threat all year, averaging 24.6 yards on 13 receptions. He and fellow sophomore Dan Allen (Philadelphia, PA/Penn Wood) have accumulated over 300 yards receiving with four touchdowns apiece.

With their second shutout of the year over the Golden Bears on Saturday, the DelVal defensive unit moved up to second place in all of Division III with just 8.2 points allowed per game. The Aggies rank sixth for both defensive touchdowns (6) and red zone defense (.522) and 12th in both  rushing defense (74.9 yards per game) and total defense (249.5 yards per game).

Senior safety and preseason All-American Shawn Miller (Laurel, DE/Laurel) had an 84-yard interception return -, his team-leading sixth pick of the season (two for touchdowns) - and eight tackles to give him 57 for the year. He has three interceptions and 12 tackles in the last two games. 

Fellow senior and team captain Nicholas DiGati (Townsend, DE/Middletown) paces the squad with 87 tackles (44 solo) from the linebacker position, including 13 last week against Western New England. He also has one sacksone forced fumble to his credit.

Three fellow seniors start alongside DiGati at linebacker in Michael Ockimey (Philadelphia, PA/Monsignor Bonner), TJ Waters (Philadelphia, PA/West Catholic) and Nick Wright (Hatfield, PA/North Penn) and they have racked up 45, 45 and 47 tackles respectively. Ockimey leads the group with 3.5 sacks, six pass break ups, and three fumble recoveries to go with eight tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Five of Waters’ tackles have come behind the line of scrimmage.

Wright has 8.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, four pass break ups, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and a safety to his credit. He has also scored 20 points single handedly this year with a fumble return for a touchdown, an interception return for a score, a safety on defense and a blocked punt return for a touchdown on special teams.

Jalen Mayes (Pottstown, PA/Pottsgrove), Jarren McBryde (Brigantine, NJ/Atlantic City) and Sammy Mohr (Lincoln, DE/Cape Henlopen) join Miller to round out the secondary that has combined for 17 interceptions, including nine in the last three games. Mohr has four picks himself in the last three games including two against Western New England where he returned one 100 yards for a score, tying a school record. Each defensive back has more than 30 tackles on the year.


The Eagles are coming off their first NCAA tournament victory after a 23-21 upset win over #19/#20 Springfield College last Saturday that propelled them into the second round for the first time.

Husson earned its third automatic qualifier into the tournament in the last four years by virtue of winning the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC). Its 10 wins (10-1) is the most in program history while the one loss was a 21-14 setback to Western New England – DelVal’s first-round opponent – back in week three.

The Eagles went a perfect 7-0 in conference games and scored 40 or more points in six of those contests, including a 70-point outburst in a win over Anna Maria and a 63-0 shutout of Alfred State.

The offense is averaging 39.9 points per game while gaining 440.1 yards of total offense per game. On the ground they average 262.9 yards per showing while throwing for 177.2 yards per clip.

Senior tailback John Smith leads the charge and he leads all of Division III with 2,081 total rushing yards and 189.6 rushing yards per game. He has 308 carries this year and his 30 rushing touchdowns ranks second in the country. He has eclipsed 100 yards rushing in every game but one this season and has four outings of 200 or more yards, including a season-high 301 yards at Endicott.

The Eagles’ signal-caller is junior Cory Brandon who has thrown for 1,827 yards, 16 touchdowns and five interceptions this year while completing 63.6 percent (147-of-231) of his passes.

Freshman wide receiver Kyree Calli leads the team with 38 receptions for 466 yards and five touchdowns followed by junior Kyle Gaudet and his 31 receptions for 451 yards and four scores. Smith has caught 11 balls out of the backfield for 102 yards.

Defensively, Husson ranks 12th in the country with 12.1 points allowed per game and fifth in total defense, surrendering just 221.6 yards per outing. It allows its opponents to gain just 94.4 yards per game on the ground and 127.3 yards per game through the air.

Junior linebacker Elvin Suazo, Jr. has two forced fumbles and two fumbles recoveries while leading the group with 80 tackles and 5.5 sacks. Senior Jean Gabriel leads the secondary with four interceptions, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries to go with eight pass break ups, 7.5 tackles for loss and three sacks.

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