Sunday, June 9, 2024

Delaware beats Villanova at the first-ever college football game at PPL Park

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By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher

Chester, Pa. – The University of Delaware was able to finally beat Villanova. The Blue Hens had lost five straight games against the Wildcats coming into the game.

The last Delaware win came on November 19th, 2005 when Villanova won 38-13. But that win streak was snapped yesterday afternoon.

Football (Photo by Pixabay)

The Blue Hens were able to defeat the Wildcats, 26-16, at PPL Park.

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“I’ve lost 5 in a row to these guys and don’t think I don’t know it,” said Delaware head coach K.C. Keeler. “We had won three in a row before we got into a streak, where they beat us five. That had to stop and luckily, it stopped (yesterday).”

The Blue Hens were able to take the “Battle of the Blue” trophy back to Newark, Delaware. The win also tied the all-time series at 12 apiece.

The game was also the first-ever American football game at PPL Park. PPL Park has previously hosted Philadelphia Union and the US Collegiate Rugby Championship games.

Villanova would like to call PPL Park it’s home for future games, according to head coach Andy Talley.

“I’m crazy about the idea,” he said. “I’ve talked to our Athletic Director Vince Nicastro about it. I think it’s a matter of discussion. PPL Park has been great to us and I know our fans liked it. It was tremendous to play in this atmosphere. I’m hoping we make a strong determination to come back here again.”

The Delaware defense was able to seal the game and put the game out of reach with an interception returned for a touchdown. Ricky Tunstall picked off Villanova freshman quarterback Chris Polony and returned it for a 54-yard touchdown.

“We were playing man-to-man defense,” said Tunstall. “And my guy ran an out route. I saw the quarterback’s eyes and where he was throwing it, so I happened to jump it. When I caught it, my wide receiver days flicked in.”

The touchdown put Delaware up 10 points. And Villanova was not able to make a comeback after a failed field goal in the final 51 seconds.

Once the missed field goal happened, Delaware ran out the clock.

“I have to get smarter with the football,” said Villanova quarterback Polony of the interception to Tunstall. “I got a little greedy that I shouldn’t have.”

Before the interception, Sean Baner was able to tie the game and eventually make the game-winning kick. With 2:11 left in the game, Baner kicked a 29-yard field goal to give the Blue Hens a 19-16 lead after a 9 play, 39-yard drive.

“I saw that coach Keeler looked at me real quick,” said Baner. “I noticed the formation and I saw that AP (Andrew Pierce) was rushing the ball. I knew the coach has faith in me to do this and I could make this. To be honest, I wasn’t even nervous. I don’t know why I wasn’t. I looked down, kicked it, and saw the ball going through. I was happy as anything.”

With 8:45 left in the final quarter, Baner kicked a 40-yard field goal to tie the game at 16-16. The field goal came after a 13 play, 52-yard drive.

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Villanova took the lead in the third quarter with 5:37 left.

Jamal Abdur-Rahman, who was listed as a wide receiver, played running back many times throughout the game. He took a hand-off from Polony and rushed for a 43-yard touchdown.

The 5 play, a 77-yard drive gave the Wildcats a 16-13 lead after the Mark Hamilton kick was blocked.

The long rush put Abdur-Rahman over 100 yards in the game. He finished with 121 yards on 7 carries.

“Jamal played fantastic,” said coach Talley. “I can’t remember a freshman having a game like that. I don’t even remember Brian Westbrook (who attended the game and sat in the press box for two quarters) having a game like that when he was a freshman.”

Abdur-Rahman became the second Wildcat to surpass 100 yards in a game this season. Earlier this season, Austin Medley, who missed the game, had 102 yards against Maine on October 29th.

With 12 seconds remaining in the first half, Delaware increased their lead. Andrew Pierce, who had 116 yards on 40 carries, scored his lone touchdown in the game.

He scored a 1-yard rushing touchdown to give the Blue Hens a 13-10 lead. Baner added a 34-yard field goal to cut the Villanova lead to 10-6.

The field goal came at 8:27 left in the second after an 11 play, 40-yard drive. Abdur-Rahman gave the Wildcats the lead again less than two minutes into the second quarter.

Abdur-Rahman took a handoff and rushed 58 yards into the end zone. The 2 play, a 58-yard drive gave the Wildcats a 10-3 lead. The drive only lasted 16 seconds.

In the first quarter, both teams scored off of field goals. With 0:00 left on the clock, Villanova kicker Mark Hamilton kicked a 19-yard field goal after a 14 play, 55-yard drive to tie the game at 3-3.

Delaware took the lead at the 11:25 mark. Banner kicked a 26-yard field goal after a 9 play, 29-yard drive to give the Blue Hens a 3-0 lead.

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Anthony Caruso III
Anthony Caruso III
Anthony Caruso III is the Publisher of The Capital Sports Report. He has been in the Journalism field since August 2002. Since that time, Mr. Caruso has covered many marquee events. This includes 13 Heisman Trophy ceremonies, 2 Little World Series events, and one Army-Navy College Football game.
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