CHESTER, November 19, 2011 – It is called the Battle of the Blue. This year was part five of the Battle of the Blue series between the two rivals located just 45 minutes from each other. The game was unique in that the game was played at PPL Park, home of the MLS Philadelphia Union. It would be the first football game to be played in the soccer venue. Villanova and Delaware played the game as they always had, fierce and competitive. In the recent past the game meant FCS seeding. This year it meant pride. In the end the #15 Delaware Blue Hens got a field goal and a defensive touchdown late in the fourth quarter to claim a 26 – 16 win over the Villanova Wildcats.
Villanova would score on big plays. Delaware was more efficient scoring on five of six Red Zone Chances. Field Goal Kicker Shane Baner was successful on 4 field goal attempts, and the Hens added a late defensive touchdown as Free Safety Ricky Tunstall returned an interception with 1:28 to play that decided the issue.
In the second quarter with the score tied at 3 Villanova got the first of their big plays as Freshman Running Back Jamal Abdur-Rahman swept around the right side taking the ball 58 yards for the first touchdown of the game. Delaware answered with the second Baner field goal. With 7:13 to play until halftime Tunstall intercepted a pass from Villanova Freshman Quarterback Chris Polony in the endzone. It would be the first of 3 Villanova turnovers inside the 20 yard line. The Blue Hens took the ball at the 20 that began a 16 play, 80 yard drive resulting in their only offensive touchdown with 12 seconds to halftime. Running Back Andrew Pierce scored on a 1 yard run. He carried the ball 13 times in the drive, 9 times in succession at one point. Delaware took a 13 – 10 lead into halftime.
Abdur-Rahman struck again for Villanova in the third quarter with a 43 yard touchdown run. However, the extra point was blocked. The Wildcat lead was 16 – 13. Early in the fourth quarter Baner made his third field goal to tie the score at 16. After a Villanova punt Delaware drive to the Wildcat 12 yard line. The Villanova defense stiffened forcing a field goal attempt. Baner was good from 29 yards to give Delaware a 19 – 16 lead with 2:11 to play.
Villanova received the ensuing kickoff taking over at their 26 yard line for what the Wildcats hoped would be the game-winning drive. Four plays later Tunstall intercepted Polony at the Delaware 46 yard line taking the ball 54 yards for the game-clinching score with 1:28 on the clock.
Abdur-Rahman ran the ball 7 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns. He was the second Villanova Running Back to run for more than 100 yards in a game. The other back to do so was Austin Medley. Polony was 14 – 24 for 139 yards and was picked-off twice. He also ran for 21 yards. Junior Linebacker Devon Bridges recorded a game-high 11 tackles, 1 sack, and forced a fumble. Sophomore Defensive Back Craig James had 9 tackles. Defensive Backs Freshman Joe Sarnese, Junior Ronnie Akins, and Junior Eric Loper each were credited with 8 tackles.
Pierce ran for 109 yards and a touchdown on 40 carries for the Blue Hens. Quarterback Tim Donnelly went 14 – 22 for 153 yards. Wide Receiver Nihja White caught 7 passes for 82 yards. Linebacker Paul Worrilow had 10 tackles.
Villanova finishes the season with a 2 – 9 record, 1 – 7 in the CAA. Delaware finishes 7 – 4, 5 – 3 in conference. The game drew 14, 107 fans.
Written By: Glenn Papazian