READING (PA) – Delaware Valley College scored 35 unanswered points to erase a 3-0 deficit and defeat host Albright College, 42-17, to clinch its third consecutive Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) championship and second straight trip to the NCAA Division III playoffs.
The win improved the eighth-ranked Aggies to 8-1 overall and 6-0 in the MAC. The victory assured the squad of at least a share of the conference crown and its automatic berth to the postseason. When the news came in from Chester, Pennsylvania that Widener University had posted a 41-21 win over Wilkes University, Delaware Valley knew that the outright MAC title was theirs.
It is the fifth conference championship in the last seven years for Delaware Valley (2004-05-08-09-10) and the squad will make it fourth appearance in the 32-team NCAA tournament. The 2004 and 2005 teams reached the quarterfinals while last year's edition made it to the second round.
The Aggies will look for their second straight unbeaten MAC run and the 17th conference regular-season win in a row next Saturday, November 13 when they host Widener University. The next afternoon, the team will gather in James Work Gymnasium to watch on a large screen the NCAA Division III Selection Show on ESPNews.
Saturday's game started out slowly for Delaware Valley as a turnover on the opening drive of the game gave Albright the ball at the Aggie 48-yard line. The Lions drove to the seven for a first-and-goal, but they had to settle for a 26-yard field goal by John Whelan for an early 3-0 lead with 10:53 left in the opening quarter.
Chris Ruiz took the ensuing kickoff back 51 yards to the Albright 39-yard line. A high snap on a wildcat formation led to a third-and-30 and eventually an interception by the Lions' Keith Bruno.
Delaware Valley held and, following a punt, took over at its own 21. The Aggies moved the ball all the way down to the Albright 22 where they faced a third-and-six. An eight-yard keeper by Hatty moved the chains and kept the possession alive. It was the third, third-down conversion on the drive. On the next play – the 13th of the drive – Hatty hit a wide-open Vincent Lochetto for a 14-yard touchdown. Jake Sobchak's boot made it a 7-3 Aggie lead five seconds into the second quarter.
The Delaware Valley defense forced another three-and-out and Mike Jaskowski partially-blocked a punt that was downed at the Albright 40-yard line. A big run by Tyler Neal put the ball at the 22. The Aggie then faced a fourth-and-one when Cook got the call and picked up the yard. They then had a third-and-four from the six when Hatty scrambled just a yard shy of the end zone. A penalty moved the ball back to the six, but Cook barreled over a defender and into the end zone. Sobchak added the point-after for a 14-3 lead with 8:42 remaining in the half.
Yet another three-and-one and a short punt gave the Aggies the ball at their own 45-yard line. They marched all the way on just seven plays with the final 16 coming on a Hatty pass to tight end Ed Ferrell. Sobchak made it a 21-3 ballgame with 3:10 left on the clock.
Delaware Valley got the ball at its own 41-yard line with 1:49 remaining and a pair of timeouts. Three plays later, Hatty scrambled out of trouble and found Ruiz behind the defense for a 46-yard touchdown and a 28-3 advantage with 69 ticks to go in the half. It ended a great half for the Aggies as the offense netted 265 total yards while the defense allowed just 15 on 22 plays.
The scoring continued midway through the third quarter for the Aggies as Hall's 19-yard burst into the end zone out of the wildcat formation capped an eight-play, 85-yard drive. Sobchak's fifth extra-point of the game upped the lead to 35-3.
Albright ended the run of 35 straight Delaware Valley points as it went on a nine-play, 74-yard scoring drive that culminated with a T.J. Luddy 19-yard touchdown pass to Sean Caldwell. Whelan, the placekicker, then threw a two-point conversion pass to Ivan Cerkez for a 35-11 score with 2:12 left in the third quarter.
The teams then traded touchdowns in a 13-second span in the fourth. Delaware Valley had a 10-play, 81-yard drive capped by Tyler Neal's diving leap over the pile from a yard out with 8:11 to go in the quarter. Shortly after, Devron Clark returned the ensuing kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown and a 42-17 score. That was the end of the scoring as the clock ticked to a final and an Aggie celebration.
Delaware Valley finished the contest with 489 yards of total offense with 212 on the ground and 272 in the air. Hatty was 18-for-26 for 272 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Eight different players caught between one and four passes. Cook netted 84 yards and a score on 18 carries and went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season – a school-record third time for the senior. Neal finished with 62 yards on 13 carries while Hall had 50 yards and a score on seven rushes.
Defensively, the Aggies, who are third in all of Division III in total yardage (210.25 avg), permitted just 193 yards (71 rush, 122 pass). All-American linebacker Kyle Gesswein led the way with 11 tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble while fellow linebacker Chris James had 14 stops and half a sack.
Luddy and Adam Galczynski combined to go 14-for-28 for 122 yards and one score. Josan Holmes rushed 15 times for 52 yards. Joe Arneth and Mark Bergery led the defensive effort with 12 and 11 tackles respectively.