DOYLESTOWN (PA) – Delaware Valley College quarterback Aaron Wilmer connected with wideout Isaiah Hall for a 30-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-and-15 and Jake Sobchak followed with the extra-point to give the Aggies a 10-9 overtime victory over visiting Muhlenberg College in the season opener for both teams.
It was a battle of defending conference champions and NCAA playoff qualifiers as Delaware Valley entered with three straight Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) titles while the Mules captured the Centennial Conference crown a season ago.
The Aggies won the coin toss for overtime and elected to go on defense first. By overtime rules, Muhlenberg began its possession at the Delaware Valley 25-yard line. On second-and-10, Mule quarterback Dan Deighan rolled out of the pocket and threw into the end zone where fullback MJ Rus made a leaping catch for the first touchdown of the day. However, the extra-point attempt by Gregg Mercogliano was blocked by the Aggies' Ryan McCullough to leave the score at 9-3.
Needing a touchdown to tie the game and an extra-point to win it, Delaware Valley began its overtime possession with an incomplete pass and an illegal shift penalty. Wilmer then threw two more incomplete passes, leaving the Aggies with a fourth-and-15 situation. The freshman transfer (he redshirted at Division II West Chester University) dropped back and found a wide-open Hall down the left sideline. Hall, a senior, made the catch in the end zone for a 9-9 contest. Muhlenberg called a timeout to try to rattle Sobchak, but the junior and two-time all-conference placekicker drove the extra-point through the uprights to ignite a Delaware Valley celebration.
Regulation proved to be a defensive clash as both teams returned eight starters from strong units and it showed. In addition, Delaware Valley had just two starters back from their offense last year.
The Aggies did rack up 322 yards on the afternoon, but was just 1-for-3 in the red zone. One of those trips took place in the first quarter as a 40-yard pass from Wilmer to Rodney Blango put Delaware Valley at the Mule 11-yard line. The Aggies could not muster another yard and Sobchak and the field goal unit was sent out. However, a poor snap bounced past the holder and the result was a 21-yard loss and a loss of downs.
The game remained scoreless late into the second quarter when Delaware Valley used 10 plays to drive 70 yards to the Muhlenberg six-yard line. However, Wilmer's third-down pass was intercepted by Chris Hartzell, who returned it 52 yards before being tackled by the face mask by Wilmer. The 15-yard penalty gave the Mules the ball at Aggie 33-yard line. A personal foul on the next play gave Muhlenberg 15 more yards and it eventually reached the three-yard line. Delaware Valley forced the Mules back to the eight and Mercogliano kicked a 25-yard field as time expired in the opening half for a 3-0 lead.
The Aggies tied the game early in the fourth as they used 11 plays to drive 64 yards and reach the Muhlenberg one-yard line. Facing a second-down, tailback Kyle Schuberth was stopped on two consecutive runs by Muhlenberg All-American linebacker Patrick McDonough. That brought up fourth down and Sobchak came on to boot a 17-yard field with 12:06 remaining.
Neither team drove inside the opponent's 35-yard line for the rest of regulation. That set up the overtime dramatics and the Aggie victory.
Delaware Valley's defense permitted just 129 yards, including 104 through the first four quarters. Linebacker Ken Fowlkes led the way with 10 tackles and half a sack while Chris James added six stops. Wilmer completed 18 of 33 passes for 245 yards and the game-winning touchdown. Blango and Chris Ruiz caught five passes each while Hall's touchdown catch was his lone reception of the day. Schuberth and Tyler Neal netted 39 yards apiece on the ground.
Deighan was 8-for-24 for 64 yards and one score. Tailback Terrence Dandridge carried the ball 19 times for 49 yards. McDonough led all defensive players with 14 tackles and one sack while Andy Curley added 11 stops.