CHESTER (PA) – The Delaware Valley University defense earned its second consecutive shutout as the Aggies completed another perfect Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) season slate, and earned its second consecutive conference championship and NCAA Division III playoff berth, with a 33-0 rout of Widener University on the road.
DelVal finished the regular season 9-1 (8-0 MAC) while capturing its eight conference championship (seventh outright) since 2004. The Aggies came into this game ranked 13th/15th nationally, and fourth in the East Region, and will find out who they play in the first round of the playoffs when the 32-team NCAA Division III playoff bracket is announced tomorrow night (Sunday, Nov. 11) at 5:30 p.m.
The game had everything on the line, including the Keystone Cup which is handed out annually to the winner of the rivalry game. The Pride (4-5, 4-4) entered the contest in a three-way tie for fourth place in the MAC standings, and after all of today's games five teams in the conference finished with a 4-4 mark.
The defensive effort was led by freshman standout Michael Nobile who became the school's single-season sack leader as he got to the quarterback three times in this game to up his season total to 13.5 and eclipse the previous record of 11.5 (Kyle Gesswein, '08, Art Sandora, '99). Nobile finished the game with four tackles for loss while his brother, Anthony Nobile, led the team in this game with eight tackles, and added a sack and two tackles for loss of his own.
DelVal forced Widener into two turnovers as Cole Kitchen and Billy Walsh each hauled in an interception. Walsh's interception in the first quarter set the Aggies offense up for their first score of the game.
Darden called his own number on a second-and-one play and the senior scampered 33 yards to the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
A penalty on the ensuing kickoff backed the Pride up deep in their own territory, and the Aggies made them pay. After forcing a 3-and-out, Widener lined up to punt from its own end zone and Javon Speid broke through to block the kick. The ball went out of bounds for a 2-point safety, and a 9-0 lead after one quarter.
Nick Restaino booted a 34-yard field goal to put DelVal up 12-0 early in the second, and the score held into the halftime break.
With their third possession of the second half, the Aggies found pay dirt again as Darden completed a ball to Juwan Manigo who ran it in for the 12-yard score.
In the fourth quarter, punt returner Shaveiz Stewart nearly broke one with a 58-yard return to Widener's seven-yard line that setup Darden's second rushing touchdown of the day. Stewart made good later in the game as he took a Michael Raczak punt 77 yards to the house to seal the 33-0 victory and place himself in the DelVal Football record book. The touchdown return was Stewart's third of the season, and his career, both of which are program records.
Darden finished the game 6-of-10 for 107 yards and one touchdown through the air and ran 12 times for 58 yards and two scores. Mario Nigro carried the ball 17 times for 86 yards and Stewart led the receiving corps with 45 yards to go with his 170 yards of returns. He finished the game with 215 all-purpose yards. Senior All-American Stephen Adams had six punts in the game for 230 yards including a long of 52 as he pinned Widener inside its own 20-yard line three times.
The Pride completed 16-of-39 passes between two quarterbacks. Mitchell Vierling led the way with 10 completions for 117 yards and Sean McGaughey completed six passes for 55 yards. Each quarterback was picked off once. Widener could not get anything going on the ground and finished the game with -6 yards rushing. Johnny Bauer had 12 carries and netted 23 yards. Ryan Gallagher had a nice game with six receptions for 105 yards.
The Aggies defense held the Pride to just 166 yards of total offense and sacked the quarterback five times in the shutout.