Colonel Football dropped a 34-14 decision to No. 12 Delaware Valley under the lights on Friday night at Schmidt Stadium. Wilkes could not rally after trailing 19-14 for most of the fourth quarter.
In what was arguably their best all-around performance of the season, the Colonels had the nationally ranked Aggies, but could not secure a lead in the contest. Back-to-back turnovers plagued the Wilkes offense in a period of just three minutes of game time.
The Aggies were able to capitalize on both turnovers to stomp out a Colonel comeback.
A Jordan Stiles interception brought the Colonel faithful to their feet as Wilkes took control of the football with 6:16 remaining in regulation. Stiles’ interception would be spoiled by a Wade Rippeon lone interception, thrown with 5:17 to play. Delaware Valley’s Shawn Miller traveled 31 yards before crossing the goal line for the interception return touchdown.
By the time the clock ticked to 3:51, Delaware Valley had posted two scores to put the game out of reach. These two Aggie touchdowns made the final score look lopsided, when in reality, freshman Wade Rippeon’s first collegiate start was solid.
While trailing 34-14, a late Wilkes push was halted after back-to-back incomplete passes stalled the drive.
With less than eight minutes to go before the half, a pair of Devauntay Ellis rushes, along with a Dashawn Darden pass to Ryan Norton. The Aggies found themselves with first and goal on the Colonel five-yard line. A holding call against the Colonels brought Delaware Valley’s chance of scoring even higher after the penalty moved the ball to the Wilkes two-yard line.
Devauntay Ellis gained one yard before senior Jacob Brook stripped the football. Isaiah Robinson fell on the ball for Wilkes touchback. The Colonels would fumble themselves, killing the chance for any points off of the turnover.
Rippeon passed for 160 yards on 23-of-37 passing and two touchdowns. Junior Jeff Steeber was Rippeon’s most reliable receiver with six catches for 61 yards and one trip to the end zone.
The other signal caller on the field, but for Delaware Valley was a dual-threat and proved it. Darden threw for 126 yards and two scores while also keeping the ball 13 times for 92 yards and another trip across the goal line.
The running threat for Wilkes, sophomore Shane Deemer, paced the Colonels running game with 18 touches for 52 yards.
One missing target, however, was preseason All-American Garrett Armstrong. Facing numerous double and triple coverages, Armstrong was held to very little yardage with five catches for 27 yards. The Aggies even literally held Armstrong on 4th and 10 early in the second quarter, giving the Colonels new life.
On the defensive side of the football, Lukas Wood led the tackling department with 17 tackles. Robinson added 14 of his own, including 2.5 tackles-for-loss. Junior Michael Murphy also tacked on 11 tackles and a half sack.
Both teams took care of the football for the early portion of the game, but Wilkes and Delaware Valley notched one interception and one fumble lost each.
The Colonels fell to 0-3 overall and 0-2 within the MAC before traveling to Dallas for another MAC matchup with Misericordia. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 P.M.
Both teams will be seeking their first victory of the season. The Cougars have dropped their first three games by no closer than a 13 point margin.
Delaware Valley 34, Wilkes 14
DEL — Marquis Ellis 9 pass from Dashawn Darden (Pat Moran kick blocked), 5:11
DEL — Dan Allen 11 pass from Darden (Moran kick), 11:52
WIL — Aaron Coyne 11 pass from Wade Rippeon (Mike Hauck kick), 00:44
DEL — Darden 7 run (Moran kick failed), 5:27
WIL — Jeff Steeber 11 pass from Rippeon (Hauck kick), 1:22
DEL — Shawn Miller 31 interception (Devauntay Ellis pass), 5:17
DEL — Ellis 3 run (Moran kick), 3:56
RUSHING — Delaware Valley, Darden 12-92, Ellis 16-70, Khalil Roane 6-16, LaQuille Nesbitt 3-9, Quadir Strothers 1-4, Mario Nigro 1-2. Wilkes,
PASSING — Delaware Valley, Darden 16-30-1-126. Wilkes, Rippeon 23-27-3-160.
RECEIVING — Delaware Valley, Ellis 6-59, Allen 2-29, John Graham 1-12, Ryan Norton 1-10, Nesbitt 3-6, Roane 1-5, Ellis 1-3, Aaron Nelson 1-2. Wilkes, Steeber 6-61, Coyne 4-32, Garrett Armstrong 5-27, Zach Bogoly 2-24, Sincere Williams 1-8, Greg Albertson 2-7, Shane Deemer 2-4.
INTERCEPTIONS — Delaware Valley, Darden 1. Wilkes, Rippeon 1.
MISSED FGs — None.