ANNAPOLIS — The scoreboard may not have been high-scoring by any means, but throughout the day whenever the Blue Hens needed a stop, the defense delivered.
Delaware kept the Midshipmen’s triple option offense in check throughout Delaware’s 14-7 victory on Saturday. The Blue Hens defense flew around throughout the day, forcing three turnovers and allowing the Navy offense into the end zone just once. This included Navy’s final possession on a fourth down heave to the end zone from Delaware’s 9-yard line.
“I thought we kept them off balance. I thought we ran to the ball extremely hard and we made plays when they were there to be made, that's the biggest key in that,” Delaware Head Coach Ryan Carty said of his team’s performance. “It’s about making plays and getting balls out and creating havoc enough that they’re tossing balls around and I thought we did that with our plan.”
Linebacker Johnny Buchanan tied Delaware’s all-time tackle record with 23 tackles in the victory.
“It’s just fun playing with this group of guys. It came down to everyone just playing hard, doing their job,” Buchanan said. “The only stat I’m concerned with is 1-0 right now. It was fun being out there.”
Navy’s first play from scrimmage saw the Midshipmen turn the football over, on a bobbled snap by quarterback Tai Lavatai. The turnover set Delaware up in optimal field position, just outside the Navy red zone at the 21-yard line.
Two plays later, Delaware was in the end zone on a touchdown reception by tight end Bryce de Maille to give the Hens a 7-0 lead it would inevitably hold through halftime.
“We preached all week to get off to a hot start, we wanted the ball first, we wanted to strike first and it ended up working in our favor,” Quarterback Nolan Henderson said. “You always want to have a fast start and kind of put the pressure on your opponent to not wait for the first punch but be the first punch.”
The Delaware offensive line struggled to keep Henderson on his feet, with the Midshipmen defense bringing down the Delaware native a total of five times. Henderson’s athletic ability, however, was on full display throughout.
Henderson’s second touchdown pass of the day came in the third quarter, rolling to his left finding wide receiver Chandler Harvin down the left sideline for a 51-yard touchdown reception.
“I looked to him first, then I got off of it, was flushed left and he did a great job working with me and kind of lulled the corner to sleep,” Henderson said. “It was just me and him being on the same page.”
Delaware’s new-look offense under Carty totaled 202 total yards on offense, with just 13 rushing yards. Delaware’s only turnover came on a James Collins fumble in the second quarter.
“Obviously, that wasn’t the best performance on offense we wanted, but I know this, we talked about playing turnover free football. We had one and we had it in an okay territory,” Carty said. “We talked about playing the next snap and not worrying about what happened on the last drive, and I thought we did that. I thought we kept going out there and trying and grinding.”
The victory against the Midshipmen is the third for the program since 2000. Delaware’s other two wins at Navy this century came in 2003 and 2007. Both years the program reached the national championship game.
Carty believes the sky's the limit for his team, today and beyond. Buchanan noted how this game was on Delaware’s radar throughout the entire summer.
“We spent the whole summer ‘Beat Navy’, and that means something. In the weight room, when you’re training, when you’re running sprints in the summer, ‘Beat Navy, Beat Navy’. That’s all going through my head in that moment,” Buchanan said. “I know it’s the same with the ten guys out there with me. It wasn’t an option.”