Saturday, November 24, 2007

You Can't Always Get What You Want

Rarely do sporting events live up to the hype (ask Ohio State fans about last year's BCS Championship Game), but in the case of the first ever football game between the University of Delaware Blue Hens and Delaware State Hornets, with all of the talk and expectations, who would have thought that this one would have been over before it even started with, of all things, the flip of a coin.

Delaware won the coin toss and elected to defer their decision to the second half meaning that Delaware State head coach Al Lavan had to decide whether to take the ball or defend a side. He took the ball forcing his team to navigate directly into the teeth of an eighteen-mile an hour wind to start the game. It would turn out to be a mistake.

On the first play from scrimmage, Hornet quarterback Vashon Winton tried a deep play-action pass downfield to his pro-prospect receiver Shaheer McBride. McBride ran passed Blue Hen corner Fred Andrew who had stumbled while backtracking, and was wide open near the fifty-yard line. Winton's pass, however, was knocked down by the wind forcing McBride to slow down and allowing safety Charles Graves and Andrew to catch up to him. In traffic, McBride would drop the ball (although the replay may have showed otherwise) and thwart Delaware State's hope of surprising Delaware and jumping out to an early lead. The Hornets would go three and out putting their punter, Josh Brite, in the precarious position of having to kick into the wind from his own ten-yard line. Brite would shank the punt giving Delaware the ball on the Del State forty-four yard line.

Four plays later, Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco would scramble and hit his tight end and roommate Robbie Agnone for a thirty-two yard touchdown. The Hens would never look back.

By the time Delaware State had the wind at their back in the second quarter, Delaware had already scored three touchdowns and led the game 20-0. It was 30-0 by halftime.

In the second quarter Delaware neutralized the wind by keeping it on the ground with their all-world running back Omar Cuff. It was Omar, Omar, Omar. Left, right, and up the middle. It just did not matter because the highly touted Delaware State defense could barely slow him down. It seemed like every time Omar touched the ball another record would fall. He would end the day with a UD single game record 288 yards and another four touchdowns giving him thirty-three this year and sixty-eight in his incredible career.

The final score was 44-7, but it could have been much worse for Del State had Delaware not called off their attack early in the second half.

After the game, Del State head coach Al Lavan who exudes dignity and class succinctly summed up the day's experience when he said, "Being here shows us how far we have come, but also how far we have to go." Unfortunately not all of the Del State players took their cues from their coach. On the game's last play, an inconsequential kneel down by the Delaware back-ups, Del State's Ryan Spinner leveled a horrendous cheap shot on the Delaware third-string center. Way to go Ryan; you really showed him. Spinner then refused to get in line and shake hands when it was over.

Spinner's thuggish act aside, the game went off without a hitch. The huge crowd really seemed to enjoy themselves despite the lopsided outcome. Before the game, it was great to see the two sets of fans co-mingle in the parking lots trading good-natured barbs back and forth.

Yes this was the first meeting ever between the state's lone Division I schools, but the way everyone is talking it surely will not be the last. It was a great day for the State of Delaware even if it was eighty-three years in the making, and in retrospect it would have been difficult, no matter how it went, for the game to live up to the hype.

It just would have been nice if it lasted a little longer then coin toss.

Bill Komissaroff

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