Senior Dante Aiken runs for 98 yards in final collegiate contest
DOYLESTOWN, Pa. (November 18, 2017) – No. 5/7 Delaware Valley University used several big plays to earn a 35-0 win over Western New England University in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Division III Football Championship on Saturday afternoon at James Work Memorial Stadium.
The Aggies (11-0), who registered three 50+ yard touchdowns in addition to a pair of 45+ yard plays, advance to the second round of the NCAA Championship to host Husson University next Saturday. Western New England, which was making its third consecutive and fourth overall appearance in the NCAA playoffs, finishes the 2017 campaign with an 8-3 record.
• Senior running back Dante Aiken (Brooklyn, N.Y.) gained 98 yards on the ground on 21 carries (4.7 avg.) in his final collegiate contest.
• Senior quarterback Anthony Service (Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y.) compiled 252 yards of total offense, as he completed 22-of-42 pass attempts for 196 yards, while also rushing for 56 yards.
• Sophomore receiver Jared Wolfe (Seaford, N.Y.) recorded a game-high seven receptions for 79 yards.
• Defensively, senior linebacker Tim Huffam (Medway, Mass.) led the Golden Bears with a team-high ten tackles, including one sack.
• Delaware Valley sophomore wide receiver Aaron Nelson (Hampstead, Md.) caught two passes for a game-high 121 yards and one touchdown.
• Sophomore running back Khalil Roane (Philadelphia, Pa.) topped 100 yards from scrimmage with 41 yards and one touchdown on the ground to go with four receptions for 67 yards.
• Senior linebacker Nicholas DiGati (Townsend, Del.) paced the Aggies defensively with a game-high 13 tackles, including one of Delaware Valley's four sacks.
• Western New England, which picked up just one first down over its first two offensive possessions, drove into Delaware Valley territory for the first time late in the first quarter. Service completed a 16-yard pass to sophomore tight end Josh Henry (Wilbraham, Mass.) on the first play of the drive, and three plays later Aiken picked up 19 yards on the ground to move the ball across midfield, but the drive stalled at the Delaware Valley 38-yard line as Aiken was stopped a yard short on fourth down.
• The Aggies struck first when junior quarterback Dashawn Darden (Norristown, Pa.) found Nelson with a deep ball down the sideline for a 67-yard touchdown with 23 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
• Western New England again drove into Delaware Valley territory early in the second quarter, as Aiken ran for 16 yards on the first play of the possession and Service completed passes to Wolfe, senior Mark Dietrich (Cheshire, Conn.) and freshman Adam Razza (Watertown, Conn.), but the Golden Bears were forced to punt after failing to convert on third down.
• Darden connected with Nelson for another big play on the Aggies' ensuing possession, as a 54-yard pass and catch on third-and-five advanced Delaware Valley all the way to the Western New England 13-yard line. The Golden Bear defense came through with a big stop on third down, however, and sophomore kicker Colin Fasolka (Whitehall, Pa.) missed a 23-yard field goal wide left as the score remained 7-0 with 6:18 left in the half.
• Delaware Valley utilized a punt return touchdown with two minutes remaining to claim a 14-0 advantage, as sophomore Vinnie Nelson (Galloway, N.J.) escaped several tackles before racing down the sideline for a 50-yard score.
• The Golden Bears put together a nine-play, 69-yard drive late in the quarter and nearly cut their deficit in half, as a 25-yard run by Service brought Western New England all the way to the Delaware Valley five-yard line. On the very next play, however, Service was picked off by senior Sammy Mohr (Lincoln, Del.) with 19 seconds on the clock as the Aggies held a 14-0 lead at the break.
• A 48-yard pass from Darden to Roane midway through the third quarter helped set up Roane's one-yard touchdown plunge at the 4:44 mark that gave Delaware Valley a 21-0 cushion.
• Western New England's next two drives ended in a punt and a turnover on downs, respectively, before the Aggies used a pair of late interceptions to tack on 14 more points.
• Western New England outgained Delaware Valley 355-296, and the Golden Bears picked up 24 first downs while holding the Aggies to nine.
• The Western New England defense limited the Delaware Valley offense to a 20-percent (2-of-10) third down conversion rate.
• Sophomore Damond Davis (Springfield, Mass.) averaged 23.2 yards on five kickoff returns with a long of 40 yards.