BY ALEXZANDER PHILIPPSEN
Associate Sports Editor
Coming off the heels of their first loss of the season, the Blue Hens did not take the Morgan State Bears’ questionable record (2-4) for granted as they powered through the first half of their homecoming game.
Ultimately, however, the Blue Hens did indeed come up with the win over the Bears by a score of 38-7 after a dominant, shutout second half in front of 16,375 people at Delaware Stadium during a clear and sunny Saturday afternoon.
At first, it was thought to be a Delaware blowout following two touchdowns on their first two drives. The first touchdown was a handoff to wide receiver Jourdan Townsend that went for 17 yards. The second touchdown was when quarterback Nolan Henderson scrambled to his right with pressure at his face, but found running back Marcus Yarns wide-open along the sidelines for the 72-yard big-play score.
“It was a designed play,” Yarns said about his touchdown after the game. “But you know the scramble drill, we work on that constantly in practice. So when [Henderson] rolled out, I just put the jets on and it worked out.”
This was not the first time Yarns has been able to muster a big-play touchdown this season. He also scored an 82-yard touchdown run last September against Delaware State.
“I just feel confident when I’m on the field, with the coaching and players, they’re believing in me,” Yarns said. “So I feel as though it’s easy to make a big play when it’s open and everyone is doing their job. So I wouldn’t put that on me, I say the team does that.”
It certainly did not help Morgan State that their starting quarterback Carson Baker had to leave the game midway through the second quarter with a shoulder injury.
However, Bears running back Alfonzo Graham would finally get his team on the board with a two-yard touchdown run and make it a 14-7 ballgame at the half.
After the first half, it was a 24-point unanswered second half for the Blue Hens that sealed the convincing victory.
The win, however, came at a huge cost.
That cost was quarterback Nolan Henderson after he was forced to leave the game due to a shoulder injury sustained on a late hit by Bears defensive lineman Brandon King. Henderson would be seen with a sling over his left shoulder.
Head coach Ryan Carty was asked for any additional details following the game.
“We will find that out as we go,” Carty said. “I’m not sure what kind of time he will miss or won’t miss, I honestly don’t know that. They are gonna have to run more tests on him.”
Carty echoed similar sentiments during his Monday media availability, not confirming whether Henderson’s status leaned one way or the other.
Before his injury, Henderson completed 13 of 29 of his throws for 206 yards and threw each a touchdown and an interception. He also ran for a 7-yard touchdown keeper and led the team in rushing with 65 yards.
During the same drive as Henderson’s injury occurrence, running back Khory Spruill scored a two-yard touchdown run.
Backup quarterback Ryan O’Connor also made his presence known to the team with his first career touchdown pass to wide receiver Brett Buckman — which was also his first touchdown of his career.
Defensively, the Blue Hens’ veteran defense was once again dominant by only allowing a touchdown throughout the whole game.
Both Noah Plack and Johnny Buchanan led the team with 8 total tackles. Liam Trainer, Nic Ware and Drew Nickles each came away with an interception.
Despite the win, however, the Blue Hens left some points off the board. One instance was a fourth and five at the Bears’ 25-yard line. Instead of kicking the field goal, they went for it and failed to convert.
Another came during the final seconds of the first half with a first and goal at the Bears’ 1-yard line. Instead of kicking the easy chip shot, they went with a quarterback keeper with Anthony Paoletti and failed once again as time expired.
Carty was asked after the game about what his mindset was on going for the touchdown on fourth down, despite being in field goal range.
“When I go for it, it’s probably analytically the sound move, but it’s based on the confidence of the kicker as well,” Carty said.
Hens kicker, Andrew MacMillan, came in clutch toward the end of the game. MacMillan would go on to make his first field goal of the season — on just his second attempt — from 39 yards out.
“Right now, we were really excited to see MacMillan hit that kick in the end there,” Carty said. “I think he has a lot of that leg talent, but he’s still young and I think he needed that for a confidence boost.”
The 6-1 Blue Hens’ next matchup is a road game against the 5-3 Elon Phoenix this Saturday at 3:30 p.m.