Dover, Del. (Nov. 10, 2012) --- Delaware State secured its first winning season since 2007 with a 35-27 victory over Hampton in the Hornets' home finale this afternoon.
DSU won for the fifth time in six games to improve to 6-4 overall and 5-2 in the MEAC. Hampton fell to 2-7 and 2-5.
Wide receiver Travis Tarpley, playing in his final home game, had five catches for a career-high 178 yards and two touchdowns for the Hornets. Tarpley had 212 all-purpose yards in the contest to become the school's career leader with 4,515. He had a career-high 83-yard touchdown catch to give the Hornets a 28-19 lead with 12:19 left to play. It was DSU's longest pass play since 2010.
Running back Malcolm Williams had 113 of the Hornets' season high 221 rushing yards in the contest.
Delaware State racked up a season-high in total yards for the second time in three weeks, amassing 512 on the day.
Quarterback Nick Elko completed 15-of-25 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns, while fellow senior Justin Wilson had six receptions for 98 yards for the Hornets.
Defensive back Joe Boyd had a game-high 13 tackles (eight solo) and a forced fumble for DSU.
"I'm really proud of the way our seniors led the way today," said Delaware State head coach Kermit Blount, who earned his 100th victory as a collegiate head coach. "We had to battle through some rough spots, but made some key plays when it mattered."
Delaware State took advantage of the first of Hampton' four turnovers to open the scoring.
Five plays after the Hornets recovered a Pirate fumble at the DSU 38, Elko connected with Tarpley on a 48-yard touchdown pass. Mitchell Ward's extra point kick gave the Hornets a 7-0 lead with 10:48 left in the first quarter.
Two field goals by Tureen Durham (22, 29) pulled the Pirates to within 7-6 early in the second quarter.
The Hornets padded their lead late in the second quarter following a Hampton turnover on a trick play. The Pirates attempted to run the ball out of punt formation at the Delaware State 39, but DSU's Joe Boyd forced a fumble on the play. The ball was recovered by Hornet defensive back Cameren Judge who returned it 34 yards to the Hampton five.
Two plays later, Nagee Jackson rushed into the endzone from two yards for the Hornets' second touchdown with 2:08 left in the second quarter. Ward's PAT kick gave DSU a 14-6 lead.
Hampton wasted little time to respond to the Delaware State touchdown. The Pirates capped off a seven-play, 54-yard drive with a seven-yard touchdown pass from Travis Champion to Tikeem Platt with seven seconds left in the half to cut the Hornets' lead to 14-12. Hampton attempted an unsuccessful two-point run following the score.
Delaware State capped off a more than seven-minute drive with a touchdown to expand their lead in the third quarter. Jackson scored his second touchdown of the game on a one-yard run to give the Hornets a 21-12 lead with 1:24 left in the third. Elko completed six-of-eight passes for 63 yards during the drive. Jackson, a freshman, leads the Hornets with seven rushing touchdowns this season.
Hampton again answered the Hornets' touchdown drive with one of its own. Champion connected with Javaris Brown on a 24-yard touchdown pass to pull the Pirates to with 21-19 with 13:13 left in the fourth quarter.
On the ensuing Delaware State possession, Elko and Tarpley hooked up on an 83-yard touchdown pass to give the Hornets a 28-19 lead. It was DSU's longest pass play since Anthony Glaud connected with wide receiver Larrone Moore for an 85-yard touchdown against Southern University in 2010.
The Hornets padded their lead to 35-19 on a six-yard touchdown run by Dae-Hon Cheung with 4:01 left to play. The score capped off a 10-play, 76-yard drive (5:23), highlighted by a 39-yard run by Williams to the Hampton six yard line.
The Pirates scored a touchdown with 3:41 left to pull to within 35-27.
Delaware State collected four first downs on the final possession to secure the win.
The Hornets close out the 2012 season at Howard next Saturday (Nov. 17). Game time is 1:00 p.m. in Washington, D.C.
Tarpley's previous high for receiving yards was 162 vs. North Carolina Central in 2011 ... Tarpley became the fifth player in team history with 2,000 career receiving yards during the contest (2,041) ... Elko had a string of 252 straight passes without an interception snapped with a second quarter pick by Hampton's Kambrell McGee ... DSU free safety Davon Moore had 12 tackles (eight solo) and a forced fumble in the contest ... Delaware State has four 100-yard rushing games by three players this season, two by Williams.