DELAWARE STATE UNIVERSITY “HORNETS” (0-0)                                                                     
DELAWARE “FIGHTIN’ BLUE HENS” (0-0)                                                
THU., AUG. 31, 2017 (7 p.m.)

Delaware State kicks off the 2017 season at Delaware in a battle between the state’s two NCAA Division I programs. The Hornets return just 37 letterwinners (including kickers) and 12 starters from last year’s squad, which posted a 0-11 overall record and 0-8 mark in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Although DSU has been picked to finish last in the 2017 preseason MEAC poll (coaches and sports information directors), a total of nine active Hornets were named to the preseason All-MEAC second or third teams. Delaware State returns six offensive starters from 2016, highlighted by running back Mike Waters (so.; Phila., Pa.), who was third in the MEAC with a school freshman record 820 yards rushing and a team-high five touchdowns last season. Waters, a 2017 preseason All-MEAC Second Team pick, ran for 224 yards in last year’s season finale at Howard, also a DSU freshman record. The Hornets also return one of the MEAC’s top all-purpose yardage leaders in running back Brycen Alleyne (jr.; Wilmington, Del.), a 2017 preseason All-MEAC Third Team selection. Alleyne was fifth in the MEAC in rushing with 584 yards and third in all-purpose yards (117.9 pg) in 2016. Delaware State third-year head coach Kenny Carter has yet to announce who will start at quarterback in the opener, between Keenan Black (so.; Concord, N.C.) and Jack McDaniels (fr.; Lorton, Va.). Black did not attempt a pass in brief action at QB in 2016, but held the No. 1 position during the Hornets’ 2017 spring camp. McDaniels joined the Hornets this year after a record-setting scholastic career. Fatu Sua Godinet (so.; Honolulu, HI) is the top returning receiver, while Isaih Williams (so.; Bronx, N.Y.) is a threat at tight end. Delaware State’s offensive line is led by sophomores Joshua Fala (Manteca, Cal.) at tackle and center Cade Pedro (Honolulu, HI), each a preseason All-MEAC Second Team selection. The Hornet defense is led by inside linebackers Malik Harris (sr.; Washington, D.C.) and Brian Cavicante (so.; Portsmouth, Va.). Harris, a 2017 preseason All-MEAC Second Team selection, had a team-high 82 tackles (48 solo) and 11 backfield stops last season. Cavicante was selected to the 2017 preseason All-MEAC Third Team after finishing second on the Hornets with 70 tackles (40 unassisted) a year ago. The defensive front has been bolstered by the addition of Towson transfer Caleb Hebron (jr.; Jersey City, N.J.) at one of the starting end positions. Ulises De Los Santos (so.; Union City, N.J.), Jacob Jones (jr.; Brooklyn, N.Y.) and Damon Atwater-Stephens (so.; Fort Washington, Md.) are other key members of the defensive front. Among the players to watch in the secondary are cornerback Keyjuan Selby (jr.; Bear, Del.), a 2017 preseason All-MEAC Third Team pick, along with safeties Brock Nichols (so.; Naples, Fla.) and Xavier Wilcher (jr.; Bethlehem, Pa.). Delaware State’s kicking game appears solid. Placekicker Wisdom Nzidee (sr.; Stone Mountain, Ga.) and punter Fidel Romo-Martinez (so.; Banning, Cal.) each was selected to the 2017 preseason All-MEAC Third Team.            

THE SERIES (Delaware leads 7-0)
This will be the eighth meeting between the state’s two Division I teams. Each game has been played at Delaware Stadium. The Hens have won the previous meetings by a combined score of 279-82. Delaware won the last contest 56-14 in the 2016 season opener for each team. Delaware rushed for 395 yards and five touchdowns, and benefitted from six Delaware State turnovers in the 2016 contest. UD’s Wes Hills rushed for a career-high 212 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries, while Thomas Jefferson ran for 70 yards on 13 attempts and Jalen Randolph added 55 rushing yards and two scores on 11 tries. Blue Hen quarterback Joe Walker completed six-of-nine passes for 66 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for 39 yards and a score. The Hornets trailed 42-0 before finally getting on the board. Daniel Epperson and Mason Rutherford connected on a six-yard touchdown pass to cap off a six-play, 75-yard drive midway through the third quarter. A 50-yard kickoff return by Brycen Alleyne following Delaware’s seventh touchdown set up the Hornets’ second scoring drive. Alleyne capped off the drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Epperson in the fourth quarter. Alleyne had 194 all-purpose yards in the game, including 141 on five kickoff returns. He also returned a kickoff 47 yards in the game. The former Concord HS (Del.) star also had four catches for 26 yards and 27 rushing yards on eight carries. This also marks the third time that the Hornets have opened a season at Delaware. UD’s 42-21 victory over DSU in 2013 was also the season opener for both teams.


Delaware State football