Photos/Videos: Geanine Jamison
By: Connor Keech
VILLANOVA, PA – On Saturday, November 19, Villanova University and Delaware University faced off in their last regular season game of 2022. The Villanova Wildcats were able to secure the win against the Delaware Blue Hens, beating them 29-26 for the “Battle of the Blue” trophy. Although Villanova did not make the FCS playoffs, winning the Battle of the Blue was a positive end to their 2022 season.
Villanova defeated Delaware 29-26 to win the “Battle of the Blue” trophy - PSD Photo by Geanine Jamison
“I’m super proud of these guys, proud of our team, we showed a lot of resilience in that game and found a way to get it done at the end,” said Villanova head coach Mark Ferrante. “The attitude and effort from this team has never wavered.”
It was a hard-fought game between the two programs, the Wildcats were able to come out strong with junior quarterback Connor Watkins scoring the first touchdown of the game with ten minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The Blue Hens came back strong shortly after with Thyrick Pitts, a gradate wide receiver, scoring their first touchdown. It was clear that for this match up, both teams were locked in, as this was an important rivalry game, and these players were going after it. There were big plays made by both teams on both ends of the field, the Blue Hens missed an extra point attempt, while Villanova was struggling early with their run game. To end the first half the Blue Hens, took the lead with a field goal putting them up 16-14.
“The running game started off slow in the first half, but towards the second half we kind of leaned on it and made sure we finished the game the right way,” said Villanova senior running back DeeWil Barlee.
It was clear both teams were going to battle this win out to the last second of the game, each program had success moving down the field and they were both able to capitalize on many big plays leaving the fans on the edge of their seats all game long. Blue Hen quarterback Nolan Henderson was making major plays throughout the game, he threw for 347 yards and three touchdowns compared to the Wildcat quarterback Connor Watkins who only threw for 122 yards and no touchdowns.
“Two blocked punts gave us great field position, and it definitely put us in a position to win that game,” said Ferrante.
Both quarterbacks put on a show, the Wildcats were able to put up major numbers with their run game, capitalizing on almost every redzone opportunity. This game came down to the last two minutes of the fourth quarter, with Villanova down by six and desperate for a major play while Delaware had possession. With the bat of an eye, you missed it, Villanova blocked their second punt, and the Wildcats were in position to score and win the game. The Wildcats were able to capitalize on the blocked punt and secure the win and the “Battle of the Blue” trophy.
“It’s always a little different come Delaware week, for whatever it is guys seem a little more locked in and a little more focus throughout the week,” said Watkins.
With the win Villanova ended with a 6-5 record. Despite the loss, Delaware advanced to the FCS playoffs where they defeated Saint Francis 56-17 on Nov. 26 but then went on to lose 42-6 against South Dakota State on Dec. 3.