Skip to content
Our Archives
Link copied to clipboard

Delaware reaches title game

Joe Flacco threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns and Jon Striefsky kicked two fourth-quarter field goals to ignite the Blue Hens' offense.

Jeremy Kametz and Siddiq Haynes (right) celebrate Delaware's win over Southern Illinois in the Football Championship Subdivision semifinal.
Jeremy Kametz and Siddiq Haynes (right) celebrate Delaware's win over Southern Illinois in the Football Championship Subdivision semifinal.Read morePAMELA KAY SCHMALENBERGER / Associated Press

CARBONDALE, Ill. - Joe Flacco grins about having just one final examination left this semester. But the Delaware quarterback could not be happier about the big test he passed yesterday.

The 6-foot-6, 230-pound senior threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns, helping the No. 13 Blue Hens edge fourth-ranked Southern Illinois, 20-17, to advance to the Football Championship Subdivision title game in Chattanooga, Tenn.

"All of us are going to enjoy it," Flacco said after Delaware (11-3) advanced to a title meeting on Friday with Appalachian State (12-2), which posted a stunning 34-32 upset at superpower Michigan early in the season.

The Mountaineers advanced Friday night by ousting Richmond, 55-35, and will be seeking their third-straight national championship in what used to be Division I-AA.

"Now it's us versus them," Flacco said. "I think we're a pretty good team, too."

Omar Cuff did his part, running for 102 yards on 21 carries in helping Delaware snap the Salukis' six-game winning streak.

Delaware coach K.C. Keeler called it a sweet capper to what was a "brutal" week, starting with the bad weather that delayed the Blue Hens' return home after their second-round victory a week ago at top-ranked Northern Iowa.

Delaware's short practice week was followed by a long flight back to the Midwest for the matchup against the Salukis in what looked like a potential high-scoring affair - the Salukis came in averaging 39.5 points, the Blue Hens 38.6.

"All I know is we just beat the No. 1 team and the No. 4 team on the road. I should feel pretty good about my team," Keeler said. "You could look at the stats and say this is going to be a shoot-out. It never works out that way."

Jon Striefsky kicked two fourth-quarter field goals for Delaware, the first a 47-yarder that extended the Blue Hens' lead to 17-10 with 10 minutes, 9 seconds left.

Southern Illinois' Alan Turner returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown, tying the score at 17. But Flacco picked away at the Salukis (12-2) on the next possession, completing five passes for 67 yards in setting up Striefsky's 24-yard field goal with 6:58 to play.

Southern Illinois' ensuing drive stalled when Nick Hill was sacked on fourth and 4 at the Delaware 36 with 3:56 left. Anthony Walters sealed Delaware's victory by intercepting Hill at the Southern Illinois 45 with 1:42 left.

"We just made some mistakes at crucial times, and we didn't make some plays we needed to make - that we've made all year," Salukis coach Jerry Kill said.

John Randle rushed for 129 yards for the Salukis. Hill finished with 106 yards on 12-of-25 passing but was intercepted twice. He also ran for 41 yards.

"This one hurts. It really does," Hill said.

Delaware, which trailed by 10-7 at the half in a game thick with razzle-dazzle, took its first lead on a 9-yard pass from Flacco to Kervin Michaud midway through the third quarter.

Valdosta State 28, California (Pa.) 24 -

Maurice Leggett's end-zone interception with less than a minute left preserved the victory for the Blazers (12-1) over the previously unbeaten Vulcans (13-1) in an NCAA Division II semifinal in California, Pa.

Valdosta State will face Northwest Missouri State, a 34-16 winner last night over Grand Valley State, for the national title Dec. 15 at Florence, Ala.

California quarterback Joe Ruggiero threw for three touchdowns: a 13-yard pass to Nate Forse, a 2-yard toss to Cory Garver to make the score 14-7 at the half, and a 3-yard throw to Garver early in the third quarter.