#10 Villanova Wins the CAA Title | Wildcats defeat Delaware in the Battle of the Blue
Written by David Szczepanski on November 20, 2023
#10 Villanova defeats #7 Delaware, 35-7, to win the Battle of the Blue and the CAA title. The Wildcats won their ninth straight game at Delaware Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Coach Ferrante improved to 6-1 against Delaware in his Villanova coaching career. Villanova also earned the #8 seed and a bye week in the FCS playoffs. The Wildcats technically have a share of the CAA title with Richmond and UAlbany, but Villanova won the point differential tiebreaker over UAlbany by four points to earn the CAA’s only automatic bid. Villanova will play the winner of Duquesne vs. Youngstown State on December 2nd.
Villanova accumulated 450 total offensive yards and 25 first downs against Delaware. Connor Watkins struggled early with the windy conditions, but he settled in after a rough first quarter. Watkins was 16-26 with 223 yards and two touchdowns against Delaware’s defense, which averaged less than 20 points against per game.
Watkins’ main target was Jaaron Hayek against the Blue Hens. Hayek had six receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns, including a 51-yard touchdown reception to extend Villanova’s lead in the third quarter.
Villanova’s rushing attack continued their stellar season with 240 rushing yards. Jalen Jackson started the first drive of the game with a 55-yard run. He finished with nine carries for 132 yards. DeeWil Barlee led the Wildcats in carries with 12 for 58 yards and one touchdown. TD Ayo-Durojaiye had another rushing touchdown on Saturday against Delaware along with 30 total rushing yards.
The Wildcats’ defense, which led the CAA in many categories heading into Saturday’s game, limited Delaware to just seven points. Villanova finished the afternoon with three interceptions against Delaware quarterbacks. Isas Waxter, Jordan Nelson, and Danny Abraham all had one interception, but Abraham’s interception sealed Villanova’s victory when he returned the interception for a 69-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
The Blue Hens finished with just 296 total offensive yards. Delaware used three quarterbacks in total on Saturday after their starter, Ryan O’Connor, suffered an injury early in the first half. The Blue Hens backup, Zach Marker, was removed from the game for an unknown reason after just five attempted passes. Therefore, Delaware finished the game with their true freshman third string quarterback, Nick Minicucci. Despite a touchdown on his first drive of the game, Minicucci completed just 9 of his 21 passes and was intercepted twice. Delaware combined for just 129 passing yards against the Wildcats in the Battle of the Blue. The only touchdown for the Blue Hens came on a 39-yard pass from Minicucci to Braden Brose.
Delaware’s rushing attack accumulated 177 rushing yards fairly quietly due to the Blue Hens’ overall offensive struggles and inability to score in the red zone. Marcus Yarns carried the football 18 times for 98 yards against Villanova. Delaware had some chances early in the game, but some very questionable coaching decisions and poorly executed trick plays led to the Wildcats taking advantage in the second half.
The Wildcats will have some time to get rest as they have earned the bye week with their win over Delaware and tiebreaker win over Richmond and UAlbany. Villanova’s next game is scheduled for December 2nd at Villanova Stadium against the winner of Duquesne vs. Youngstown State.