Flash overcome slow start to hammer DSU at home
By Jon Fleck
For the Mirror
LORETTO — Saint Francis University’s Nick Rinella was named to the pre-season All-Northeast Conference team as a returner, but he sure didn’t feel like an all-conference player after the first punt of the game against Delaware State.
Rinella fumbled on the play and Brian Cavicante returned it for a 14-yard touchdown to give Hornets a 7-0 lead just 2:31 into the game.
The second punt turned out much better for the Red Flash.
After initially dropping the ball near midfield, Rinella scooped it up, followed his blocking along the DSU sideline and broke free for a 47-yard touchdown that put Saint Francis up 14-7.
The Red Flash scored two more touchdowns in the opening quarter and went on to a 45-14 victory in Saturday’s home-opener at DeGol Field.
“First one, not good with the ball security. Definitely unacceptable on my part. A guy got his hand in there and ripped it out. I didn’t have it tight enough to my body,” Rinella said. “The second one, I thought just to pounce on it when I dropped it, but I saw nobody was around. I just scooped, was already along the sideline when I picked it up, and my blockers set it up beautifully.”
Saint Francis evened its record at 1-1 after suffering a tough loss at Lehigh last week when a potential game-winning field goal was blocked in the final minute.
The Saint Francis defense set up the next score on DSU’s ensuing possession. Outside linebacker Sean Orsini put a big hit on Hornet’s quarterback Jack McDaniels that resulted in a Jake Heiple interception deep in DSU territory.
Fenimore needed just one play to find Terrell Johnson open down the middle for a 26-yard touchdown and a 21-7 lead.
“I think Coach P (defensive coordinator Marco Pecora) draws up 10 new blitzes every Sunday or Monday when he goes in and watches film,” Orsini said. “By the end of the week, we have about four we go into the game with. You never know what you’re going to get with us, but we’re always bringing pressure.”
Orsini and Da’Jon Lee pressured McDaniels throughout the first and second quarters, prompting Delaware to go with the more mobile Keenan Black at quarterback after Saint Francis scored again to take a 28-7 lead.
It worked briefly as Black capped a 13-play, 75-yard drive with a 16-yard touchdown run, but the Red Flash defense adjusted and shutout Delaware from there.
“He was way more shifty than the first guy. He ran that read zone pretty well and liked to keep it instead of handing it off,” Orsini said. “We got out of the blitzes, just sat back, played good sound defense and shut ’em down from there.”
Saint Francis went up 31-14 when Eric Bofenkamp made a 34-yard field goal as time expired in the first half.
“I felt really good for Eric having the chance to go out and make that field goal after last week. I’m sure that got the monkey off his back,” SFU coach Chris Villarrial said.
SFU sealed the win with two more touchdowns in the third quarter. After Fenimore scored on 1-yard run, Chris Cropper broke loose for a 65-yard score late in the quarter.
Fenimore finished 17-of-32 passing for 201 yards with a pair of touchdowns through the air and two more on the ground.
Kam Lewis caught six passes for 59 yards, and Cyrus Holder grabbed five balls for 80 yards. Joel Denley had four receptions out of the backfield for 24 yards, including a 6-yard TD catch late in the first quarter.
“Bear’s learning. He’s learning how to adjust on the fly, which is big for us,” Villarrial said. “Defenses give us so many different looks because of our personnel and what we do, and he’s able to keep us on task and check out of bad plays. His leadership is really coming through.”
Saint Francis struggled early in the run game with just 19 yards on 10 carries, but that had a lot to do with what Delaware’s defense, Fenimore said.
“They did some things differently than we thought they’d do coming in. They loaded up the box early. You’re not going to be able to just turn around and handoff the ball with eight men in the box,” he said. “I think you saw more of what we’re able to do in the second half when we broke a couple of runs.”
Led by Cropper’s 91 yards, Saint Francis finished the game with 152 yards on the ground.
“This definitely takes some of the weight of our shoulders. All week, you’re thinking about last week’s game. It’ll feel good going into next week coming off a win,” Orsini said.
The Red Flash play at Richmond and at Albany the next two weeks before returning home to host West Virginia Wesleyan on Sept. 29.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Delaware St………….7 7 0 0 –14
Saint Francis……….28 3 14 0 –45
DS–Cavicante 14 fumble return Martinez kick), 12:29.
SF–Fenimore 1 run (Bofenkamp kick), 8:55.
SF–Rinella 47 punt return (Bofenkamp kick), 7:17.
SF–Johnson 26 pass from Fenimore (Bofenkamp kick), 6:27.
SF–Denley 6 pass from Fenimore (Bofenkamp kick), 1:02.
DS–Black 16 run Martinez kick), 2:16.
SF–Bofenkamp 34 FG, 0:00.
SF–Fenimore 1 run (Bofenkamp kick), 4:30.
SF–Cropper 65 run (Bofenkamp kick), 1:47.
TEAM STATISTICS DS SF
First downs 21 20
Rushes-yards 51-154 29-133
Passing 94 201
Comp-Att-Int 14-32-1 17-33-0
Return Yards 45 153
Punts-Avg. 8-36.6 6-42.8
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1
Penalty-Yards 11-111 7-89
Time of Possession 31:19 28:41
RUSHING–Delaware St., M. Waters 28-107, K. Black 10-27, R. Harris 6-11, B. Alleyne 3-5, J. McDaniels 4-4. Saint Francis, C. Cropper 9-91, J. Denley 8-28, J. Jordan-Toney 5-8, B. Fenimore 2-2, K. Graham 2-2, J. Brown 2-1, H. Kinard 1-1.
PASSING–Delaware St., K. Black 10-22-0-75, J. McDaniels 4-10-1-19. Saint Francis, B. Fenimore 17-32-0-201, J. Denley 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING–Delaware St., T. Gross 4-35, K. Kollie 5-33, T. Selby 2-19, I. Williams 1-6, K. Davis 1-4, R. Harris 1-(minus 3). Saint Francis, C. Holder 5-80, K. Lewis 6-59, T. Johnson 2-38, J. Denley 4-24.