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College Football: Connor Watkins, ‘Nova defense dump Delaware

Villanova’s defense shut down a high-powered Delaware team Saturday, keeping the “Battle of the Blue” Trophy via a 35-7 win over the Blue Hens.

In so doing, the Wildcats earned the automatic bid out of the Colonial Athletic Association to the NCAA Division I (FBS) tournament.

Ranked 10th going in, the Wildcats (9-2 overall, 7-1 CAA) scored 28 unanswered points to put the game away over previously seventh ranked Delaware (8-3, 6-2). The Wildcats have won 16 of the past 18 meetings in the rivalry, and nine straight.

The CAA regular season standings end with the Wildcats tied with Albany (Villanova’s only loss) and Richmond all at 7-1. Officially, all three teams share the conference title, but the Wildcats earned the automatic bid based on point differential in league games.

The field of 24 for the NCAAs will be revealed on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. in a selection show on ESPNU, but it’s quite possible Villanova will get a first-round bye.

“I’m really proud of this team,” head coach Mark Ferrante said. “This goal that we accomplished today started as soon as our season ended last year. These guys did a great job coming together not only in preseason, summer training (and) spring ball, but even the offseason training that started before that.

“So I’m real proud of the guys, really happy for the team and super excited. As I said all year, we have a lot of maturity, a lot of experience and the guys played that way most of the season.”

The Wildcats put up 227 rushing yards and 222 passing yards on the Blue Hens, with fifth-year senior quarterback Connor Watkins going 17 of 27 with two touchdowns, both to wide receiver Jaaron Hayek (six catches, 121 yards).

The Wildcats got off on the right foot when on the first play from scrimmage, Jalen Jackson (130 yards rushing) burst 55 yards right up the gut. Two plays later, Episcopal Academy grad and Upper Darby native DeeWil Barlee went into the end zone from five yards out.

Delaware tied the game early in the second on a 39-yard TD connection from Nick Minicucci to Braden Brose, but with Hayek getting two TD catches and TD Ayo-Durojaiye running in from 10 yards out, the Wildcats pulled away.

A Danny Abraham 69-yard interception return capped the scoring for ‘Nova in the fourth quarter.

RPI 49, Widener 21

Widener’s first ECAC bowl in 12 years ended on a down note, with five straight touchdowns by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute leading it to a win Saturday in the ECAC Scotty Whitelaw Bowl.

Isaac Hostetter got the Pride (7-4) on the board first with a 15-yard touchdown from Chase Diehl midway through the first half. But the Engineers (8-3) scored three touchdowns and a pair of field goals before the intermission to build a lead they would never relinquish.

Hostetter caught a nine-yard score from Michael Caloiaro in the third quarter, his 11th touchdown of the season. Caloairo then hit Jordan Baxter for a 27-yard score later in the third. Any momentum, though, was limited by Christian Buckley’s 80-yard kick return in between them.

Diehl was 9-for-18 for 77 yards. Caloiaro replaced him, going 15-for-31 for 194 yards, two touchdowns and two INTs.

Shawn Thompson carried 17 times for 58 yards. Hostetter led the way with seven catches for 105 yards, with Baxter (eight for 92) and Zack Vanscovich (nine for 80) adding big days.

RPI threw for 264 yards and ran for 233. Antony DeMatteo was 13-or-20 for 166 yards and two TDs and ran for a TD.

Source: Berkshire mont

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