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NEWARK, Del. – After finding its footing inside new Delaware Stadium with 15,894 on hand, No. 22/23 Delaware used redshirt sophomore Thyrick Pitt's career night to remain unbeaten all-time against in-state foe Delaware State Thursday night by a 31-13 final.
"We're very happy to have found a way to win the game," said third-year head coach Danny Rocco. "It probably wasn't the worst thing for our team to be in a competitive game in the locker room at halftime and come out of the locker room in the second half and perform."
After a first quarter dominated by kickers, redshirt senior Pat Kehoeput the Blue Hens in front with a 21-yard scamper into the endzone to make it 10-6 for Delaware's first touchdown of the season and open a 28-0 scoring run.
Kehoe did the majority of his damage through the air, matching a career-high 18 completions on the night including a 24-yard strike to redshirt senior Owen Tyler late in the first half to extend the lead to 16-6. Kehoe showed off his duel-threat ability, throwing for 186 yards and two scores, while rushing for 30 yards, along with his touchdown run.
"The guys that stepped up tonight were behind older guys last year, but we knew that they were plenty capable of playing, even last year," said Kehoe. "They got their shot tonight and they stepped up and performed."
But it was Pitts bringing home the MVP honors, reeling in six catches for 81 yards and a 14-yard back-shoulder touchdown catch late in the third quarter to make it 25-6 for his first career touchdown.
The Delaware defensive unit was led by sophomores in Kedrick Whitehead and Justis Henley who tallied seven tackles apiece. Sophomores Johnny Buchanan and Drew Nickles had six stops, each making their first career starts.
The Hornets' first drive of the fourth quarter ended in a punt that was blocked and returned for a touchdown by redshirt senior Brian Dennis that would put an exclamation point on the night.
Redshirt junior DeJoun Lee and redshirt senior Andre Robinson had the bulk of the caries with nine touches each for 41 and 21 yards, respectively. Redshirt freshman Will Knight had the big one though, a 61-yard run in the fourth quarter, the longest of his young career.
Henley recorded three pass breakups on the night, including two on back-to-back plays when Delaware State was in Blue Hen territory that led to a missed field goal.
"A lot of guys had their first career starts. A lot of guys really had their first legitimate taste of Division I college football," Rocco said. "And a lot of those guys played really well today. I'm really excited about watching the film tomorrow."
Release provided by Delaware Athletics.