OWINGS MILLS, Md. – Stevenson University, ranked No. 14 in the AFCA Division III poll and No. 15 in the D3football.com Top 25, took control of the Middle Atlantic Conference football race with a 19-0 shutout of No. 25 (D3football.com) Delaware Valley University in front of a sold-out Homecoming crowd of 3,500 Saturday at Mustang Stadium.
With the win, Stevenson (7-0, 6-0 MAC) is off to its best-ever start, surpassing its 6-0 record it started with last season. The Mustangs have won nine straight dating back to last season, and posted its second shutout of the season and fourth in program history.
It also marks the first time that Delaware Valley (5-2, 4-2 MAC) has been shut out since a 2002 54-0 opening day loss to Lycoming, a span of 165 games. The Aggies had entered the game averaging 39.3 points per game, second in the league behind Stevenson. It is also the first win for Stevenson over Delaware Valley in six tries.
Stevenson also sits alone atop the MAC with a 6-0 mark, with Albright and Widener sitting a game behind. The Mustangs can secure the conference championship and accompanying NCAA berth with two wins in its final three games.
On a windy afternoon in which both teams struggled to move the ball, the Mustang defense set up Stevenson's first two touchdowns. Stevenson's first drive of the game ended at the DelVal 2 when it failed to convert on fourth-and-goal. The Aggies reached their own 13 before sophomore Brendan Flaherty forced a fumble picked up by senior Austin Meyers at the 15, giving Stevenson a turnover in its 40th straight game. It took just one play for junior quarterback Dan Williams to find junior Preston Addo on a completion to give Stevenson a 6-0 lead after the PAT try failed.
Delaware Valley faced 2nd-and-17 on its own 18 in the middle of the second quarter when Aggie quarterback Dashawn Darden threw downfield, but the pass was intercepted by senior Jimmy Lauer, who ran it back 38 yards for the touchdown with 6:23 left in the first half. The Mustangs did not complete the two-point conversion to make it 12-0, where it remained at halftime. The interception gave Stevenson an interception in its 22nd straight game dating back to 2014.
After a scoreless third quarter, Stevenson virtually put the game out of reach at the start of the fourth when a 10-play, 40-yard drive that chewed up 6:47 was capped by a six-yard pass from Williams to junior Dequan Ellison to make it 19-0. Delaware Valley moved the ball on its ensuing drive but it stalled at the Mustang 35 with 7:11 to go.
Stevenson limited Delaware Valley to 114 yards of total offense while it finished with 192 yards, including 112 through the air as Williams finished 13-22 passing. The Mustangs held the ball for over 34 minutes, its best effort of the season, and won the field position battle, as DelVal's average drive start came on its own 22, while Stevenson's was on its own 48.
Stevenson's defense has allowed just 9.8 points over the last five games and allowed under 300 total yards in four of those five contests.
Defensively, the Mustangs were led by junior Mike Datu, who finished with nine tackles (seven solo), including one for a loss, and a forced fumble. Sophomore Izaiha Pitts totaled eight tackles, including two for a loss. One came as the Aggies tried to convert a fourth-and-1 at midfield in the first quarter. Sophomore Ashton Leschke also made eight stops.
Stevenson returns to action next Saturday when it travels to King's (Pa.) for a 1:00 Middle Atlantic Conference contest.