Delaware Football FCS Playoffs Blue Hens

Delaware’s chances were reduced after Saturday’s 29-26 loss at Villanova, with Hens trailing 7-4, but results elsewhere, the Navy win, propelled them into the postseason


For the first time in a dozen years, Delaware Stadium will host the fall playoffs.

How’s that for a throwback Saturday?

Despite a terrible loss at Villanova that could have ended his season, Delaware (7-4) hosts St. Francis (9-2), a reward for 2 at 2 p.m. Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision Tournament the postseason has been the mission of every UD season for 50 years.

A first-round win would send the Blue Hens into a knockout round at South Dakota State (10-1), where the Hens lost an FCS semifinals in Spring 2021.

Delaware defeated St. Francis 27-10 last season in the schools’ only previous meeting.

The field for the 24-team tournament was announced on ESPNU early Sunday afternoon. Delaware was among the five Colonial Athletic Association picks, the second-highest since the field’s 24-team debut in 2013, along with automatic qualifiers William & Mary, co-champions New Hampshire, Richmond and Elon.

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Delaware was selected despite losing Saturday’s regular season finale in Villanova 29-26, where a second blocked punt in a row positioned the Wildcats for the winning touchdown with 1-11 remaining.

Delaware has lost four of its last six and two in a row, falling 21-13 to Richmond last Saturday. The Spiders kicked the go-ahead field goal with 0:04 left after Delaware missed the crucial points on a drive stopped on downs in the UR 7 with 1:23 left.

But Delaware was still considered playoff-worthy as its other losses went to playoff-tied William & Mary, Elon and Richmond. The Hens also had a very valuable season-opening win at Navy at the FBS level. The Mids (4-7) won 17-14 in 17th-place Central Florida on Saturday, likely giving Delaware’s candidacy a boost.

Losses to other bubble teams on Saturday also aided Delaware’s chances. FCS Tournament Committee Chairman Jermaine Truax, Bucknell’s athletic director, suggested on ESPNU that Montana (7-4) snagged the last available spot with CAA member Rhode Island defeating Delaware 42-21 among those who were ahead of the game.

NCAA BRACKET: Look where the chickens are

Only the top eight playoff teams are seeded. You have byes in the first round.

The other 16 teams are bracketed where possible, considering geographic proximity. The field includes 11 automatic conference champion qualifiers and 13 at-large selections.

“I think this team is good enough to play football against a lot of people in this country,” said first-year coach Ryan Carty after the Villanova game.

“I think that’s what the CAA does for you. It gives you the opportunity week in and week out to get tough and be in fights and get into playoff-like situations… I think that’s our credit.”

Delaware finished sixth with Towson and Villanova in the 13-team CAA.

The FCS title game will be held on January 8th at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

Along with CAA’s William & Mary were Eastern Kentucky (ASUN-WAC); State of Sacramento (Big Sky); Gardner-Webb (Great South); State of South Dakota (Missouri Valley); Saint Francis (Northeast); Southeast Missouri (Ohio Valley); Holy Cross (Patriot); Davidson (pioneer); Samford (south); and Southeast Louisiana (Southland).

THE BEST OF THE BEST:Delaware’s all-time best 16 teams

The NCAA introduced championship playoffs for their minor division schools beginning in 1973 when Delaware was in the brand new Division II. The Blue Hens were promoted to Division I-AA (now FCS) in 1980. Delaware made the NCAA playoffs 20 times from 1973 to 2010, their longest drought being three seasons from 1983 to 1985.

Delaware only returned in 2018 when it lost a first-round game to former CAA rival James Madison. Delaware had also lost to Villanova in the regular-season finals that season, finishing 7-4, threatening its playoff chances.

But in what certainly stirred nostalgia for the program’s past accomplishments, Delaware made it to the FCS semifinals for the 11th time in the spring 2021 season, replacing the fall 2020 schedule erased by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hens were undefeated until a 33-3 loss at South Dakota State, losing in the championship a week later to Sam Houston, where Carty was offensive coordinator under former Hens coach KC Keeler.

Delaware opened the 2021 Spring Playoffs, which featured 16 teams, at Delaware Stadium with a 19-10 win over Sacred Heart. This is the only home playoff game since Delaware defeated Georgia Southern 27-10 in the semifinals on December 18, 2010.

Delaware won the 2003 FCS championship when Carty was the backup quarterback and lost in title games to Eastern Kentucky in 1982, to Appalachian State in 2007, and to Eastern Washington in 2010. Previously, Delaware reached three Division II finals, beating Youngstown State in 1979 after falling to Central Michigan in 1974 and Eastern Illinois in 1978.

Four previous Delaware national soccer championships in what was then the College Division were won via wire polls in 1946, 1963, 1971, and 1972.

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