NEWARK, DE -- A game full of twists, turns, and comebacks was won on an extra point Saturday as New Hampshire rallied back from a 28-point third quarter deficit and knocked No. 2 ranked University of Delaware from the unbeaten ranks with a 45-44 overtime victory in Atlantic 10 football action at Delaware Stadium.
Ryan Day, who passed for 426 yards and four touchdowns, completed the wild comeback when he hit Brian Mallette with a seven-yard touchdown pass in overtime and Shawn MacLean added the extra point. Delaware (8-1, 5-1 Atlantic 10) had scored on its first overtime possession when Butch Patrick scored on a four-yard run but Scott Collins' extra point attempt hit off the left upright and bounced away.
The game went into overtime when Day hit Randal Williams on a 53-yard scoring pass down the right side with 42 seconds left to play to tie the score at 38-38. The Hens had the chance to win the game in regulation but Collins' 39-yard field goal was wide to the left with four seconds left to play. Collins, a sophomore transfer from Penn State, had connected on 8 of his previous 11 field goal attempts.
"We never stopped believing, never," said Williams of the UNH comeback. "As long as there was time on the clock, we knew we had a chance."
"I think this win proves that we are a good football team," said UNH second year head coach Sean McDonnell. "Our offense moved the ball and we got some breaks."
New Hampshire (6-3, 4-3), which knocked off its second straight Top 20 opponent after downing No. 14 Massachusetts 24-16 last week, piled up 578 total yards against a Delaware defense that entered the game ranked No. 1 among all NCAA I-AA teams in scoring defense at 8.6 points per game and No. 4 in total defense at 237.7 yards per game. Delaware had allowed just 14 points in its previous five home games since the 1999 season.
"You have to give New Hampshire an awful lot of credit for the way they came back," said Delaware head coach Tubby Raymond, whose team lost to UNH for the first time since 1991. "They just never gave up and that was the difference."
After MacLean opened the scoring on a 26-yard field with 9:54 left in the first quarter, putting the Hens behind for the first time all season at home, the game belonged to Delaware. The Hens reeled off 31 straight points to go up 31-3 with one minute left in the third quarter. Quarterback Matt Nagy (15 of 31 for 317 yards and three touchdowns) hit Jamin Elliott and Craig Cummings on scoring tosses, Patrick scored on an 11-yard run, defensive end Femi Ayi recovered a blocked punt by UD safety Mike Pearson in the end zone, and Collins converted a 40-yard field goal.
Then the wheels came off for the Blue Hens and New Hampshire sophomore tailback Ime Ekong, who entered the game when star tailback Stephan Lewis left the game in the second quarter with an ankle sprain, took over. Ekong scored on a three-yard run with 1:00 left in the third quarter and then scored again just 17 seconds later when he ran into the end zone from two yards out. The second touchdown, which cut the lead to 31-17, was set up when Delaware's James O'Neal fumbled a kickoff return at his own five-yard line.
Day followed with scoring tosses of 19 yards to Ekong and 15-yard to Kamau Peterson (off a hook and ladder play from Mallette) to tie the game at 31-31 with 5:17 left.
But the Hens, who entered the game as one of only five unbeaten teams in NCAA I-AA, found a spark and went back up 38-31 when Nagy found Elliott down the left side, hitting the junior receiver in stride for a 62-yard touchdown bomb with 4:22 left in regulation. But back came the Wildcats to send the game into overtime on Day's long scoring pass to Williams.
Day, who had connected on just 5 of 7 passes last week vs. Massachusetts, set Delaware Stadium records by connecting on 37 of 65 passes with Peterson catching 12 passes for 180 yards. Delaware's Nagy set a new UD record for career touchdown passes at 50 while Elliott, who caught four passes for 101 yards, went over the 100-catch mark for his career in the first half.