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Blue Hens record first national title shutout

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- Delaware left no doubt about which
team was the best in Division I-AA.

All-America Andy Hall threw two touchdown passes to David Boler
and the Blue Hens beat Colgate 40-0 Friday night to win the
national championship.

"This is what you dream about, to finish on top," Hall said.
"I feel like Michael Jordan."

The Blue Hens (15-1) continued the dominance they established in
the playoffs, outscoring their previous three opponents 109-23.
They recorded the only shutout ever and biggest
margin of victory in I-AA championship game history.

Hall, a senior, left Georgia Tech seeking a place where he could
play more, and Delaware coach K.C. Keeler snatched him up to start
rebuilding the program.

Keeler, a linebacker on Delaware's 1979 Division II national
championship team, was hired two years ago and promised his alma
mater would compete for national titles.

Hall has been held out of most practices over the last month
because of an injured shoulder, but he went 12-of-20 for 183 yards
and ran 12 times for 36 yards.

Delaware led 20-0 at halftime after some early miscues by the
Raiders (15-1) and added two more touchdowns in the third quarter
to seal the victory.

Colgate, playing in its first title game, had its 21-game
winning streak snapped in the finale of a phenomenal season for the
small liberal arts college in Hamilton, N.Y.

It is only the second nonscholarship team to make it to the
championship game since I-AA was formed in 1978. The other was
Lehigh, which lost to Eastern Kentucky in 1979.

"The problem with the playoffs is you either go all the way and
win a national championship or you lose and feel lousy," Colgate
coach Dick Biddle said. "This is the best team Colgate has ever
had."

The Raiders owed much of their success to All-America running
back Jamaal Branch, who set four NCAA rushing records this season
and won the Walter Payton Award for the best offensive player in
I-AA over two other finalists that included Hall.

But Branch couldn't do much to help Colgate in this game.

He was held to 55 yards on 20 carries, becoming the first Payton
winner to reach the title game but not win.

Delaware rolled up 348 yards of total offense, while Colgate had
just 157, and was in control early.

After a bad snap, Raiders punter Jason Sutton got off a 5-yard
kick to his 34. Delaware scored five plays later on Germaine
Bennett's 1-yard run.

The Blue Hens got the ball back three plays later when Dominic Santoli sacked Chris Brown, who then fumbled. Tom Parks recovered
it for the Blue Hens at the Colgate 18.

Hall ran for 14 yards to set up Delaware's next touchdown, his
5-yard pass to Boler at the start of the second quarter.

Things got worse for Colgate after halftime.

The Raiders were pinned on their own 2 and had to punt four
plays later, giving Delaware the ball at the Colgate 24.

Antwan Jenkins had a 17-yard run to set up Hall's 9-yard TD pass
to Boler.

A 15-yard penalty against Colgate for interfering with
Delaware's attempt to catch it resulted led to Bennett's 1-yard
touchdown run that gave the Blue Hens a 34-0 lead before the third
quarter ended.

Jenkins had a 3-yard touchdown run on Delaware's second
possession of the game and added a 2-yarder at the beginning of the
fourth quarter.

The Blue Hens were playing in their first championship game
since 1982, when they lost to Eastern Kentucky. Delaware looked
right at home with a large contingent of fans wearing yellow and
blue who braved the 30-degree temperatures and intermittent snow
flurries.

Keeler was hired at his alma mater two years ago after he
coached Division III Rowan to five national championship games but
never won.

"I've sat in coach Biddle's seat before, having lost five
national championship games. To have such an amazing season and
then have it end that way is so disappointing," Keeler said.

"My message to (the team) was this is a game that is what your
career is all about. You have that ring. That's how you're
recognized."