Football falls to #13 Delaware, 20-17

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    Dec. 8, 2007

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    CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) -Joe Flacco threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns, helping No. 13 Delaware edge fourth-ranked Southern Illinois 20-17 on Saturday to advance to the Football Championship Subdivision title game.

    Omar Cuff ran for 102 yards on 21 carries for the Blue Hens (11-3), snapping the Salukis' six-game winning streak.

    Delaware plays Appalachian State (12-2) next Friday in the title game of what used to be Division I-AA. The Mountaineers moved to within a victory of their third-straight national championship by ousting Richmond 55-35 on Friday night.

    Jon Striefsky added had two fourth-quarter field goals for Delaware, the first a 47-yarder that extended the Blue Hens' lead to 17-10 with 10:09 left.

    Southern Illinois' Craig Turner returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown, tying the score at 17. But Flacco picked away at the Salukis (12-2) on the next possession, completing five passes for 67 yards in setting up Striefsky's 24-yard field goal with 6:58 to play.

    Southern Illinois' ensuing drive stalled when Nick Hill was sacked on fourth-and-4 at the Delaware 36 with 3:56 left. Anthony Walters sealed Delaware's victory by intercepting Hill at the Southern Illinois 45 with 1:42 to go.

    John Randle had 129 yards rushing for the Salukis. Hill finished with 106 yards on 12-of-25 passing, but was intercepted twice. Hill also ran for 41 yards.

    Delaware, which trailed 10-7 at the half in a game thick with razzle-dazzle, took its first lead on a 9-yard TD pass from Flacco to Kervin Michaud midway through the third quarter.

    Southern Illinois then squandered opportunities on its next two possessions, first botching a snap on what would have been a 40-yard field goal attempt.

    On the next drive, holder Justin Allen threw a 17-yard TD pass to lineman Andrew Kernes on a fake field goal. But Southern Illinois was flagged for an ineligible receiver, and Kyle Dougherty missed a 39-yard field goal.

    Delaware linebacker Tim Prindle was ejected on that drive for slugging Randle out of bounds.

    The Salukis, who had never trailed in their previous two playoff games, jumped to a 10-0 first-quarter lead by harrassing Flacco with blitzes and heavy pressure while keeping the ball for most of the opening quarter.

    Randle did the heavy lifting, carrying 11 times for 64 yards in the first quarter, including a 1-yard TD run that put Southern Illinois ahead 10-0.

    Flacco eventually found his rhythm, closing the Blue Hens to within three on the second-quarter's first possession with a 9-yard TD pass to Robbie Agnone. Cuff kept the drive rolling, gaining 25 yards on four carries.

    The Blue Hens, on the first play after halftime, caught the Salukis sleeping. Flacco lateralled to wideout Aaron Love, who threw a 41-yard completion to a wide-open Cuff to the Salukis 27. But Delaware, hit with a 10-yard holding penalty before Flacco was sacked for a 6-yard loss, eventually punted.

    Kyle Dougherty put the Salukis ahead 3-0 with a 42-yard field goal with 5:46 to play in the first quarter, just two plays after a 20-yard TD pass from Hill to Alan Turner was taken off the board because the Salukis were flagged for having an ineligible receiver downfield.

    On Southern Illinois' next possession, a 21-yard completion from Hill to Turner set up Randle's 1-yard TD run.