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Wilmington Snooze-Terminal, September 27, 2009
Cherries Demoralize Charleston, Cruise to 35-0 Win
Defense Allows Only 46 Rushing Yards on Way to 2nd Straight Shutout
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Baltimore Sunk, September 27, 2009
Late Turnovers Hurt as Bolts Fall Short to New York, 19-14
Fumble and Interception by Roethlisberger in Last 4 Minutes Seal Fate
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Providence Kernel, September 27, 2009
Philadelphia Rallies, Bests Steam Roller, 37-31, in Overtime
Frustration Continues Despite Feely’s Missed Chip Shot at End of Regulation
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Albany Sliced Onion, September 27, 2009
Carney, Defense Excel as Racers Beat Richmond, 22-7
Kicker Converts 5 of 6 Field Goal Tries, Visitors Held to 155 Yards
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Harrisburg Pay and Rot Ooze, September 27, 2009
Hershey Bars Upended by Westbrook, Syracuse, 24-3
Flacco, Offense, Fail to Convert in 3 4th Down Situations
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Washington Postage Stamp, September 28, 2009
Capitols Clamp Down Hard on Connecticut, 21-7
Hold Visitors to 131 Yards as Revenge for Playoff Loss Last Fall
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Wilmington Snooze-Terminal, September 27, 2009

Rip Snorter

Staying Focused Key to Cherries’ Unsurpassed Road Success

To call the Cherries “road warriors” is putting it mildly. I was afraid I may have put the whammy on them by mentioning that their road winning streak had reached 16 last week at Richmond.

Whammy, shmammy!

Last night in Charleston, the Cherries’ 35‑0 beatdown of the Cannons was one of the easier, if not the easiest, wins in the streak. Almost everything went Delaware’s way — even relatively superfluous aspects:

With their 17th consecutive victory in the role of visitor, the Cherries have far outdistanced the old mark of 13 set by Washington, a streak that started with the 1976 EFL championship game and extended deep into the 1978 season. During their current streak, not once have the Cherries been held under 20 points, and their average margin of victory has been an eye-opening 16.2.

All-star Delaware fullback Tony Richardson talked after the game about the team’s ongoing success in road games. “Many of us find it a little easier to stay focused when we get on the road. On trips coach [Jon Brams] really goes out of his way to keep us away from distractions. At home you have your family and your house. I love my wife and kids, but once we get on the bus, it’s just football. I like it.”

Cherries’ Road Winning Streak Now at 17
1August 25, 200735-17Washington
2September 15, 200737-5Atlantic City
3October 6, 200723-7New York
4October 13, 200733-7Syracuse
5October 28, 200727-16Philadelphia
6November 10, 200735-7Albany

7August 17, 200836-33 (OT)Philadelphia
8August 30, 200827-24 (OT)Washington
9September 13, 200827-20Albany
10September 27, 200822-14Syracuse
11October 4, 200831-24Hershey
12October 25, 200823-17Providence
13November 8, 200827-13New York

14August 7, 200941-17New York
15September 5, 200938-21Philadelphia
16September 19, 200920-0Richmond
17September 26, 200935-0Charleston

For center Nick Mangold, hisself rapidly meriting consideration as an all-star, silencing hostile crowds is part of the lure of the road. “I’m noticing it more and more this season. The fans [in cities the Cherries visit] are really juiced. You have to quiet ’em down before the home team starts to match their energy. So when we [on the offensive line] open up a hole for L.T. [LaDainian Tomlinson] or keep Philip [Rivers]’s pocket intact long enough for him to hit Lee [Evans] or Donnie [Avery] with a long one — well that sucks the air right out of the place — makes our job a lot easier from that point on. For one it becomes easier to hear Philip [calling signals]. As center I appreciate the hell outta that.”

Last night the fans in Laidley Field were lively early, and the Cherries were only able to make it as far as their own 41 on their opening possession. The play that sucked the air out of the building came on the second Delaware possession. With the Cherries facing 4th and 8 at the Cannons 42 in a scoreless game, they elected to go for it. Rivers hit Avery and Charleston safety Chris Harris appeared to have a bead drawn on the rookie wide receiver short of the sticks. Avery was able to sidestep Harris, though, and barrel all the way to the 12 for a 30-yard gain. The Cannons defense was stunned. Before they could regain their equilibrium, Brams called a draw and Tomlinson went in for an easy score.

While the Cannons were reeling from that point, the knockout punch did not come until the second Cherries possession of the second half, which began on the Delaware 40 with the Cherries holding a 21‑0 lead. Brams set up the kill shot brilliantly. On first down Rivers tried to hit Evans running a curl route. Opposing cornerback Brandon Flowers broke up the pass on what would be the last of a series of effective, aggressive plays by him on Evans.

Flowers’ aggressiveness got the best of him on the next play. He bit on a pump fake by Rivers, and in a flash Evans was by him. I could almost see Rivers salivating as he launched a deep ball down the left sideline. Evans was able to corral it without breaking stride and cruised in for a 60-yard touchdown. Beauty. “Paging Master O'Connell!”

But how about that defense?

Before last night, the most recent EFL team to have put together back-to-back shutouts was Atlantic City in 1998. The Seagulls’ second victim in that double-zero was none other than the Cherries.

Back-to-back shutouts is a special achievement.

Two aspects of the Delaware’s play on defense were different against the Cannons, who last season embarrassed the Cherries in front of their home fans by posting 37 points on opening night:

Admittedly the Cherries caught a break in the form of the absence of excellent Charleston center Matt Birk, who was injured and missed the game. The Cannons’ offensive line totally lacked cohesion without Birk. Still, the lion’s share of the credit for Charleston’s misery on offense has to go to the Delaware defense. It was suffocating.

What could derail this Cherries team (6‑2), now riding an overall winning streak of 5 games? Oh, I know … a home stand. And one is about to start — 2 games:

Make no mistake, these will be tough games. Changes in venue could be in order, don’t you think? Too bad — the league wouldn’t allow it. The Cherries will need to apply the focus they’ve made it a habit to apply away from home to their play in front of the home fans.