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Delaware, for the third time in three games, started off slow against Maryland in the final round of pool play Saturday. The Blue Hens needed a win to advance to the Cup Quarterfinals, and conceding an early 7-point deficit wasn’t the best way to get that result.

Maryland struck first, and it was the lethal Trevor Tanifum doing the scoring, as he’d done so often on day one for the Terrapins.  

Delaware traded tries with Maryland the rest of the half, giving up another to Tanifum. The Terps scored both off of designed plays following restarts. Pat Mullarkey, the fiery-haired spark plug on Delaware’s bench, adamantly delivered instructions to his teammates after Tanifum’s second score.

“We weren’t playing very good defense. I told them they needed to slide down harder on the kickoff, because they just had one burner on the outside who was hurting us,” he explained.

Mullarkey then came into the game, and helped spark a 34-point run from Delaware to finish the game.

It was Mullarkey’s second big game off the bench. He scored two tries in the second half of Delaware’s 17-10 comeback win over Florida.   

“I usually prefer the role of starting rather than being the spark off the bench, but I’ll do whatever it takes to help my team win, and we’ve got such good depth that I don’t mind coming off the bench,” Mullarkey said.

Delaware will match up against Life in Sunday’s quarterfinal. The Running Eagles are defending USA Rugby College 7s champions, and they’ve never lost a 7s match. Knocking them off and advancing to the semifinals at PPL Park, on the banks of the Delaware River, would be pretty special for the Blue Hens. But to do it, they’ll have to start quickly.

“There’s definitely something to prove. Everyone thinks we’re this small state, but we’re a great program and we have been for years and it’s time for people to start recognizing that,” said Mullarkey.

“I think when the other team scores, that kind of wakes us up, but we need to come out against Life and those better teams that we face tomorrow and come out strong from the beginning.”

Delaware 38
Tries: Vannoy (2), Sanchez, Tapp (2), Goldring
Cons: Mattina (3), Goldring

Maryland 14
Tries: Tanifum (2)
Cons: Cima (2)