On a beautiful, Parent’s Weekend Saturday on the Main Line, Villanova’s offense found it’s groove in the first half. The Cats scored touchdowns on both first quarter possessions and both second quarter possessions to take a 26-14 lead to the half.
‘Nova won the coin toss, chose to defer and then saw Towson post seven points off a ten-play, opening drive that was capped with a 3 yard run by Shane Simpson. Villanova answered with an eight-play, 62 yard drive that Zach Bednarczyk ended with a 16-yard pass to Taurus Phillips. It was the first of three passing TDs as the Cats showed signs of revitalizing their passing game.
Javon White scored the fourth Wildcat TD of the first half on a 1-yard run.
After a scoreless third quarter, Villanova took over on downs at the Towson 29 with 7:46 remaining in a 26-14 game and capitalized as Javon White found pay-dirt from 9-yards out to top off a 5-play drive.
Towson tried to answer but Rob Rolle returned an interception 100 yards to put ‘Nova up 40-14 and essentially end the game. The Tigers would score on their ensuing possession but it was too little too late as ‘Nova ran out the clock to grab a key win to open CAA play.
The Villanova offense put up 382 net yards to 393 for Towson, including 230 through the air. Bednarczyk was an efficient 20-26 throwing the ball while Javon White gained 80 yards on 18 carries and Aaron Forbes averaged 6.3 yards per carry on his way to 38 yards. Taurus Phillips grabbed two TD among his 7 catches for 110 yards.
Rob Rolle was the star of the game for the defense not only for the interception but also a team-high, nine tackles. Austin Calitro, Jeff Steeb, Ed Shockley and Tanoh Kpassagnon were also key contributors to the Wildcat defensive effort.
Villanova Coach & Player Quotes:
Head Coach Andy Talley:
Opening Statement: Well we were obviously very pleased with the win and the way we played. We needed to put a good package together against Towson together of run and pass, and I thought our defense would do a good job against their running game. We thought that we could keep Darius Victor from running all over us, but you have to give him his yards, he’s a great back. It worked out the way I thought it would, he still had 117 gained yards, but he didn’t break any big wins against us and so with the defensive side of the ball, we didn’t give him any really big plays. They had to earn everything they got. Offensively Zach [Bednarczyk] had a brilliant game if you take a look at his stats, 20 for 26, 230 yards, 3 touchdowns, I love that. Our running game continues to hold us up, I thought we had pretty good balance between the running and the passing, which is what you’re always looking to do. We did all the things that winnings teams do, to win the game against Towson, a tough CAA team that’s been to South Florida, played a D1 team. They were exactly like us, 1-1, the ability to tip one way or the other and they need the type of game we had today. I was really pleased with the way we played.
On what they did differently than last week, regarding Zach: Well we identified guys we wanted to throw the ball to, and one of them is right here, Taurus Phillips who had over 100 yards receiving. We wanted to go to tight end a little bit, but I think the biggest thing might be we gave Zach enough time to throw. He had a lot of auto rotation on his ball today, that ball was coming out like a pro guy throws the ball. It was coming out with a lot of zip on it and our receivers did a great job of catching the ball.
On starting off 1-0 in conference play: Yeah, pleased to do that. A win in our conference is a gut buster, there’s no easy win. This game was no easy win. We were still in harm’s way, in the third quarter. So to get out quick now and have to play a couple of non-league teams before we get back into the fire of the CAA. We still have a lot of work to do. Our kicking game is not where we want it yet and as you can see, we had that big long kick off and we missed another extra point. We’re still cleaning up on things as we grow as a team and intermixing a lot of younger players with some old garb, to come out of this hopefully with a team that can make a run out of the championship.
Quarterback Zach Bednarczyk:
On Towson coach admitting he improved, how he felt about his comment: Yeah, when watching film this week, I was watching the game from last game from last year, it’s definitely frustrating to watch and was on the back of my mind. I don’t want to say it was a redemption game, but it kind of, sort of, was a redemption game for me and I wanted to get the team a win, so this was a huge game.
On how he was able to go to different guys today: It’s awesome for me. It makes my job a lot easier. All week we were preaching that Towson was just going to run through coverage and we would have our plays designed to fit their coverages and to go against them. All week we were preaching to the receivers that they need to get open and do their job, and that’s exactly what they did.
Wide Receiver Taurus Phillips:
On catching balls early on, did it get your confidence up: Definitely, it definitely got my confidence up, but they were perfect balls by Zach.
Defensive lineman Tanoh Kpassagnon:
On how he ended up stopping Towson defensively: I feel like we just went back to our roots on defense. Our motto is to stop the run and they got us the first drive. We definitely came together as a team, actually more as a defense and we all said let’s strap up and take them head on. I think we did a pretty good job of that
On how he felt the defense got stronger the second half and as the game went on: Yeah definitely. We could tell that Towson was kind of down, so we took full advantage of it.
Towson Head Coach Rob Ambrose Quotes:
Opening Statement: Hats off to Andy Talley and Villanova. Great coach, great team coached by a great coach. On the plus side, the good news for me is that I get to go to bed at night knowing I never have to coach against Andy Talley again. God bless him. I'll be the first guy asking, beating down the doors - when's he getting in the Hall of Fame? I thought Villanova played great. I thought we played good at times. I thought we played great at times. But we have yet to put together a full football game, and that's on me.
On what Villanova did to make things challenging: I'm giving Villanova all the credit in the world, because they came out, and offensively they were amazing in the first half. I don't think I've seen a lopsided statistical half as I did in the first half, and they didn't do anything that we didn't know they were going to do. Watching us play defense in the second half, I smiled a little bit. I remember why we went to practice all week. We could have used that the first 30 minutes. Until we find a way to play for 60 minutes, we are going to have a hard time winning ball games.
On the improvement of VU Quarterback Zach Bednarczyk from last year's game: It's impressive, wasn't it? When you have a game like Zach had a year ago, whether you want to admit it or not, that's on the calendar. You get a chance to play them again. He's gotten a lot better in a year. I think I said in the press conference a year ago, he'd get a lot better in a year, and he did.
Villanova is 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the CAA.
Next Saturday, the Cats travel to Easton, Pa. to face Lafayette (6:00 PM kick-off)