A superb performance by the Villanova defense and the first career 300+ yard passing game by Sophomore quarterback, Zach Bednarczyk were key components leading to a crucial Wildcat road win at Maine by a score of 26-7.
The only points the Black Bears could muster came on a 97-yard kick-off return to start the second-half after the Cats had earned a 10-0 lead in a hard-fought, first-half. Villanova opened the scoring with a 42 yard field goal by Gerard Smith in the second quarter and followed it up with a 17-yard TD pass from Bednarczyk to Brandon Chadbourn with only 11 seconds remaining in the first half.
The Cats bounced back from the Maine kick-return touchdown to score on a Gerard Smith, 43-yard field goal to build the lead back to 13-7. The Black Bears returned the kick-off to the Maine 39 yard line and began a drive that took them to a first and goal situation at the Villanova 7-yard line and an opportunity to grab the lead in the game for the first time. The ‘Nova defense answered the bell - Maine rushed for four yards to the three, the Cats tackled the Black Bears for a seven yard loss, Maine was penalized for an illegal forward pass resulting in a 4th down and goal from the 13-yard line. Austin Calitro sniffed out a fake field goal attempt and sacked Maine for an 8-yard loss. The goal-line stand turned out to be a game-save for the Cats.
The ensuing ‘Nova drive resulted in an 8 yard TD pass from Bednarczyk to Ryan Bell (with a blocked PAT) and a 19-7 ‘Nova edge. The Cats forced a three and out on the next Maine drive and then took a commanding lead by finishing off a 9 play, 55-yard drive with a 7-yard TD pass to Ryan Bell from Bednarczyk.
Bednarczyk finished the game completing 23 of 31 attempts for 326 yards and 3 TDs. Jarrett McClenton had 6 catches for 91 yards, Taurus Phillips 5 for 85 and Ryan Bell 4 for 58 yards and 2 TDs. On defense, Jeff Steeb had 8 tackles and a half a sack while Ed Shockley, Jason Ceneus, and Bryan Osei each had 7 tackles.
Villanova advances to 7-2 overall and 5-1 in CAA action.
The updated CAA standings reveal the significance of the game as the Cats remain only a game out of first place:
Full Box Score Villanova 26 - Maine 7 (PDF)