Sept. 1, 2011
PHILADELPHIA - In the third installment of the annual Mayor's Cup game Villanova (0-1) lost by a score of 42-7 to Temple (1-0) before a crowd of 32,638 in the season opener for both teams at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday night. The attendance was the largest of the three games that the Wildcats and Owls have played in the Mayor's Cup series.
A young Villanova team leaned heavily on its newcomers in the first outing of the season, as the Wildcats had 17 first-year players see time on the field. The number included 12 true freshman and five redshirt freshmen.
"I take my hat off to [Owls head coach] Steve Addazio and his team," Villanova head coach Andy Talley said. "They are a really good team and they did not make very many mistakes tonight; they played almost a perfect game. That is as good a Temple team as we have seen in these last three meetings with them."
One of the redshirt freshmen was quarterback Dustin Thomas (Ventnor, N.J.), who accounted for his team's only points of the night with a four-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Earlier in the game Temple had set a tone with two touchdowns in the last seven minutes of the second quarter that forged a 21-0 margin at halftime.
"There was never a point in the game where we really challenged them," Talley said. "We did not put enough pressure on Temple to really test their mettle and that speaks to having 17 first-year players in the game."
In his first collegiate start Thomas ran 17 times for 59 yards and a touchdown while completing 11-of-25 passes for 109 yards. He also threw three interceptions and the Wildcats committed a total of four turnovers on the night.
"Even though it might not have looked like it at times it was still fun to be out there for my first start," Thomas said. "I have to take this game and learn from my mistakes because that is the only way you are going to get better."
The Owls scored on their first drive of the game and took a 7-0 lead on a 35-yard pass from Mike Gerardi to Deon Miller with 7:23 left in the first quarter. That remained the score until just after the midpoint of the second quarter but Temple running back Brandon Pierce scored on a pair of touchdown runs late in the opening half - the latter of which came with just 46 seconds remaining - to put the contest all but out of reach.
Villanova's biggest offensive play of the game came on the drive that took place right before the first touchdown run by Pierce. On a drive that started at the Wildcats own 31-yard line junior wide receiver Dorian Wells (West Covina, Calif.) threw a 44-yard pass that Thomas caught along the sideline while just managing to stay inbounds. The promising start to the drive did not lead to any further momentum, however, and Villanova eventually fumbled the ball away at Temple's 36-yard line on third-and-21.
Senior wide receiver Mikey Reynolds (Moorestown, N.J.) had a team-high five receptions for 51 yards and sophomore Joe Price (Havertown, Pa.) had three catches for 39 yards. The Wildcats gained 122 yards on the ground and 153 through the air, with the 59 rushing yards by Thomas accounting for the team's game high mark. Senior running back Lawrence Doss (Bellflower, Calif.) ran seven times for 31 yards.
On the other side of the ball sophomore defensive back Craig James (Mays Landing, N.J.) led all players with a game-high 10 tackles, including seven solo stops. True freshman linebacker Dillon Lucas (Medford, N.J.) added nine tackles in the game.
Temple amassed 475 yards of total offense behind the production of Pierce, who ran 20 times for 147 yards and three scores. Gerardi completed 14-of-20 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns, with Miller and Rod Streater both recording touchdown receptions.
Next up for Villanova is the team's CAA Football opener, which will be on the road at Towson next Saturday (Sept. 10) at 7 p.m.