Villanova/Lehigh Post-Game Notes
Sept. 2, 2017
- Villanova opened the season with a win for the first time since 2009 when it defeated Temple, 27-24. This year marked the first time the Wildcats played an FCS opponent in their season opener since 2004 when the team defeated Bucknell, 20-14.
- Mark Ferrante won his debut in his first game as Villanova head coach after spending 30 seasons as a Wildcats assistant under former head coach Andy Talley, who retired at the end of the 2016 season. Ferrante is the 30th head coach in program history and the 13th to win his inaugural game. The 38 points scored by Villanova are the most for the Wildcats in a head coach’s first game.
- Villanova is now 48-42 (.533) all-time in Top 25 battles where both the Wildcats and their opponent are nationally ranked. Dating back to 1985, Villanova is 59-70 (.457) overall against ranked teams, including a record of 27-22 since the start of the 2008 season. This year is the 16th time since 1992 that the Wildcats themselves have been nationally-ranked to begin the year, and the eighth time in that span they have been ranked in the top-10 of the national polls.
- Villanova had 475 yards of total offense in the game, a figure that it surpassed on just two occasions last season. The 38 points scored are the team’s most in a season opener since scoring 41 against Hampton in the first game of the 2003 campaign.
- Senior running back Matt Gudzak had a career-high 142 rushing yards on 12 carries and also scored two touchdowns for the first time in his career. He amassed 103 of his 142 yards on just three carries, beginning with a 56-yard run in the second quarter. Two plays after that run, he scored on a 14-yard touchdown. With less than a minute to play before halftime, Gudzak scored again on a 33-yard run.
- Matt Gudzak is the first Villanova player to have at least two rushes of 30 yards or longer in the same game since John Robertson had runs of 42 yards and 31 yards at New Hampshire on October 19, 2013.
- Junior quarterback Zach Bednarczyk had 281 yards of total offense, including 209 yards through the air on 17-of-23 passing and 72 rushing yards on nine carries. He threw two touchdown passes and also had an 18-yard touchdown run. It is the fifth time in his career he has had at least one rushing touchdown and passing touchdown in the same game.
- Zach Bednarczyk and senior wide receiver Taurus Phillips connected on a 75-yard touchdown strike early in the third quarter. It tied the longest pass of Bednarczyk’s career and was the longest career reception for Phillips, who finished the day with three catches for 97 yards.
- Senior tight end Ryan Bell scored the first points of the season just 1:40 into the game when he caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Zach Bednarczyk. Bell had five catches for 78 yards in the game, and the touchdown was the eighth of his career for the one-time walk-on to the Wildcats roster.
- Sophomore kicker Drew Kresge and redshirt freshman wide receiver Josh McGrigg each appeared in their first collegiate game and had a successful debut. Kresge made all five of his extra point attempts and also kicked a 32-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter which proved to be the difference in a close game. McGrigg had four kick returns totaling 104 yards, including a 40-yard return.
- Drew Kresge’s field goal with 14:15 to play in the game put Villanova ahead 38-28 and was effectively a game-winner when Lehigh scored a touchdown later in the quarter to narrow the gap to 38-35. The last game the Wildcats won a game on a field goal was on November 23, 2013 when Mark Hamilton made a field goal in the final second of a 35-34 win over Delaware at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa. Villanova trailed that game, 34-12, entering the fourth quarter and scored 23 unanswered points in the final 8:01 of the contest.
- Senior safety Rob Rolle had a 63-yard fumble return with less than a minute to play before halftime. It is the longest fumble return by the Wildcats in at least 18 years, dating back to the start of the 1999 season and based on immediately available data. The closest return to Rolle’s 63-yard effort was a 59-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Ross Ventrone against Temple on September 3, 2009.
- Senior linebacker Ed Shockley had a career-high 14 tackles while notching his fourth career game with at least 10 stops. Senior cornerback Malik Reaves added 11 stops and his second career game in double figures.
- Senior punter John Hinchen averaged 45.5 yards on four punts in the game, including a 51-yard effort on his first punt of the game. It was the 22nd career punt of at least 50 yards for Hinchen.