Sept. 3, 2009
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Redshirt freshman Nick Yako kicked a 32-yard field goal as time expired and Villanova (1-0) completed a late comeback with a 27-24 victory over Temple (0-1) in the inaugural Mayor's Cup game played on Thursday night at Lincoln Financial Field. The Wildcats trailed by 10 points in the middle of the fourth quarter before coming back to tally their third-ever win against a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponent.
A six-yard pass from junior quarterback Chris Whitney with 1:24 to play tied the game at 24-24. On the fourth play of the ensuing drive by the Owls, junior strong safety John Dempsey picked off a pass at the 50-yard line and returned possession to Villanova. The interception was one of five turnovers gained by the Wildcats in the game.
Villanova started its final drive with 49 seconds left and began to set up for a field goal once the ball was in the red zone. Earlier in the quarter, the Wildcat comeback started when Yako kicked a 27-yard field goal with 9:58 to play that pulled Villanova to within 24-17. The Wildcats first-year kicker had a flawless collegiate debut with the two field goals and three extra points.
After the first field goal by Yako set Villanova up for an eventual game-tying possession, the Wildcats recovered a fumble on the seventh play of the next Temple drive. Dempsey forced a fumble on a first-and-10 play from the Villanova 30-yard line and junior linebacker Marquis Kirkland recovered the loose ball. The Wildcats took over at their own 35-yard line and the pass from Whitney to Harvey capped a 12-play drive that took 4:29 off the clock and ended with 1:24 remaining.
Whitney passed for a career-high 278 yards on 24-of-35 passing. After going 7-of-14 in the first half, he recovered to go 17-of-21 in the second half along the way to notching his third career game with at least 200 yards passing. Harvey caught nine of the completions for a career-high 142 yards and the game's biggest touchdown.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Owls got on the scoreboard first on a 25-yard field goal with 4:39 left in the first half. A 75-yard touchdown pass from Vaughn Charlton to James Nixon with just 1:01 remaining before the intermission sent Temple into the locker rooms with a 10-0 halftime lead.
In the second half, senior free safety Ross Ventrone returned a fumble 59 yards for a touchdown to get the Wildcats on the board just 52 seconds into the third quarter. It was the longest fumble return for a touchdown by a Villanova player in at least the last 12 years and was the second turnover gained by Ventrone in the game. He also registered his sixth career interception earlier in the contest.
Senior running back Tony Canci recorded his first career touchdown on a five-yard pass from Whitney with 22 seconds left in the third quarter. At that point the score was 17-14 in favor of Temple, but the Owls stretched their lead nine seconds in the final period on a 44-yard pass from Charlton to Michael Campbell.
Villanova began the season as one of eight teams from the powerhouse Colonial Athletic Association ranked in the top 25 of the preseason Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Coaches Poll. Tonight's win by the Wildcats marked the fourth straight season that a CAA team has defeated an FBS opponent. The CAA has had a representative in the FCS championship game in five of the last six years.
Next up for Villanova is its home opener against Lehigh on Saturday, September 12. The game kicks off at 7 p.m. at Villanova Stadium.
NOTES: Villanova's last win over an FBS opponent also was against Temple, a 23-20 overtime victory in the first game of the 2003 season ... That game was the first contest ever played at Lincoln Financial Field and was the last time the two teams met prior to tonight ... Villanova leads the all-time series with the Owls by a 16-12-2 margin.