Sep 7, 2013
BRONX, N.Y. - Five lost fumbles were too much to overcome and No. 9 Villanova (0-2) was held to just a field goal over the final 38 minutes of the game in a 27-24 loss to Fordham (2-0) at Jack Coffey Field on Saturday evening. A go-ahead touchdown scored by the Rams with 10:44 left in the fourth quarter closed the scoring and the Wildcats committed three of their turnovers after that point.
Most of the scoring in the game came during the first half, when sophomore quarterback John Robertson (Paramus, N.J.) rushed for two touchdowns and junior safety Jerry Miles (Dublin, Ohio) returned an interception 46 yards for a score. Each of the touchdowns by Robertson tied the score (7-7 and 14-14) after Fordham had taken the lead, while Miles first career interception gave Villanova the lead.
Each team kicked a field goal during the third quarter and the Wildcats held a 24-20 lead entering the final period. A four-yard run by Rams quarterback Michael Nebrich finished a long 17-play drive which spanned both the third and fourth quarters. Nebrich ran for 102 yards on the day and his second rushing touchdown gave Fordham its first lead since early in the second quarter.
Villanova fumbled the kickoff after the Rams took the lead and eventually turned the ball over on each of its final two possessions of the game. The last of those fumbles gave Fordham the ball back with 2:11 to play and the Rams needed just one first down to close out the contest.
Robertson finished 12-of-21 through the air for 164 yards while rushing for 28 yards. His two rushing touchdowns give him 16 in his career. Junior running back Kevin Monangai (Roseland, N.J.) ran for 81 yards on nine carries, with a 57-yard run accounting for the bulk of his yardage.
Both teams committed two turnovers in the first half and it was actually the Wildcats who benefited more from the miscues. Two of the three Villanova touchdowns in the game came off of turnovers, including Robertson's five-yard run into the end zone on an eight-play drive in the first quarter that started after an interception.
Nebrich scored on a 19-yard run five minutes into the game as Fordham went 79 yards on 12 plays to start the game. The score was still 7-0 later in the period when the Rams turned the ball over on the first play of a drive. Nebrich fumbled and the ball was controlled by wide receiver Sam Ajala, who attempted a pass that sophomore safety Cameron McCurry (Orange Park, Fla.) intercepted at the Fordham 40-yard line.
The first quarter ended with the Wildcats losing a fumble as time expired and the Rams began the second period with the ball at the Villanova 34-yard line. Carlton Koonce rushed for a four-yard touchdown less than two minutes later to give Fordham a 14-7 lead, but the Wildcats next possession was their most impressive of the game.
Sophomore wide receiver Jamal Abdur-Rahman (Philadelphia, Pa.) caught the ensuing kickoff after the Koonce touchdown and broke away for a career-long 55-yard kickoff return. He took the ball all the way up to the Rams 37-yard line and the offense needed just three plays to get back into the end zone.
Robertson completed a 28-yard pass to senior wide receiver Joe Price (Havertown, Pa.), who jumped higher than the Fordham defender at the nine-yard line to haul in the deep pass. Robertson connected for eight yards with sophomore wide receiver Mike Burke (Columbia, Pa.) and then got across the goal line on a one-yard quarterback sneak.
The first half ended on a strange sequence of plays with Villanova unable to convert inside the red zone. On second-and-goal at the five-yard line with less than 30 seconds left in the half a pass by Robertson was initially picked off in the end zone and Fordham cornerback Ian Williams ran more than 100 yards back for what could have been a touchdown.
Instead the Rams were whistled for pass interference and the Wildcats had an automatic first down at the two-yard line with 22 seconds to play. Robertson was stopped for a loss of four yards and then Fordham recovered a fumble at the six-yard line with 13 seconds on the clock. Koonce ran for a loss of one yard as the Rams ran out the final seconds of the opening half.
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half Monangai ran for a career-long 57 yards to get Villanova down to the Fordham 33-yard line. It was the first career run of longer than 50 yards for Monangai, whose previous career long rush was also against the Rams (44 yards last season).
During that possession the Wildcats eventually had a first down at the 22-yard line but threw an incomplete pass on third-and-one from the 13 and senior kicker Mark Hamilton (Gaithersburg, Md.) kicked a 31-yard field goal to extend the Villanova lead to 24-17.
In a game that featured plenty of big returns Fordham returned the ensuing kickoff 69 yards and started its drive at the Wildcats 30-yard line. Nebrich rushed for 21 yards on the first play of the drive to get down to the nine-yard line but the Rams were eventually limited to a 25-yard field goal by Michael Marando.
Villanova has an upcoming bye week and will return to action on September 21 to play its home opener against Stony Brook. That contest is scheduled for a 3 p.m. kickoff during Parents' Weekend on campus.
NOTES: Through two games this season the Wildcats have as many lost fumbles (six) as they had in 12 games all of last season ... Fordham had not beaten Villanova since 1920, although tonight's game was just the third meeting in the last 11 years ... The Wildcats have a 20-5-3 edge in the all-time series ... Villanova head coach Andy Talley was previously 10-0 against the Rams ... The Wildcats are 25-4 (.862) against Patriot League teams since 1985.