Sept. 11, 2011
TOWSON, Md. - Turnovers were a key story for the second straight game and No. 20 Villanova (0-2, 0-1 CAA) was defeated, 31-10, in its conference opener at Towson (2-0, 1-0 CAA) at Johnny Unitas Stadium on Saturday night. Three turnovers by the Wildcats led to 17 of the Tigers 31 points and Villanova fell behind 21-0 before getting on the board for the first time.
On the game's opening drive the Wildcats had marched 85 yards down the field on 10 plays to reach the Towson four-yard line. On second-and-goal from the six, however, a sack by the Tigers defense led to a fumble and Towson recovered at its own 19-yard line. The turnover led to a nine-play, 81-yard drive by the Tigers that put them up 7-0 with 5:44 remaining in the opening period.
Villanova was held off the scoreboard until the middle of the third quarter despite being in excellent scoring position on two of its first three drives. Late in the first period the Wildcats pinned Towson at its own four-yard line on a 51-yard punt by junior Mark Hamilton (Gaithersburg, Md.) and forced the Tigers into going three-and-out.
Junior linebacker Patrick Haggerty (Shillington, Pa.) then blocked a Towson punt and Villanova took over from the Tigers 18-yard line, but the Wildcats gained only five yards on three plays before missing a 28-yard field goal on the first play of the second quarter.
Towson finished the opening half with a 10-play drive that led to a touchdown with seven seconds remaining before intermission and went into the locker rooms with a 14-0 lead. In the third quarter, Villanova fumbled after an 18-yard reception by junior wide receiver Dorian Wells (West Covina, Calif.) and the Tigers drove 73 yards on their ensuing possession to stretch the margin to 21-0.
The only touchdown of the game for the Wildcats came with 6:30 to play in the third quarter when junior wide receiver Kenny Miles (Buena, N.J.) caught a five-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Christian Culicerto (Charlotte, N.C.) to make the score 21-7.
Culicerto completed 10-of-19 passes for 95 yards and his second career touchdown pass. He backed up redshirt freshman starter Dustin Thomas (Ventnor, N.J.) after Thomas was 10-of-13 for 84 yards through the air.
The final score wasn't indicative of the amount of total offense each team generated, as Villanova amassed 360 yards of offense compared to Towson's 416 yards. It was a good sign for the Wildcats to see 181 yards of offense on the ground, as senior running back Lawrence Doss (Bellflower, Calif.) ran for 71 yards on nine carries and redshirt freshman running back Austin Medley (Franklinville, N.J.) gained 57 yards on just three carries. Medley had two runs of 25 yards or more.
With 10:35 left in the game Hamilton kicked a 31-yard field goal to make the score 24-10 but the ensuing kickoff by junior Nick Yako (Cleveland, Ohio) was returned 85 yards and the Tigers needed just three plays to score the final points of the game on a three-yard scoring run.
Sophomore wide receiver Joe Price (Havertown, Pa.) registered five catches for 46 yards to lead the Villanova receivers. Eight different players caught at least one pass on the evening for the Wildcats, with Doss, Wells and senior wide receiver Mikey Reynolds (Moorestown, N.J.) each tallying three receptions.
Towson quarterback Grant Enders was an efficient 19-of-26 for 193 yards and a touchdown while also leading the team with 62 yards on the ground. Ten different players carried the ball for the Tigers, who finished with 223 rushing yards. Terrance West had 11 rushes for 40 yards and two scores, while Dominique Booker recorded both a rushing and a receiving touchdown.
Defensively for Villanova a trio that included junior defensive backs Eric Loper (Sicklerville, N.J.) and Ronnie Akins (Lansdale, Pa.), as well as freshman linebacker Dillon Lucas (Medford, N.J.) each made 10 tackles. Akins had four solo stops and six assisted tackles while also making an interception in the second quarter as the Wildcats defense netted their first takeaway of the season.
Villanova has played its first two games of the season on the road and will now get ready for its Villanova Stadium home opener against Monmouth next Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. These teams have not met previously.
NOTES: The Wildcats begin a season 0-2 for only the second time in head coach Andy Talley's 27 years on the sideline ... The previous occasion was in 2006, when the team rallied for a 6-5 final record ... Villanova also falls to 17-7 (.708) in conference openers under Talley and is now 5-3 all-time against Towson, including 2-2 at Johnny Unitas Stadium.