Sept. 15, 2007
VILLANOVA, Pa.--In a game that featured a combined 328 rushing yards by the two teams, it was only fitting that the difference in the game would come on the ground. A three-yard run by senior running back Matt Dicken (Cape May, N.J.) on the first series of overtime lifted Villanova (2-1, 1-0 CAA) to a 24-17 victory over visiting Maine (1-2, 0-1 CAA) on Saturday evening in the team's home opener and the conference opener for both teams.
All five plays the Wildcats ran on their overtime scoring drive were rushing plays, including three runs by Dicken that totaled 11 yards and two by sophomore quarterback Antwon Young (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) for a combined 14 yards. Dicken wound up with 25 carries for 112 yards and registered his second career game with at least 100 yards on the ground.
After the Villanova touchdown, the team came up with a big defensive stop on the ensuing Black Bears drive to win the game. After two incomplete passes sandwiched around a two-yard run, Maine faced fourth down with eight yards to go from the 23-yard line. Freshman quarterback Adam Farkes had time to get off a clean throw and threw to Kenneth Fersner in the end zone. Fersner caught the ball but as he came down was forced out of bounds by Wildcat sophomore Justin Murrell (Bradenton, Fla.) to end the game.
Young threw for 178 yards on 16-of-22 accuracy with one interception. After halftime he was 6-of-7 for 111 yards and threw a game-tying touchdown pass on a screen pass to Dicken midway through the fourth quarter. Maine had taken a 17-10 lead just a minute earlier, but with 6:17 remaining in regulation Young found Dicken on the left sideline and watched as the senior running back went 67 yards to the end zone to tie a game that featured three ties and three lead changes.
Jhamal Fluellen was the feature of a strong ground game for the Black Bears and ran for 170 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. His 50-yard run with 7:19 left in the fourth quarter gave Maine a 17-10 lead and 10 unanswered points in the final period of regulation. Devin McNeill kicked a 26-yard field goal just under three minutes into the period to tie the game at 10-10.
However, later in the fourth quarter a chance for the Black Bears to end the game in regulation fell short as a 28-yard field goal attempt hit off the right goalpost with 17 seconds left. Villanova grounded the ball to run out time in regulation and send the game to an extra period for the first time since 2003.
Dicken caught three passes for 72 yards, nearly all of them coming on the late screen play from Young, while senior Anton Ridley (Laurel, Del.) tallied three receptions for 41 yards. Ridley's 23-yard catch for a touchdown early in the second quarter got the Wildcats on the board and tied the game at 7-7. Villanova owned a 320-252 edge in total offense in the game as Maine got all but 66 yards on the ground. Michael Brusko and Farkes combined to complete 11-of-26 passing attempts.
Fluellen opened the scoring with 4:31 left in the first quarter with a one-yard touchdown run set up after a Wildcat turnover. Young was picked off by Lionel Nixon at the 21-yard line and Nixon returned the ball 20 yards to the Villanova one. The Wildcats then tied the game on Ridley's touchdown reception and took their first lead on a 28-yard field goal by junior Joe Marcoux (Campbell Hall, N.Y.) in the third quarter.
Villanova plays at home again next Saturday with its annual showdown against Penn. Kickoff will be at 6 p.m. from Villanova Stadium.
NOTES: The Wildcats are now 8-3 all-time in overtime games and have won six of their last seven games that went to an extra period ... The last Villanova game that went to overtime was a 23-20 win against Temple on September 6, 2003 at Lincoln Financial Field ... On the second Maine drive of the game, Black Bears punter Kash Kiefer kicked a school-record 82-yard punt that was downed at the Wildcat 6-yard line ... The punt carried past a Villanova player that was back to receive and rolled to the six ... Wildcat freshman Matt Szczur (Erma, N.J.) had three kickoff returns for 106 yards, including a long return of 40 yards in the game.