Ground Game Continues to Flourish as Wildcats Run Past Rhode Island, 31-10
Sept. 15, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa.--In its first conference game of the season Villanova (2-1, 1-0 CAA) saw its running game continue to excel and the Wildcats ran for 244 yards and four touchdowns in a 31-10 win over Rhode Island (0-2, 0-1 CAA) at Villanova Stadium on Saturday afternoon. This marked the third straight game to open the 2012 season that Villanova has surpassed 200 rushing yards, a feat the team had not previously accomplished for 20 years.
Another continuing trend for the Wildcats has been their defense in the second half the past two weeks. Villanova outscored the Rams by a 24-0 margin in the second half and held its opponent off the scoreboard after halftime for the second straight game. Last week the Wildcats outscored Fordham by a 21-0 count in the second half en route to a 28-13 victory.
Villanova limited Rhode Island to 203 yards of offense on 61 plays (3.3 yards per play), registered three sacks for a combined 17 yards and allowed the Rams offense into the red zone on just one occasion. In the third and fourth quarters combined Rhode Island ran 25 offensive plays and gained just 51 yards as the Wildcats easily overcame a 10-7 halftime deficit.
Redshirt freshman quarterback John Robertson (Paramus, N.J.) scored on a one-yard scamper on the first possession of the third quarter to give Villanova a 14-10 lead that it would never relinquish. Sophomore running back Austin Medley (Franklinville, N.J.) ran in for a four-yard score six minutes later and the Wildcats put the game out of reach with a field goal and another touchdown run just two minutes apart early in the fourth period.
Robertson ran for 63 yards and the one touchdown on 11 carries and also had the best passing game of his young career. He completed 14-of-27 through the air for 171 yards and connected with five different receivers. Senior wide receiver Norman White (Hammonton, N.J.) had seven catches for 88 yards.
It was the runs that continued to pace the Villanova offense however, and four different players had a run of 12 yards or longer. Sophomore running back Kevin Monangai (Roseland, N.J.) had touchdown runs of one yard and 23 yards to tally his first career game with multiple scores and he finished the game with 55 yards on 11 carries. Medley ran 12 times for 41 yards and sophomore wide receiver Poppy Livers (Seaside, Calif.) carried the ball for 27 yards and 33 yards, respectively, on his only two runs to quickly rack up 60 yards.
Monangai opened the scoring with a one-yard scamper just over a minute into the game to spot the Wildcats a 7-0 lead. Villanova began the game on defense but on the second play from scrimmage sophomore safety Joe Sarnese (Ventnor, N.J.) intercepted a Rams pass at the 28-yard line and put the Wildcats in excellent scoring position on their first possession.
Livers ran for 27 yards on the first offensive play for Villanova and Monangai scrambled in from the one-yard line on the next play. Rhode Island tied the score at 7-7 when Bob Bentsen threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Billy Morgan with 9:43 left in the opening quarter. Dylan Smith kicked a 25-yard field goal with 4:18 to play before halftime to give the Rams their only lead of the afternoon.
Junior defensive end Rakim Cox (San Diego, Calif.) had a team-high six tackles to lead a balanced Wildcats defense that had five players record five or more tackles. Cox had five solo stops among his six tackles, registered 1.5 tackles for loss including a sack and also broke up two passes in a terrific all-around effort.
Sophomore linebacker Dillon Lucas (Medford, N.J.) counted 2.0 tackles for loss among his five total stops and as a team Villanova accumulated eight tackles for losses totaling 31 yards. Junior nose guard Antoine Lewis (Somers Point, N.J.) also recovered a fumble.
Next week the Wildcats step out of conference play for the last time in the regular season when they head to Penn for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff. The game will be the fourth straight in the Philadelphia area for Villanova to open the season. In addition to two home games the past two weeks the Wildcats also played Temple at Lincoln Financial Field in the fourth annual Mayor's Cup game to begin the year.