Sept. 17, 2011
VILLANOVA, Pa. - In a game that did not feature a touchdown from either team until the middle of the third quarter Villanova (0-3) eventually lost by a score of 20-9 to Monmouth (1-1) in its home opener at Villanova Stadium on Saturday afternoon. A near-sellout crowd of 11,817 on Parents' Weekend was on hand to see the Wildcats in their first of six home games this season.
Both teams had stagnant offensive performances in the first half and it was not until a 36-yard touchdown run by redshirt freshman running back Austin Medley (Franklinville, N.J.) with 9:32 left in the third period that there was a touchdown in the game. Medley gave Villanova its only lead of the game at 7-3 with his first career touchdown before the visiting Hawks went on to score 17 of the final 19 points in the last 18 minutes of the contest.
Medley picked up 53 yards on only seven carries and junior wide receiver Dorian Wells (West Covina, Calif.) recorded six receptions for 98 yards to lead the Wildcats offense. Senior quarterback Christian Culicerto (Charlotte, N.C.) entered the game during the second quarter and wound up throwing for 183 yards on 11-of-24 passing while also running 12 times for 34 yards.
Villanova was not without chances to put more points on the board in hopes of a fourth quarter rally but, despite running 26 offensive plays in the final period, gained only 75 yards in the fourth quarter and produced only two points on a team safety when a Monmouth player ran through the back of the end zone with 3:09 left to prevent the Hawks from having to punt from deep within their own territory.
Until the closing minutes of the third quarter Monmouth had been held to only three points on a field goal with 9:16 remaining in the second period. That changed with 2:23 left in the third quarter when Tristan Roberts caught a seven-yard touchdown pass from Kyle Frazier to give the Hawks the lead for good at 10-7.
In the fourth quarter Eric Spillane kicked his second field goal of the game, a 36-yard attempt, with 11:34 to play to make the score 13-7 and the Hawks sealed the outcome when Balial Sloan El broke away for a 44-yard touchdown run with only 1:12 left to make the score 20-9 and close the scoring for the day.
This contest marked the third straight game to begin the year in which the Wildcats were held scoreless in the first half. When the teams went to the locker rooms during the intermission Villanova had only five net yards of rushing and had gained just two first downs on 26 offensive plays.
In the second half the offense picked up for the Wildcats, at least in terms of the team's ability to pick up yards. Villanova wound up finishing with 301 yards of total offense thanks to getting a lift from Culicerto once he entered the game.
On the defensive end freshman safety Joe Sarnese (Ventnor, N.J.) had a game-high 10 tackles, including eight solo stops. Freshman linebacker Dillon Lucas (Medford, N.J.) added eight tackles and a sack, while sophomore defensive end Antoine Lewis (Somers Point, N.J.) had a forced fumble and a fumble recovery to go along with six tackles.
Frazier paced Monmouth by throwing for 220 yards and a touchdown on 17-of-30 accuracy. Sloan El ran for 76 yards to lead the Hawks running game.
Villanova will next play its annual game against Penn next Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Franklin Field. The Wildcats are the home team in that contest.
NOTES: Today's meeting was the first ever between Villanova and Monmouth and marked the first time the Wildcats had faced an opponent from the Northeast Conference since 1987 ... Villanova nearly went into halftime with a lead when Culicerto threw a 49-yard pass to Wells with less than two minutes to play in the second quarter ... Wells picked up most of those yards after the catch but had the ball knocked loose by a Hawks player at the two-yard line ... The ball bounced in front of Wells but by the time he corralled it was ruled to have gone through the end zone for a touchback.