Strong Defense Continues as Wildcats Beat Towson 43-7 in Home Opener
Sept. 18, 2010
VILLANOVA, Pa. - In its home opener at Villanova Stadium on Saturday afternoon, No. 1 Villanova (2-1, 1-0 CAA) dominated the game out of the gates and rolled to a 43-7 victory over Towson (1-2, 0-1 CAA) in the first conference game of the year for both teams. On a day when the Wildcats celebrated winning last season's FCS national championship, a sellout crowd of 12,111 watched Villanova extend its home winning streak to 12 consecutive games.
Senior quarterback Chris Whitney (Warminster, Pa.) threw for two touchdowns and rushed for two more as the Wildcats built a 36-0 lead by halftime and cruised the rest of the way. Whitney finished the day 9-of-12 for 115 yards and carried the ball 14 times for 44 yards. In addition, senior running back Aaron Ball (Los Angeles, Calif.) registered his second straight game rushing for over 100 yards as Villanova racked up 243 yards on the ground.
The first points of the game came on a team safety for the Wildcats with 7:46 left in the first quarter when the Tigers snapped the ball over the punter's head on fourth-and-2 from their own 28-yard line and the ball rolled through the end zone. On the ensuing Villanova possession, senior Matt Szczur (Erma, N.J.) returned the kickoff 39 yards and the Wildcats went 37 yards on five plays to take a 9-0 lead on a nine-yard scoring run by Whitney.
In the second quarter, Ball scored on a career-long 57-yard run and less than a minute later sophomore wide receiver Dorian Wells (West Covina, Calif.) caught a 44-yard touchdown pass from Szczur to make the score 22-0 with 8:43 remaining in the half. Wells also tallied a 22-yard touchdown reception on a pass from Whitney later in the second period and finished with four catches for 75 yards on the day.
Towson got on the board with 9:36 left in the third quarter when Hakeem Moore caught a 59-yard touchdown pass from Bart Blanchard on the Tigers second drive of the second half. The points for Towson snapped a scoreless defensive streak of more than 95 minutes for the Wildcats defense, which came up big in a 35-0 win over Lehigh last weekend.
Blanchard took over at quarterback in the second half for Towson and completed 12-of-16 passes for 144 yards and the one score. The majority of the offense for the Tigers came through the air, as the Wildcats allowed their visitors just 17 yards on the ground on 28 carries. Erron Banks caught a team-high five passes, while seven players had at least one reception for Towson.
En route to another strong defensive effort, Villanova forced two turnovers in an interception and a fumble. Senior linebacker Marquis Kirkland (Syracuse, N.Y.) picked off a pass in the second quarter to start the possession that led to Szczur's touchdown pass, while freshman defensive lineman Keenan Malone (Santa Monica, Calif.) recovered a fumble late in the second period which led to the final points of the first half (a 17-yard touchdown pass from Whitney to senior running back Angelo Babbaro (Canfield, Ohio).
Junior linebacker Jeremy Rodriguez (Laureldale, Pa.) had a team-high seven tackles on defense.
NOTES: Villanova is unbeaten at home since a 23-19 loss to James Madison on October 25, 2008 ... In addition to winning 12 straight games at Villanova Stadium, the Wildcats are 20-1 in their last 21 home contests ... Today's game marked the fourth straight year and fifth time in the last six seasons that Villanova has won its first conference game of the season ... The 36 points that the Wildcats scored in the first half were the team's highest total since scoring 41 in the first half of a first round playoff victory over Colgate on November 29, 2008 ... Prior to the touchdown scored by the Tigers, the Villanova defense had not allowed any points for a span of 95:24 since the end of the season opener against Temple ... During that stretch, the defense played six consecutive quarters of scoreless defense through the shutout against Lehigh and the first half of today's game ... The last time the team played six consecutive quarters without allowing points was last season on October 17 against James Madison (27-0 shutout) and October 24 against Rhode Island (no points allowed in the first half).