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Wildcats Tie School Record with Seven Interceptions in 34-14 Win over Penn

Sept. 22, 2007

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VILLANOVA, Pa. - In a game fueled by its school-record tying seven interceptions on defense, Villanova (3-1) defeated visiting Penn (0-2) 34-14 on Saturday evening at Villanova Stadium. The Wildcats claimed their seventh straight victory over their city rivals as the Quakers made their first trip to the Main Line since 2002.

The Wildcats played scoreless defense in the second half and had five interceptions after the intermission alone. The offense took over from there, scoring on three second-half drives that began with picks by the defense. All of the team's points in the game came off of turnovers.

Freshman John Dempsey (Secane, Pa.) recorded the first two interceptions of his collegiate career as Villanova continually rattled Penn quarterbacks Robert Irvin and Bryan Walker. The pair combined to complete 23-of-42 passes in the game but the Quakers did not score after the first quarter.

Offensively for the Wildcats, junior Phil Atkinson (Media, Pa.) caught five passes for 112 yards and three touchdowns. The wide receiver had just two career touchdowns prior to this evening's game. He became a favorite target in the game of sophomore quarterback Antwon Young (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), who needed to complete just 16 passes to throw for 241 yards and four touchdowns. He also threw a touchdown pass to senior Matt Sherry (Rumford, R.I.).

Penn opened the scoring just over three minutes into the game on Irvin's 17-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Derham. Late in the period Bryan Walker threw a seven-yard score to Braden Lepisto and the Quakers retook the lead at 14-7.

By that time, however, the Villanova defense had begun to show its form. Midway through the first quarter Young threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Atkinson on a four-play drive that began after an interception by junior Darrel Young (Amityville, N.Y.). Junior Joe Marcoux (Campbell Hall, N.Y.) kicked a 21-yard field goal in the second quarter to cap a 14-play drive that started after the first career interception by senior Eugene Clay (Allentown, Pa.).

Despite trailing 14-10 at halftime, the Wildcats didn't waste time in gaining and then holding the lead for good after the break. Young threw his second touchdown pass to Atkinson five minutes into the third quarter and Marcoux drilled a 29-yard field goal three minutes later for a 20-14 lead.

Sherry and Atkinson caught touchdown passes just over three minutes apart early in the fourth quarter to seal the game. The other players who had interceptions in the game were freshman Anthony Johnson (Atlanta, Ga.), junior Salim Koroma (Germantown, Md.) and senior Zach Mariacher (New Castle, Pa.).

Villanova gained 356 yards of total offense and Penn 293 in a contest that featured a combined 143 offensive plays. The Wildcats ran 76 plays and the Quakers 67. Lepisto caught 11 passes for 123 yards as Penn was forced to continue relying on its passing game. The team managed just 45 yards on the ground on 25 carries.

After two straight home games, the Wildcats return both to the road and to Colonial Athletic Association play next Saturday. Villanova visits James Madison in a game that will begin at Noon.

NOTES: There have been two other times in school history when the Wildcats had seven interceptions in a game ... They came on November 16, 1940 against Manhattan and October 20, 1946 against Georgetown ... The series between Villanova and Penn dates back to 1905 although the squads have faced each other just 12 times overall ... The Quakers won the first five meetings and the Wildcats have won the past seven ... Penn's last win came in 1911 ... Villanova has won the game between the two rivals in four straight years now ... The Wildcats have allowed Penn just 20 points in the second half in those four games, including no points allowed in the second half in the last two meetings.