Sept. 25, 2010
VILLANOVA, Pa. -- In a span of 90 seconds late in the fourth quarter, junior wide receiver Norman White (Hammonton, N.J.) caught a go-ahead, 21-yard touchdown pass and junior cornerback James Pitts (Montclair, N.J.) sealed the game with a 56-yard interception return for a touchdown as No. 1 Villanova (3-1) won its 13th straight home game, beating No. 24 Penn (1-1) at Villanova Stadium on Saturday night.
All of the game's points came in the second and fourth quarters and White's second touchdown of the season accounted for the third and final lead change of the contest. The visiting Quakers took a one-point lead on a field goal with 9:10 remaining but the Wildcats went 74 yards on 10 plays on their ensuing drive to reclaim the advantage for good at 15-10.
On its next series, Penn moved 26 yards and into Villanova territory but on a first down play from the Wildcats 46-yard line Pitts recorded his first interception of the season and returned it 56 yards to likely put the game out of reach at 22-10 with 2:59 left to play.
The contest, in its entirety, was well in line with the kind of game that has been the norm between these teams in recent years. Villanova has defeated the Quakers every season since the teams renewed their rivalry back in 2004 but four of the seven meetings have been decided by seven points or less, including two matchups that came down to the final play.
In addition the final swings of momentum in the fourth quarter, another terrific job by the Wildcats defense helped determine the final outcome. Penn scored the game's first points on a touchdown with 11:37 to play in the second quarter but were limited to just three points the rest of the way. Even the field goal made by the Quakers seemed hard to come by, as Penn had not scored a point after halftime in the previous four consecutive meetings against Villanova.
Senior defensive back Fred Maldonado (West Chester, Pa.) had a game-high 10 tackles and the Wildcats made five tackles for a loss. Pitts finished the night with four solo tackles and two assisted stops, one tackle for loss and two pass breakups to along with the game-changing interception.
Villanova first got on the board on a safety in the second period, while a one-yard touchdown run by senior running back Angelo Babbaro (Canfield, Ohio) at the 6:20 mark of the quarter gave the Wildcats their first lead at 9-7.
Against a strong Quakers defense, Villanova eventually managed to run for 157 yards as a team, with fifth-year running back Aaron Ball (Los Angeles, Calif.) and senior quarterback Chris Whitney (Warminster, Pa.) carrying the ball for 81 and 52 yards, respectively. Whitney also completed 10-of-12 passes for 155 yards and the one touchdown pass to White.
Penn was led offensively by Billy Ragone, who was 11-of-20 threw the air for 147 yards. Matt Tuten had a game-high six receptions for 89 yards, while Brandon Colavita ran for a two-yard score on the Quakers only touchdown of the game.
Following two straight home games, the Wildcats will go back on the road for a critical conference matchup next week. Villanova visits William & Mary at 3:30 p.m. next Saturday in the first meeting between the teams since last year's memorable FCS semifinal game at Villanova Stadium.
NOTES: The Wildcats are 21-1 in their last 22 home contests, including 13 consecutive victories since a 23-19 loss to James Madison on October 25, 2008 ... Villanova leads the all-time series with Penn by a 10-5 margin following tonight's victory ... The Quakers won the first five meetings, which fell between 1905-11, while the Wildcats have won 10 straight in the series ... Nine of those 10 wins have come since 1999 ... On the last Villanova possession in the third quarter, Ball broke away for a 51-yard run before fumbling at the Penn 15-yard line ... The Quakers recovered the ball at their own 1-yard line and eventually drove 88 yards before Andrew Samson kicked a go-ahead 19-yard field goal that gave Penn a 10-9 lead ... Samson had missed a 38-yard attempt earlier in the game ... The Quakers had exactly 100 rushing yards for the game ... It was only the fifth time in 19 contests since the start of last season that an opponent has run for 100 or more yards against the Wildcats defense.