Oct. 5, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Sophomore quarterback John Robertson (Paramus, N.J.) scored on a one-yard sneak with 28 seconds remaining and No. 20 Villanova (3-2, 2-0 CAA) came away with its third straight victory in thrilling fashion, edging William & Mary (3-2, 1-1 CAA) by a final score of 20-16 at Villanova Stadium on a warm and muggy Saturday afternoon. Robertson's fifth rushing touchdown of the season capped a 13-play drive in the closing minutes and the Wildcats only lead of the game was just enough for Villanova to prevail in a matchup of two of the top defensive teams from CAA Football.
The game-deciding drive began after the Tribe kicked a 24-yard field goal with 6:17 to play to retake the lead at 16-13. Villanova began its ensuing drive from the 20-yard line and picked up four first downs as it methodically moved down the field. On first-and-10 from the 12-yard line William & Mary was called for pass interference and the penalty set up first-and-goal for the Wildcats at the two-yard line. Following a false start penalty against Villanova, Robertson ran for six yards down to the goal line and - on the next play - snuck into the end zone with 28 seconds showing on the clock.
"Any time you play a close game against a 3-1 team, and a William & Mary team, you are thankful that things went right," Villanova head coach Andy Talley said. "On that last drive a million things could go wrong. You've got to have a little luck in the end and we did."
In desperation mode after getting the ball back at their own 45-yard line with 23 seconds to play, the Tribe threw three incomplete passes. A 10-yard pass interference penalty was called against the Wildcats with two seconds to play and William & Mary had a final chance from the Villanova 40-yard line but the game ended with sophomore defensive end Reggie Paris (Pemberton, N.J.) sacking Tribe quarterback Steve Cluley to seal the win.
Robertson wound up completing 21-of-28 passes for 154 yards and also had 18 carries for 70 yards and the game-winning score. Junior running back Kevin Monangai (Roseland, N.J.) ran 14 times for 93 yards, including a 54-yard run early in the third quarter which eventually led to the Wildcats first touchdown of the game. Junior wide receiver Poppy Livers (Seaside, Calif.) had a team-high six receptions for 42 yards and Robertson completed passes to nine different receivers in the game.
Of his game-winning touchdown, Robertson said, "We had a really good attitude going into that drive. The team was thinking that we were going to win and it was also a chance for me to right my wrongs. I threw a pick in the first half but...you have to have a short memory. We just had to knuckle up [on the last drive] and push right into the goal line."
Villanova overcame two first-half turnovers and a deficit of as many as 10 points (13-3) early in the third quarter before its offense began to find its footing against the William & Mary defense. For the game the Wildcats finished with 333 yards of total offense, compared with 271 yards for the Tribe. The real story was the second-half yardage totals, however. Following halftime Villanova outgained William & Mary by a 236-109 margin and rushed for 161 yards, compared with having only 18 rushing yards in the first half.
Tribe kicker John Carpenter kicked the second of his three field goals with 11:41 left in the third quarter to give William & Mary a 13-3 lead. On the first play of the next Wildcats drive Monangai broke away for 54 yards and carried the ball from the Villanova 25-yard line all the way down to the Tribe's 21-yard line. He took the ball again on the next play for an eight-yard gain and then junior running back Austin Medley (Franklinville, N.J.) rushed for a 13-yard touchdown to pull the Wildcats to within 13-10. The 75-yard scoring drive took just 1:08 to complete.
Senior kicker Mark Hamilton (Gaithersburg, Md.), who made both of his field goal attempts in the game, connected from 35 yards with 11:47 left in the fourth quarter to tie the score at 13-13. He had also kicked a 21-yard field goal in the closing minute of the first quarter to account for the first Villanova points of the game.
William & Mary opened the scoring on an eight-yard touchdown pass from starting quarterback Michael Graham to Sean Ballard with 6:09 to play in the first quarter. That wound up being the only touchdown allowed in the game by the Wildcats defense, which has yielded just 28 points to the opposition in the team's current three-game winning streak.
Junior linebacker Joey Harmon (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) led all players with 12 tackles for the game. Paris and senior defensive end Rakim Cox (San Diego, Calif.) each had sacks and sophomore safety Cameron McCurry (Orange Park, Fla.) had an interception.
Mikal Abdul-Saboor ran for 78 yards on 19 carries for the Tribe, while Sean Ballard led the team's receivers with six receptions for 32 yards and a touchdown. Graham completed 7-of-10 passes for 66 yards and a score, while Steve Cluley (4-of-9, 33 yards, INT) and Brent Caprio (4-of-6, 56 yards) also saw time under center for William & Mary.
Villanova wrapped up a three-game home stand with today's victory and will now prepare for playing four of the next five games on the road. That stretch begins with a nationally-televised game at Towson next Saturday night. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the game will air live on NBC Sports Network.
NOTES: The Wildcats and Tribe were meeting for the first time in two years after not playing last season ... The previous meeting between the teams also ended in a 20-16 score at Villanova Stadium, although that game was won by William & Mary on October 1, 2011 ... The Tribe lead the all-time series by a 16-14-1 margin ... Villanova head coach Andy Talley is 12-11-1 in his career versus William & Mary ... Robertson's rushing touchdown was his fifth this season and the 19th of his career ... Robertson is tied for ninth place in school history in rushing touchdowns with Ron Sency (1985-88) and Matt Dicken (2004-07) ... Ahead of him in eighth place is Vince Thompson (1975-78) with 21 career rushing touchdowns ... Robertson also moved into eighth place in the Wildcats record book for career total offense with 4,312 yards ... Monangai has 1,708 career rushing yards and moved into 13th place in school history with today's 93-yard performance ... Hamilton moved into the top 10 in the Villanova record book for career scoring ... His eight-point day gives him 188 career points and ranks him 10th all-time, six points behind Anthony Cowsette (1993-96) for ninth place.