Oct. 10, 2009
DURHAM, N.H.--A pair of field goals in the fourth quarter were the difference in the game and No. 2 Villanova (5-1, 2-1 CAA) lost its first game of the season by a 28-24 margin to No. 5 New Hampshire (5-0, 2-0 CAA) on Saturday afternoon at Cowell Stadium. After the visiting Wildcats rallied from a 15-point deficit in the first half to take a 24-22 lead, the hosts of the same name went on top for good in the fourth quarter and fended off another comeback bid by Villanova.
In the last six minutes of the game, Villanova started three drives inside its own 20-yard line and each time were unable to get across midfield while working against the dwindling clock. On the first play of a drive that started with 5:42 remaining, New Hampshire intercepted a pass at the Wildcats 11-yard line, returned it back to the line of scrimmage at the six-yard line and eventually kicked their third and final field goal of the game with 4:11 left to close the scoring.
Following the ensuing kickoff, Villanova started from its own 16-yard line but moved only 19 yards on seven plays before turning the ball over on downs. New Hampshire went three-and-out and Villanova got the ball back for the final time at its own four-yard line with just 1:30 remaining. The Wildcats went 31 yards on 10 plays before once again turning the ball over on downs with only 22 seconds remaining and no timeouts left.
Junior wide receiver Matt Szczur (Erma, N.J.) had first a receiving touchdown and then a long rushing score in between a field goal by redshirt freshman kicker Nick Yako (Cleveland, Ohio) as Villanova scored 17 unanswered points in the second and third quarters to turn a 22-7 deficit into a 24-22 lead. Yako's field goal came as time expired at the end of the first half and trimmed the margin to 22-17 at the intermission. Szczur's 58-yard touchdown run with 10:58 to play in the third quarter gave Villanova its first lead of the game.
As usual, Szczur filled a number of roles for Villanova in the game and racked up 283 all-purpose yards. He caught eight passes for 83 yards, ran the ball five times for 66 yards and also returned five kickoffs for a total of 134 yards. Szczur accounted for two of the three touchdowns by the Wildcats in the game and senior quarterback Antwon Young (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) ran for an 18-yard score in the second quarter that got Villanova on the board after it fell into an early 10-0 hole.
Young ran the ball nine times for 39 yards and a score while also completing 7-of-15 passes for 62 yards. Junior quarterback Chris Whitney (Warminster, Pa.) threw for 109 yards on 10-of-18 accuracy with one touchdown and one interception. His 26-yard touchdown pass to Szczur with 10:12 left in the second quarter began the first Villanova comeback of the day. Whitney completed nine of his first 11 pass attempts but was just 1-of-7 after that before Young returned for the final two Wildcat possessions.
New Hampshire quarterback R.J. Toman threw for 292 yards on 15-of-28 passing with one touchdown and one interception. He was able to find tight end Scott Sicko downfield at the right times and Sicko tallied 135 receiving yards on just three catches. After Villanova had pulled to within 10-7 in the first quarter, Toman threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Sicko on the first play of the next New Hampshire drive. In the fourth quarter, Toman found Sicko for a 50-yard pass that brought the Wildcats to the Villanova 16-yard line and set New Hampshire up for the field goal that gave them the lead for good.
Toman also had a one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter and Chad Kackert opened the scoring with a 12-yard touchdown run in the first period for New Hampshire. Kackert ran for 67 yards on 26 carries and also caught three passes for 27 yards.
Senior wide receiver Brandyn Harvey (Spring Valley, Calif.) made six receptions for 69 yards for Villanova, which had a nearly-even split between rushing and receiving yards. The Wildcats gained 181 yards on the ground and 171 through the air. Junior running back Aaron Ball (Los Angeles, Calif.) ran for 57 yards on 14 carries and Whitney picked up 33 net yards on 19 rushes.
On the defensive side of the ball, senior linebacker Osayi Osunde (Bloomsburg, Pa.) had a team-high 10 tackles for Villanova, including seven solo tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Junior defensive back Fred Maldonado (West Chester, Pa.) had an interception for the Wildcats, his second of the year and the team's 10th. Villanova has thrown just two interceptions of its own through six games.
The Wildcats return to action on the road next weekend when they visit James Madison at 3:30 p.m. for a game that will air live on the Comcast Network.