Oct. 24, 2009
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Head coach Andy Talley won his 200th career game and No. 4 Villanova (7-1, 4-1 CAA) won its Homecoming game on Saturday afternoon by a 36-7 score over Rhode Island (1-6, 0-4 CAA) at soggy Villanova Stadium. Junior wide receiver Matt Szczur (Erma, N.J.) ran for one touchdown an threw for another in a productive opening half for the Wildcats, who built a 21-0 lead at halftime on a rain-filled afternoon and eased past the Rams the rest of the way to go into their bye week with a victory.
Villanova dominated control of the ball throughout the game, holding possession for more than 36 minutes and running up 500 yards of total offense. That included 376 yards on the ground, as the Wildcats surpassed 300 rushing yards for the third time this season. Junior quarterback Chris Whitney (Warminster, Pa.) ran for 124 yards and junior running back Aaron Ball (Los Angeles, Calif.) carried 14 times for 99 yards and a touchdown.
While the offense ran the ball with ease, the Villanova defense was up to the task of stopping the Rams when they did have the ball. Rhode Island was limited to 30 net yards on the ground and just 151 yards of total offense. The Wildcats had a 74-56 edge in number of plays run during the game. Rhode Island quarterback Chris Paul-Etienne completed 15-of-33 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown.
The end of the game was a soggy one, as a steady rain for most of the game turned into a downpour for the better part of the fourth quarter. Villanova was not hurt by three turnovers in the game, as Whitney threw for an interception early in the contest and also fumbled, while Szczur lost a fumble as well.
Szczur opened the scoring with a one-yard touchdown run at the 4:37 mark of the first quarter to cap an 11-play, 82-yard drive for the Wildcats on their first possession of the game. In the second quarter, Ball ran in from four yards to make the score 14-0 with 9:51 remaining in the first half and sophomore wide receiver Mikey Reynolds (Moorestown, N.J.) caught a three-yard pass from Szczur with 3:41 left in the second period.
Reynolds made two catches for five yards and the touchdown while also running the ball twice for 34 yards. Szczur ran for 29 yards on 12 carries, had one reception for 22 yards and also threw the one touchdown pass. Whitney was 11-of-15 for 121 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Villanova scored once each in the third and fourth quarters. Senior wide receiver Brandyn Harvey (Spring Valley, Calif.) caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Whitney with 6:05 to play in the third period and sophomore running back Lawrence Doss (Bellflower, Calif.) ran in for a six-yard touchdown pass with 1:50 left in the game. Harvey had seven receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown and returned four punts for a total of 54 yards, including a 33-yard return.
After Doss' touchdown run in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats inserted junior placekicker John Nelson (Newtown, Conn.) to attempt the extra point in torrential rain. His kick was blocked, but Villanova wound up with a two-point conversion when junior tight end Chris Farmer (Philadelphia, Pa.) recovered the blocked kick and ran into the end zone.
The lone score of the game for the Rams came with 9:59 left in the third quarter when Ty Bynum caught a seven-yard touchdown pass that made the score 21-7. Rhode Island went 46 yards on nine plays in 3:47 on its first possession of the second half. Bynum had a team-high five receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown.
Villanova has a bye next week and returns to action on the road on November 7 at No. 1 Richmond. That game will kick off at 3:30 p.m.