Rally Comes Up Short as Wildcats Lose Homecoming Game to No. 11 Maine, 37-35
Oct. 26, 2013
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Another superb effort by sophomore quarterback John Robertson (Paramus, N.J.) was not quite enough to rally No. 18 Villanova (4-4, 3-2 CAA) in its annual Homecoming game, as the Wildcats fell to No. 11 Maine (7-1, 4-0 CAA) by a final score of 37-35 at Villanova Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Robertson became the first player in Villanova history to rush for over 200 yards in consecutive games and also surpassed 1,000 yards on the ground for the second straight season.
The visiting Black Bears led by as many as 16 points (30-14) early in the third quarter before the Wildcats made a valiant comeback bid. Villanova scored two touchdowns in the third quarter and closed the gap to 30-28 entering the final period but trading touchdowns was the best the Wildcats could do in the closing 15 minutes.
Robertson's fourth rushing touchdown of the game, a new career high, pulled Villanova to within 37-35 with 4:17 left but Maine was able to run almost all the remaining time off the clock on its next possession before finally punting the ball away with less than 30 seconds to play. A pass by Robertson from the Wildcats own 26-yard line with 18 seconds remaining was intercepted, ending the chance for the late rally.
Villanova led just once and it came after the first drive of the game, when Robertson ran three times for 70 yards. His five-yard scoring run just 2:01 into the contest gave the Wildcats a 7-0 lead but from there the Black Bears would score 20 unanswered points and lead 20-7 midway through the second quarter. Robertson broke away for a 41-yard touchdown run with 2:58 left in the first half which made the score 20-14 and Maine kicked a 40-yard field goal as time expired to increase its lead to 23-14 at halftime.
Robertson finished the game with 22 carries for 214 yards and four touchdowns, while also completing 13-of-22 passes for 121 yards and a score. He continues to be unstoppable when running the ball and has racked up 620 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 81 carries in the past three games. Robertson has scored at least three touchdowns in each of these last three contests while making a steady move up the Villanova career charts in rushing, passing and total offense.
Junior wide receiver Poppy Livers (Seaside, Calif.) had four catches for 66 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown reception with 8:53 left in the third quarter which pulled the Wildcats to within 30-21. That play finished a drive in which Villanova went 74 yards on six plays in just 2:10. On the second play of the drive Robertson threw an off-balance pass towards the sideline and Livers tracked it down and made a diving catch for a 25-yard gain. Robertson also ran for 38 yards on the drive before hitting Livers again for the Wildcats first points of the second half.
Maine quarterback Marcus Wasilewski was as strong through the air as Robertson was on the ground. Wasilewski went 28-of-34 for 337 yards and two touchdowns. The trio of tight end Justin Perillo and wide receivers John Ebeling and Damarr Aultman combined to make 20 catches in the game.
After the quick score by Villanova to start the game, the Black Bears got their first points on a 39-yard field goal by Sean Decloux with 10:06 left in the first quarter. Less than five minutes later Aultman caught a 51-yard touchdown pass to give Maine a 10-7 lead that it would never relinquish. Nigel Jones ran for a 15-yard score with 1:48 left in the first quarter and Decloux kicked a 42-yard field goal in the second period which extended the margin to 20-7.
In the third quarter Robertson capped off an eight-play, 80-yard drive with an eight-yard touchdown run to make the score 30-28 with 16 seconds left in the third quarter. On the next Black Bears drive, however, Wasilewski converted four consecutive third-down plays and Maine went 75 yards on 13 plays to make the score 37-28 with 8:45 to play in the game. The final conversion by Wasilewski was a six-yard touchdown run on third-and-five.
The contest was the only home game in a five-game stretch for the Wildcats, who were coming off two straight road games. Villanova also goes on the road for its next two games, beginning next Saturday with a 2:30 p.m. kickoff at James Madison.