Late Defensive Stand Lifts No. 7 Villanova over Northeastern, 20-14
Nov. 1, 2008
BROOKLINE, Mass. - Sophomore Marquis Kirkland (Syracuse, N.Y.) preserved a six-point lead with an interception at the two-yard line and No. 7 Villanova (6-2, 4-1 CAA) held the ball for the final 5:39 on Saturday afternoon to defeat Northeastern (2-7, 1-4 CAA) by a 20-14 score at Parsons Field. Head coach Andy Talley tied the all-time record for conference wins by a head coach with his 97th career league win.
The Wildcats scored 20 unanswered points in the first half to take a 20-7 lead by the intermission but then had to hold on to an increasingly tentative lead in the closing minutes. After sophomore quarterback Chris Whitney (Warminster, Pa.) was picked off for the second time in the game, the Huskies took over possession at their own 34-yard line with 10:17 to play.
Northeastern went 53 yards in 11 plays that consumed 4:38 of clock time and had a first down at the Villanova 13-yard line. However, Anthony Orio threw one of his two interceptions on the next play as Kirkland returned possession to the Wildcats.
With the ball back in its hands, Villanova does what it has done better than any other CAA team this season - hold the ball. After starting the game's final drive at their own 8-yard line, the Wildcats ran out the clock by driving 88 yards on 12 plays and forcing the Huskies to use their final two timeouts in the process. Sophomore Aaron Ball (Los Angeles, Calif.) ran eight yards to the Northeastern 3-yard for a first down with less than a minute left and Villanova took a knee on the next play to end the game.
For the third straight game the Wildcats eclipsed 200 yards on the ground as Ball ran for 91 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries and Whitney picked up 51 yards on 14 carries. Whitney also threw for 161 yards and a touchdown on 11-of-16 passing, while junior Antwon Young (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) played one series and was 3-of-3 for 49 yards with a rush for nine yards.
Villanova put together touchdown drives on each of its first two possessions but the winning margin came from senior Joe Marcoux (Campbell Hall, N.Y.), who kicked a pair of field goals to tie the team's single-season record with 13 made field goals this season. He made his attempts from 28 yards and 42 yards in the second quarter before missing a 38-yard attempt wide right in the third quarter which would have broken the record.
Tony Lott caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Orio with 8:49 left in the third quarter for the only points of the second half. The Wildcats held the ball for more than 11 minutes in the third quarter, nearly 20 minutes in the second half and over 32 minutes for the game.
Whitney improved to 7-3 as a starter in his collegiate career and was crisp from the start, completing his first six passes for 112 yards in the first half. He threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Matt Szczur (Erma, N.J.) on the first Villanova possession of the game to cap a six-play, 60-yard drive that took just 2:15 to tie the game after the Huskies got on the board first.
Northeastern nearly went three-and-out on the game's opening drive but on fourth-and-eight from the Huskies 30-yard line Ron Conway successfully faked a punt and threw a 14-yard pass to Tony Torres to keep the drive going. Northeastern eventually converted two third-down opportunities during the drive and Alex Broomfield threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Brian Mandeville on the 12th play of the drive.
That score only caused the Wildcats to roar back into the game as sophomore Angelo Babbaro (Canfield, Ohio) returned the ensuing kickoff 32 yards to start Villanova's drive at its own 40-yard line. He also carried for 14 yards on the second play of the drive as the Wildcats offensive engine revved up.
Senior Phil Atkinson (Media, Pa.) caught a team-high six passes for 58 yards and junior Brandyn Harvey (Spring Valley, Calif.) had 73 receiving yards on three receptions, including a 54-yard catch on the team's second drive that eventually led to Ball's six-yard touchdown run to open the second quarter.
Orio finished the game 16-of-25 for 158 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions and Broomfield ran for 48 yards on 18 carries. The Huskies were held to 65 yards on the ground on 27 carries by the CAA's best team at stopping the run.
Kirkland led Villanova with eight tackles and senior Darrel Young (Amityville, N.Y.) had seven tackles and one of the team's two sacks. Junior Osayi Osunde (Bloomsburg, Pa.) had the other Wildcat interception. Villanova returns home for its next two games and will take on New Hampshire this coming Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in a game that will be televised live on CN-8. The Wildcats (of New Hampshire) are currently ranked No. 9 in the country and will be coming off a 45-25 win at home over Hofstra.