Nov. 6, 2010
KINGSTON, R.I. - Three turnovers and a blocked punt ultimately proved to be too much to overcome and No. 3 Villanova (6-3, 4-2 CAA) fell by a final score of 17-14 to Rhode Island (4-5, 3-3 CAA) at Meade Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Wildcats, who had turned the ball over just three times in their last six games prior to today's contest.
In the fourth quarter, Villanova trailed 10-7 with 2:19 remaining when a punt from its own 23-yard line was blocked and recovered in the end zone for a Rams touchdown that stretched the score to 17-7. A quick answer from the Wildcats trimmed the margin back to 17-14 with 1:43 left but when Villanova got the ball back a final time with just over a minute left a lost fumble on the second play sealed the outcome.
The strong defense of host Rhode Island held the Wildcats to a season-low 218 yards of total offense and Villanova was held off the scoreboard until the middle of the third quarter. In particular, the Wildcats vaunted running game was limited to just 68 net yards on 32 carries.
Senior running back Angelo Babbaro (Canfield, Ohio) had a three-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and senior quarterback Chris Whitney (Warminster, Pa.) threw a five-yard pass for a touchdown to junior wide receiver Norman White (Hammonton, N.J.) in the fourth period for the only Villanova points of the game.
Babbaro's touchdown run with 7:53 remaining in the third quarter tied the score at 7-7 and were the first points by either team since an interception return for a touchdown late in the first quarter spotted the Rams a 7-0 lead.
Whitney completed 22-of-33 passes for 150 yards with the one touchdown and the one pick. White came up with eight receptions for 75 yards and sophomore wide receiver Dorian Wells (West Covina, Calif.) made six catches for 29 yards. On the ground, Whitney finished with 32 yards on 12 carries.
After the touchdown by Babbaro in the third period the score remained tied at 7-7 until the closing minutes of the game. Louis Feinstein put Rhode Island ahead to stay at 10-7 with 3:43 remaining on a 19-yard field goal, points which were the decisive margin when the teams traded touchdowns on their successive possessions.
In the first quarter, Jarrod Williams returned an intercepted Whitney pass 33 yards to open the scoring. Willie McGinnis first blocked and then recovered the Wildcats punt in the fourth quarter which led to the final Rams points of the game.
Sophomore defensive back Eric Loper (Sicklerville, N.J.) led Villanova with eight tackles, including seven solo stops. He also had an interception.
Rhode Island was led offensively by quarterback Steve Probst, who ran for 101 yards on 18 carries and went 14-of-21 for 107 yards through the air with the one interception by Loper.
Next up for the Wildcats is a home game against New Hampshire next Saturday at Noon.
NOTES: Both touchdowns scored by the Rams in today's game came from the defense ... Villanova has limited opposing offenses to zero or one touchdown six times in nine outings this season ... The last time the Wildcats had a punt blocked was on October 4, 2008 at William & Mary ... Villanova has been held to fewer than 100 rushing yards in a game just five times in its last 43 contests ... Prior to today's game the Wildcats had surpassed 200 yards in all three games of its winning streak ... Villanova leads the all-time series against Rhode Island by a 14-3 margin and today's loss was its first in the series since 2005.