Nov. 9, 2013
KINGSTON, R.I. - Sophomore quarterback John Robertson (Paramus, N.J.) tied a career high with four rushing touchdowns and Villanova (5-5, 4-3 CAA) cruised to a 45-0 victory over Rhode Island (3-8, 2-5 CAA) at Meade Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Robertson ran for 133 yards on just 12 carries while moving up five spots on the Wildcats list of career rushing leaders. Villanova scored touchdowns on its first four possessions and six of its first seven drives while building a 35-0 lead by halftime.
Robertson set the career rushing record for a Wildcats quarterback and has now run for 2,262 yards in his career. That ranks fourth in school history overall and surpasses the previous quarterback record of 2,160 yards held by Chris Whitney (2007-10). Robertson has run for 1,240 yards this year, which is the second-highest single-season total in the Villanova record book.
"I don't focus on any of the stats," Robertson said. "I just want to put my team in position to win the game, so whether I need to run a lot, or a throw a lot of touchdowns, I just want to put us in a position to win. We have a chance for a winning season and that was one of our goals for the year. We also have a chance to beat Delaware in two weeks and that is always a big game for us."
On the defensive end the Wildcats stifled the Rams from start to finish and limited them to just 88 yards of total offense. Rhode Island went 9-of-22 through the air for 53 yards and picked up just 35 yards on the ground on 25 carries. The last shutout for the Villanova defense was a 35-0 win over Lehigh on September 11, 2010.
"We got off to a quick start today and that was the game plan," Wildcats head coach Andy Talley said. "We jumped on them early and got the lead. It was important for John to run well. He did that and we distributed the ball to our running backs in good fashion. From a defensive standpoint I thought that our pass rush was really good today and that was the difference. We got after their quarterback early and made it difficult for him to throw."
On just the third play from scrimmage in the game sophomore running back Javon White (Telford, Pa.) ran for 46 yards and Robertson followed with a 25-yard run to put Villanova in scoring position at the five-yard line. Robertson ran again for a five-yard touchdown to open the scoring at the 10:45 mark of the first quarter, and the rout was on.
Robertson scored again from four yards out with 7:21 to play in the opening period and that run broke Whitney's quarterback rushing record. Junior running back Kevin Monangai (Roseland, N.J.) had two rushing touchdowns of his own in the game, with the first coming on a one-yard carry on the first play of the second quarter. The next time the Wildcats got the ball they drove 90 yards on just nine plays, including 57 rushing yards from Robertson that culminated with a three-yard scoring run.
In addition to his rushing stats Robertson also went 8-of-11 through the air for 179 yards. Junior running back Austin Medley (Franklinville, N.J.) went 60 yards on a catch-and-run play on the second Villanova drive of the game, while junior slot wide receiver Poppy Livers (Seaside, Calif.) had three catches for 39 yards.
Robertson was just a part of a high-powered running game for the Wildcats, who ran for a season-high 338 yards. It was the second time this season that Villanova surpassed 300 rushing yards and the sixth time in the past eight weeks that the Wildcats have run for at least 200 yards in a contest. Monangai finished with 12 carries for 56 yards, White ran for 56 yards on 10 carries and senior fullback Ransford Quarrie (Hamilton, N.J.) picked up 58 yards on eight carries.
Villanova forced the Rams to punt on each of their first five possessions and Rhode Island wound up punting 11 times by the end of the game. The third of those punts was blocked by sophomore defensive end Reggie Paris (Pemberton, N.J.), which set up a short field for the Wildcats on the drive which resulted in Monangai's first touchdown. The blocked kick by Paris was the first of his career and the sixth blocked kick by Villanova this season.
Robertson scored from 10 yards out with 1:07 to play before halftime and Monangai ran for a five-yard score on the first series of the second half to make the score 42-0. That opening drive of the second half was the only one to feature Robertson and the majority of the Villanova starters, as the Wildcats slowed down the game and let their running game do the work the rest of the way.
Senior kicker Mark Hamilton (Gaithersburg, Md.) connected on a 22-yard field goal with 5:43 to play in the third quarter which accounted for the final points of the game. The only question at that point was whether or not the Wildcats would finish off the shutout. Following the Hamilton field goal the teams combined for 10 drives the rest of the way, with those possessions leading to eight punts and one instance of a series ending on downs.
Villanova showed its depth by using 58 players in the game, including 25 players who made at least one tackle. Sophomore linebacker Don Cherry (Trumbull, Conn.) had a team-high six tackles and senior defensive end Rakim Cox (San Diego, Calif.) registered his CAA-best ninth sack of the season. He took down Rhode Island quarterback Bob Bentsen on the second Rams drive of the game. Although it was the only sack of the day for the Wildcats, it was one of seven tackles for loss that Villanova made in the game.
One game remains on the 2013 regular season schedule for the Wildcats, who have a bye upcoming next week. Villanova will host Delaware on November 23 at PPL Park, with kickoff scheduled for 3:30 p.m.