Nov. 10, 2007
TOWSON, Md. - A strong defensive effort and consistent running game were the decisive factors on Saturday afternoon as Villanova (6-4, 4-3 CAA) defeated Towson (3-7, 1-6 CAA) 14-12 at Johnny Unitas Stadium. In doing so, the Wildcats clinch a winning record for the second straight season and 10th time in the last 12 years under head coach Andy Talley.
Villanova dominated control of the ball and held possession for more than 38 minutes in the contest. The Wildcats rushed the ball 61 times to gain 194 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, a smothering defense forced the host Tigers to go three-and-out on six of their 12 possessions in the game and go without a touchdown until the final minute of the fourth quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter a 10-yard touchdown pass from freshman Chris Whitney (Warminster, Pa.) to junior Phil Atkinson (Media, Pa.) gave Villanova a 14-6 lead with 12:01 remaining in the game. Towson stalled on each of its next three drives but gave itself one final chance on a five-play, 66-yard drive that resulted in a Demetrius Harrison touchdown reception with 52 seconds to play.
With the Tigers needing a two-point conversion to tie the game, quarterback Sean Schaefer looked for Harrison again, but the pass was incomplete in the end zone as freshman John Dempsey (Secane, Pa.) bothered Harrison as he tried to make the catch.
Not much was doing for either team offensively in the first half, when a 32-yard field goal by Mark Bencivengo with 5:19 left in the second quarter gave Towson a 3-0 lead and accounted for the lone points of the opening half. The Wildcats eventually got on the board on the first career touchdown from redshirt freshman Aaron Ball (Los Angeles, Calif.) at the 7:52 mark of the third quarter. Ball ran in from two yards to cap a 14-play drive.
A second field goal by Bencivengo with 3:30 to play in the third period trimmed the Villanova lead to 7-6 before Whitney's fifth touchdown pass of the season early in the fourth quarter stretched it back to eight points.
The Wildcats ran a season-high 83 offensive plays, including the 61 rushing attempts. Whitney was efficient when he needed to be, though, completing 16-of-21 passes for 116 yards. Senior Matt Dicken (Cape May, N.J.) carried 30 times for 133 yards, including a 103-yard performance on 23 carries in the second half alone. Ball rushed eight times for 46 yards.
The first scoring opportunity of the game for Villanova came late in the second quarter when junior Joe Marcoux (Campbell Hall, N.Y.) missed a 37-yard field goal after a mishandled snap. The Wildcats were in field goal range again with just 23 seconds left in the half and Marcoux came onto the field for what would have been a 32-yard attempt on fourth-and-six at the Towson 15-yard line.
Instead, Villanova ran a trick play on a fake field goal and holder Michael Bradway (Linwood, N.J.) threw an 11-yard pass to junior linebacker Darrel Young (Amityville, N.Y.). However, on first-and-goal at the Tigers four-yard line, Whitney fumbled and Towson subsequently took a knee to end the first half with the Wildcats still scoreless.
Schaefer completed 22-of-36 passes for 242 yards and one interception for Towson, which gained only 27 rushing yards in the contest. Marcus Lee caught nine passes for 95 yards and Harrison had seven receptions for 78 yards and the lone Tigers touchdown.
Villanova will play its season finale at home against Delaware next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The game is being billed as the "Battle of the Blue" during Rivalry Week and the Wildcats will be bidding for their second win in a row over their longtime conference rivals.
NOTES: Villanova sophomore Tim Kukucka (Wall, N.J.) had five solo tackles in the game, including two sacks and three tackles for losses that totaled 19 yards ... He also forced two fumbles ... Towson linebacker Brian Bradford had a career-high 19 tackles to lead five Tigers players with at least 10 stops.