Wildcats Edge Towson 34-31 in Final Home Game
Nov. 15, 2008
VILLANOVA, Pa. - In its final home game of the regular season, No. 6 Villanova (8-2, 6-1 CAA) faced stiff pressure from a game Towson (3-8, 1-6 CAA) team hungry for an upset but pulled out a 34-31 win on Saturday afternoon at Villanova Stadium. The Wildcats have now won eight games overall and six conference games for the first time since 2002.
From the game's outset the Tigers did an effective job of taking away one of Villanova's top strengths - holding possession of the ball. Despite an offense that relies heavily on passing, Towson held the ball for more than 10 minutes in the first quarter and over 18 minutes in the first half. The result was the Tigers scoring the game's first 10 points and holding the Wildcats off the scoreboard until the 11:15 mark of the second quarter.
Junior Brandyn Harvey (Spring Valley, Calif.) caught a four-yard touchdown pass to get Villanova on the board but Towson responded with a 10-play drive that consumed 4:45 and produced a 17-7 lead for the visitors with 4:09 remaining in the opening half. The game featured three lead changes and the Tigers took the lead for the final time, 24-20, on Marcus Lee's nine-yard touchdown reception five minutes into the third quarter.
Despite briefly trailing during the third quarter the Wildcats seized the game's momentum late in the first half and essentially held onto it for the rest of the game. Villanova scored twice in the final 64 seconds of the second quarter and led 20-17 at the intermission. Sophomore Aaron Ball (Los Angeles, Calif.) ran in for a three-yard score with 1:04 left in the half and freshman James Pitts (Montclair, N.J.) returned an interception 65 yards for a touchdown with 12 seconds showing.
In the third period, Ball's second three-yard run of the game gave Villanova the lead for good, 27-24, just 89 seconds after the Tigers had gone back in front. Sophomore Louis Adeyemi (Los Angeles, Calif.) had a one-yard touchdown run with 13:05 to play in the fourth quarter that stretched the Wildcat lead to 34-24. Villanova won for the 11th time in its last 12 home games despite being outgained in total offensive yards by Towson, 402-386. The Tigers wound up holding the ball for 32:59 to interrupt a streak of three straight games in which the Wildcats possessed the ball for over 32 minutes.
Sophomore quarterback Chris Whitney (Warminster, Pa.) completed 14-of-23 passes for a career-high 212 yards and also ran for 37 yards on five carries. Senior Phil Atkinson (Media, Pa.) caught a team-best seven passes for 78 yards and sophomore Matt Szczur (Erma, N.J.) had two receptions for 54 yards. Ball rushed for two touchdowns for the second time this season and gained 62 yards on 23 carries, while Szczur netted 68 yards on the ground.
Sean Schaefer threw for 326 yards and four touchdowns on 35-of-47 accuracy in the game and with his 18th completion of the afternoon became the third quarterback in FCS history to have at least 1,000 completions in his career. Schaefer's two-yard touchdown pass to tight end John Godlasky with 5:12 left in the game narrowed the score to 34-31 but Villanova ran out the final five minutes with possession to hold on for the win.
The Wildcats close the regular season next Saturday at 2:30 p.m. with a game at Delaware. The contest will be televised live on CN8.
NOTES: Whitney registered his first career 200-yard passing game ... Saturday was Senior Day at Villanova and the football team honored its graduating seniors in a ceremony held prior to the start of the game.