Nov. 17, 2012
NEWARK, Del. - Sophomore running back Kevin Monangai (Roseland, N.J.) and redshirt freshman quarterback John Robertson (Paramus, N.J.) each ran for over 130 yards and No. 16 Villanova (8-3, 5-6-2 CAA) closed out the regular season with a 41-10 victory over Delaware (5-6, 2-6 CAA) at Delaware Stadium on Saturday afternoon. This is the fourth time in the last five years that the Wildcats have registered at least eight victories.
Later on Saturday night Villanova learned that it had received the automatic bid from the CAA to the Division I Football Championship. Playoff selections will be announced on Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. on ESPNU.
Villanova never trailed in the game and scored 27 unanswered points in the second half to seal the outcome. Monangai and Robertson each had rushing touchdowns and the Wildcats returned two interceptions for touchdowns late in the fourth quarter to put an exclamation point on the victory. Senior safety Ronnie Akins (Lansdale, Pa.) and senior cornerback Eric Loper (Sicklerville, N.J.) each brought interceptions back for scores.
Monangai picked up 146 yards on 24 carries while surpassing the century mark for the fifth consecutive game and Robertson ran for 134 yards on 17 rushes. It marked only the third time in school history and the first time since 1977 that Villanova had two players surpass 130 rushing yards in the same game. Monangai finishes the regular season as the leading rusher in CAA Football with 1,190 rushing yards and an average of 108.2 rushing yards per game.
Although the Wildcats surpassed 300 rushing yards as a team for the fourth time in the last five games, not all of the offense came on the ground in Saturday afternoon's victory. Robertson was 15-of-21 through the air for 193 yards and his 13-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Norman White (Hammonton, N.J.) less than four minutes into the game opened the scoring in the first quarter.
White hauled in his 19th career score to give Villanova a 7-0 with 11:34 left in the opening period but the Blue Hens answered immediately when Michael Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown which tied the score at 7-7. That was the only time all day that the score was tied, as the Wildcats took the lead for good midway through the second quarter and never looked back.
During the midst of an 11-play drive in the second quarter Villanova converted a 4th-and-1 play from the Delaware 37-yard line when Monangai ran for 18 yards and a first down. Five plays later his seven-yard scamper into the end zone gave the Wildcats a 14-7 lead. The scoring drive encompassed 76 yards in 4:54 and included 57 yards on the ground.
By the time the teams headed to the locker room at halftime Monangai and Robertson had each run for 95 yards and Villanova as a team had 198 yards on the ground. Less than five minutes before the end of the quarter however, Sean Baner kicked a 30-yard field goal for the Blue Hens which cut into the Wildcats lead and made the score 14-10 at halftime.
Villanova was due to receive the ball to start the second half but Delaware tried an onside kick and recovered the ball at the Wildcats 44-yard line. Baner missed a 42-yard field goal wide right two minutes into the third quarter though, and Villanova took over at its own 26-yard line and ate up a great deal of clock time in a methodical but effective drive.
Junior kicker Mark Hamilton (Gaithersburg, Md.) kicked a 28-yard field goal with 6:26 to play in the third period to extend the Wildcats lead to 17-10 and later made an attempt from 37 yards early in the fourth quarter to make the score 20-10 with 13:30 left in the game. It was the first time in a span of 17 games dating back to last season that the Wildcats made more than one field goal in a game. Hamilton is 8-of-11 on field goal attempts this season.
Villanova kept the clock moving with its ground game and Delaware had just one possession in between the field goals that Hamilton made. They punted on that possession late in the third quarter but after the second Wildcats field goal the Blue Hens were putting together a nice drive of their own before Akins registered the first of his two interceptions in the game.
Delaware drove from its own 21-yard line to the Villanova 20-yard line with the game still within reach at 20-10. After Julian Laing's seven-yard run for a first down at the edge of the red zone, quarterback Trent Hurley's pass was picked off by Akins in the end zone for a touchback.
With the ball back in their hands the Wildcats went 80 yards on just four plays in the next 2:06 and Robertson scored on an 11-yard run to give Villanova a three-possession lead at 27-10. The second play of the drive was a 63-yard catch-and-run by sophomore wide receiver Poppy Livers (Seaside, Calif.) which put the Wildcats in scoring position at the Blue Hens 15-yard line.
By that point it was desperation time for Delaware and each of their next two possessions culminated in interceptions. Akins picked off Hurley at the Blue Hens 45-yard line and registered his first career interception return touchdown. It was only two minutes later when Loper intercepted Hurley at the Delaware 42-yard line and brought it back for his second interception return touchdown of the season.
In addition to the three interceptions the Villanova defense also tallied three sacks, including two by senior defensive end Marlon Johnson (Baltimore, Md.). Meanwhile, sophomore linebacker Joey Harmon (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) led the Wildcats with nine tackles on another strong day for the defense. The Blue Hens ran one more offensive play than Villanova (69-68) but the Wildcats 498 yards of total offense, compared to just 283 for Delaware.
White led the Villanova receivers with five receptions for 44 yards and the one score, while junior Joe Price (Havertown, Pa.) had three catches for 38 yards.
Hamilton had a big night on special teams as he added to his two field goals with four long punts. He averaged 41.8 yards per punt while dropping three of his four punts inside the Blue Hens own 20-yard line.