Dec. 18, 2009
This is the first national championship for the Villanova football team and the 18th in the University's athletics history. The Wildcats won two team championships this fall season, with the other title coming in women's cross country.
The Wildcats finish the season with a 14-1 (.933) record. The 14 wins are one of numerous single-season school records set this season. Villanova also set new school marks for rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, total offensive yards and most extra points in a single season.
Tonight marked the third time in the last six years that Montana lost to a team from the Colonial Athletic Association in the national championship game. The Grizzlies lost to James Madison in 2004 and Richmond last season. This year marked the fourth straight season that the CAA had a team in the national championship game. It is the league's fifth national championship, as Villanova joins Massachusetts (1998), Delaware (2003), James Madison (2004) and Richmond (2008).
Villanova established a single-season school record for total offense in tonight's game. On the team's fifth offensive play of the game, an 11-yard run by junior running back Aaron Ball (Los Angeles, Calif.) surpassed the old record of 5,304 yards set back in 1991. The Wildcats finished tonight's game with a total of 493 yards of total offense for a new season-record total of 5,784.
After the Villanova touchdown in the second quarter, redshirt freshman kicker Nick Yako (Cleveland, Ohio) missed the first extra point of his career when his attempt went wide left. Yako entered the game 57-for-57 on point after tries this season. His 57 makes entering the game were an individual and team single-season record. Yako wound up making 2-of-3 PATs tonight and his 60 attempts for the season are also a new single-season mark.
The 46-yard pass completion in the second quarter from junior quarterback Chris Whitney (Warminster, Pa.) to junior running back Angelo Babbaro (Canfield, Ohio) was the second-longest completion of the season for Whitney. The only pass he has thrown longer on the year was a 57-yard completion to senior wide receiver Brandyn Harvey (Spring Valley, Calif.) in a 28-17 win over William & Mary on October 3.
When Villanova fell behind Montana by a 14-3 score in the second quarter, it marked the second largest deficit faced by the Wildcats all season long. The only game in which Villanova trailed by more than 11 points was in its only loss of the year to New Hampshire on October 10. In the first half of that game, the Wildcats fell behind by 15 points (22-7), then rallied to take the lead (24-22) before falling by a four-point margin (28-24).
Villanova overcame four double-digit deficits this season, including 10-point deficits against Temple in the season opener and William & Mary in last week's semifinal game. The Wildcats were 3-1 in games they trailed by 10 or more points this season.
The Wildcats took their first lead of the game at 16-14 with 5:27 left in the third quarter. The team has only given up a lead two times all season long. Villanova lost a four-point lead in the fourth quarter of its loss to New Hampshire and lost an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter to Richmond. In the game against the Spiders, Villanova rallied back to win in the final minute by a 21-20 score.
Junior wide receiver Matt Szczur (Erma, N.J.) tallied a touchdown for the 11th straight game tonight when he rushed for a five-yard score in the second quarter. The streak includes touchdowns via a reception, rush, pass or kickoff return. Szczur has now scored at least one touchdown in all six of his career playoff games.
Szczur registered his second career game with over 100 rushing yards tonight. He carried the ball 14 times for a career-high 159 yards, surpassing the 103 yards he had on the ground against Lehigh this season on September 12. Whitney also surpassed 100 rushing yards and finished with 102 yards on 16 carries. It was the second time this season the Wildcats had two 100-yard rushers.
Whitney finished the season with 203 rushes for 991 yards. His rushing total is not only a single-season record for a Villanova quarterback, but it is more than double the previous mark, which Whitney himself set last season. Prior to Whitney, no quarterback under 25th year head coach Andy Talley had rushed for more than 450 yards in a season.
Villanova took the lead for the first time in the third quarter on a three-yard touchdown reception by senior tight end Chris Farmer (Philadelphia, Pa.). It was the first career touchdown for Farmer, who has six receptions for 54 yards this season. He moved from defensive end to the offensive side of the ball during the 2008 season.