COMPLETE COVERAGE OF SATURDAY'S FOOTBALL GAME AGAINST RICHMOND
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VILLANOVA, Pa. - A pair of perennial contenders in CAA Football will clash on Saturday afternoon when No. 20 Villanova (4-4, 2-3) hosts Richmond (4-4, 2-3) for a 1 p.m. kickoff at Villanova Stadium. The game is being presented by Bryn Mawr Hospital and it will be Alumni Day, with several football alumni to be recognized throughout the game.
Fox College Sports is producing Saturday's contest and the game can be seen on FCS Atlantic, Dish Channel 453 and DirecTV channel 608. It is also available on the Fox Sports GO mobile app. The radio broadcast of the game with Ryan Fannon and Kevin Reilly calling all the action can be heard on 610 Sports WTEL-AM and online at villanova.com with a Nova Nation All-Access package. One of the pregame highlights on Saturday is the Wildcat Walk which will take place at 10:30 a.m. The band, cheerleaders, dance team and twirlers will lead the football team through the A-2 parking lot on the way to their locker room in the Andrew J. Talley Athletic Center.
This is the second straight week that Villanova will play at home, and the matchup between the Wildcats and the Spiders pits two teams that are fighting to remain in playoff contention in the CAA standings. Both teams are coming off losses in their Homecoming games last week, with Villanova falling to now-No. 7 Elon (19-14) and Richmond being edged by No. 14 Stony Brook (27-24).
Freshman quarterback Kyle McCloskey (Fort Washington, Pa.) made his first collegiate start last week and played turnover free football, passing for 137 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for a team-high 65 yards. Senior wide receiver Taurus Phillips (Beacon, N.Y.) and junior running back Aaron Forbes (Newburgh, N.Y.) each caught touchdown passes in the game to account for the Wildcats scoring.
"He did a nice job," Villanova head coach Mark Ferrante said of McCloskey's performance in his first start. "He's going to give you everything he has. He is a competitor, he's a winner and he's tough. We are real pleased with him and look forward to getting him more work, more reps and more opportunities to be able to know where to go with the ball. I thought he did a good job in his first start. As a staff we have no problems with how he went in there and competed."
The story for Villanova this season has been the play of its defense, which ranks second in FCS in rushing defense and seventh in scoring defense. Through their first eight games of the season, the Wildcats have given up just 57.8 rushing yards per game and an average of 16.0 points per contest. Villanova also owns a plus-two turnover margin and has scored 10 touchdowns this season that came as a direct result of the 17 turnovers it has forced.
A fresh challenge awaits the Wildcats this week, as the Spiders come into the game with the leading passing offense among all FCS teams. Redshirt senior quarterback Kyle Lauletta has thrown for 2,953 yards with 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions on the season, while three different receivers have each surpassed 600 yards while combining for 18 touchdown receptions between them. Richmond averages 34.8 points and 474.9 yards of total offense per game.
"We are facing another really good passer this week who leads the conference in passing individually as well as the team collectively," Ferrante said. "We are going to have to find a way to get some extra pressure on him and make him more uncomfortable than we were able to do this past weekend [versus Elon]. Our game plan is always to try and have a balanced attack. We will come up with the best game plan we can to try and exploit some of their weaknesses, but we're always trying to worry more about how we are executing our own game plan and making sure we hold on to the football."
Senior linebacker Ed Shockley (Millville, N.J.) and junior Jeff Steeb (Sweetwater, N.J.) lead the way for the Villanova defense. Shockley leads the team with 67 total tackles and seven tackles for loss, while Steeb has 64 total stops and registered his second game of the season with double figures in tackles against Elon last week. Senior cornerback Trey Johnson (Lutz, Fla.) leads CAA Football and ranks seventh in FCS in passes defended, with two interceptions on the year and a team-high 11 pass breakups. He had an interception which he returned for 32 yards in last week's contest.
Following their second straight home game, the Wildcats will go back on the road next weekend when they travel to Rhode Island for a 12 p.m. contest.