Amidst the heat and dark skies, Villanova Stadium received a decent turnout for its home opener against Fordham. Unfortunately, the crowd wouldn’t hang around for too long.
Villanova drew first blood when John Robertson scored off of a 20-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter. Fordham quickly responded with a field goal. The score remained 7-3 early in the second quarter until play had to be suspended for a lightning strike in the area. Fans and players sought shelter indoors as the storm passed. Finally, after a delay of an hour and nine minutes, play was resumed as a light rain took place. Before the intermission, Villanova looked like they were in great shape. The Wildcats were in control offensively and defensively. Hopefully the delay would not bear similar results to Super Bowl XLVII, where the 49ers came out firing after being smacked around before play was stopped. There was no need to worry because the Wildcats never skipped a beat.
The second quarter was highlighted by Villanova’s 26 unanswered points that included three touchdown passes and one pick six. Robertson connected with Poppy Livers twice and another to Austin Medley. Austin Calitro picked off a screen pass and took it to the house. Kicking was once again an issue for Villanova in the first half of the game. Steve Weyler was slated to take over kicking duties after Chris Gough‘s blunders last week. Weyler missed a field goal attempt in the opening possession and then back-to-back extra points. After the second miss, Gough was sent back out onto the field and he redeemed himself. The senior kicker went on to make all three PATs and then a 42-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. It’s safe to say he got his job back.
The Wildcats took a 33-3 lead into the half and they came back in the third quarter with more of the same old song and dance. Gary Underwood punched it in from one yard out to start off the scoring in the second half. Backup quarterback Chris Polony came in later in the third quarter, leading the drive until Villanova was forced to punt for the first and only time. The Rams later caught their first break of the game with a muffed punt by Poppy Livers. Fordham drove deep into Villanova’s territory until penalty pushed them back out of the red zone. They opted for a field goal, making it 40-6.
The fourth quarter was marked by a field goal by Chris Gough and a touchdown by freshman running back Matt Gudzak. Gudzak picked up five yards on his first carry. On the following play, Gudzak found daylight and took it to the house for the long touchdown run. It was his first career touchdown. After another stalled drive for Fordham, the Wildcats ran out the clock and brought out the victory formation.
The Wildcats were dominant on both sides of the ball. They outgained Fordham a whopping 514 to 219. They held the Rams’ ground attack to just 18 yards on 27 carries. After setting the school record for most rushing yards in one game by a freshman, Chase Edmonds found himself struggling to navigate the Wildcat defense as he was held to -5 rushing yards. Villanova absolutely dismantled the high powered offense that returned a 4,000 yard passer and three 1,000 yard receivers. Michael Nebrich looked a little shell shocked out there, a number of throws were way off the mark. He completed 14 of 28 passes for 182 yards and two interceptions.
John Robertson looked good once again as a dual threat quarterback. Robertson completed 17 of 24 pass attempts for 216 yards and three touchdowns. He added 61 yards and one touchdown on the ground. Gary Underwood finished the day with eight carries for 75 yards and one score. Poppy Livers had another good game with eight receptions for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Don Cherry led the defense with seven total tackles, four for loss and three of Villanova’s six sacks. Cam McCurry‘s night was cut short as he was ejected late in the third quarter after a strange turn of events. The junior safety had one interception. Penalties were an issue for the Wildcats as they racked up 11 of them.
The Wildcats are now 1-1 and will take a bye week before resuming action against James Madison for some Parents’ Weekend festivities on Saturday, September 20, at 12:30 p.m.