While many students headed home for Fall Break, Villanova football continued to work hard in preparation for their game today against Rhode Island. In the wet, overcast conditions, Villanova put up another dominant performance at home. The Rams came hobbling in with a record of 0-5 and they leave once again without a win.
The Wildcats had no problem getting their offense going, scoring on a quick opening drive that lasted a minute and a half into the game. Villanova only needed four plays to score, capping off the drive with a John Robertson pass to Mike Burke for a 22-yard touchdown. Robertson would have a great game at quarterback today, finishing with more touchdown passes than incompletions. On the other side of the ball, it didn’t take Villanova long to establish their defensive front. Shortly after scoring the first touchdown, they held Rhode Island to a three-and-out. During the punt, a bad snap by Rhode Island resulted in a safety. Villanova was quickly up 9-0, but they didn’t stop there.
In the ensuing drive, Robertson found Poppy Livers for a long touchdown. Both offenses would stall for a period of time until Villanova began to find the end zone again in the second quarter. Kevin Monangai took the handoff and found daylight, going 31 yards for the score to build on Villanova’s lead. Much later in the second quarter, Robertson threw another pair of touchdowns in the closing minutes of the half. The first touchdown pass went to Gary Underwood. He then connected with Livers for the final touchdown of the first half. The Wildcats would take a 37-0 lead into the intermission.
Things started to quiet down in the third quarter. Coach Andy Talley began to call off the dogs; Robertson sat out for the rest of the game and in came backup Chris Polony. Neither team produced a scoring drive in the third quarter, but that was all about to change.
Polony got things going early in the fourth quarter, running one in for a touchdown. It would be Villanova’s final touchdown of the game. On the other hand, Rhode Island would not go away silently. The Rams arrived to the party late. Jordan Sebastian punched it in from one yard out for the Rams’ first score, killing all hopes for a shutout. Then backup quarterback James Caparell connected with Robbie Jackson for a long 58-yard Rhode Island touchdown reception. At this point in the game, third string quarterback Cody Pittman was in the game for Villanova. Soon after the Rams scored their last touchdown, they stripped Pittman of the ball and took over. Caparell would find Jackson again, this time for a 23-yard touchdown pass. With about five and a half minutes remaining the game, Villanova’s lead was cut to 44-21.
A forced fumble by Cameron McCurry sealed the deal for Rhode Island and the Wildcats was able to kill the rest of the time by kneeling.
Villanova’s balanced offense was just too much for Rhode Island to handle. They put up 473 total yards (198 rushing and 275 passing yards) on the feeble Rams’ defense. Robertson finished the game completing 13-of-16 pass attempts for 189 yards and four touchdowns. He also added another 65 yards off of eight carries. Freshman Matt Gudzak contributed 52 yards off of 13 carries. Kevin Monangai only got the ball six times, rushing for 37 yards and a touchdown. Poppy Livers got his 100th career reception today. He finished with 113 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns.
For Rhode Island, the absence of Lyle McCombs was felt in the run game. Harold Cooper and Jordan Sebastian combined for a meager 46 yards and a touchdown off of 19 carries. Backup James Caparell did a good job of filling in for Mack Lowrie, who had to leave the game due to injury. Caparell completed 22-of-33 pass attempts for 249 yards and a pair of touchdowns and no interceptions. Wide receiver Robbie Jackson chipped in seven receptions for 128 yards and two touchdowns.
Villanova improves to 5-1 and remain undefeated against FCS opponents. The Wildcats will hit the road next week, where they will face off against a good William & Mary team on Saturday, October 18, at 3:30 p.m.