In a game that featured two teams known for their offensive prowess, a defensive showdown was definitely unexpected.
Fans were treated to a nice surprise, as both defenses set the tone for a gritty, hard-nosed game.
Villanova was off to a quick start. After forcing a Fordham three-and-out in the opening drive of the game, the Wildcats followed it up with a touchdown.
They methodically drove down the field, until John Robertson capped off the drive with a touchdown pass to Kevin Gulyas for the first score of the game.
After both teams traded some unsuccessful drives, the Wildcats would find the end zone again in the second quarter.
A long 33-yard reception by Aaron Wells on second-and-21 brought Villanova into the red zone. A couple of plays later, Robertson ran it up the gut for another Villanova touchdown.
Robertson would finish with 161 passing yards and one touchdown, completing 12 of 18 pass attempts. He also added 49 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown.
Later in the second quarter, Fordham would find its footing. After punting the ball away and pinning Villanova to the five-yard line, the Rams’ defense made its presence felt.
Caleb Ham swooped in on back-to-back plays to give two tackles for loss to excite the Fordham faithful. On third down, the defense was able to pressure Robertson into throwing an incompletion.
The Wildcats punted it away, while the Rams felt the momentum shifting their way. They started the drive with a trick play, wide receiver Corey Caddle completed a 26-yard pass. Then after a few quarterback keepers, Kevin Anderson connected with Caddle for a Fordham touchdown.
With just under four minutes to go in the second quarter, Villanova had a chance to put some points on the board before the half.
At first the drive was met with strong Fordham opposition. The inspired defense pushed the Villanova offense onto its heels. After a sack on second down, the Wildcats were up against a third-and-long situation.
On third down, Robertson found Aaron Wells for a 38-yard gain to push into Fordham territory. The Wildcats continued to move the ball, until it stalled in the red zone.
Andy Talley sent out kicker Steve Weyler to attempt a 24-yard field goal that would give Villanova a ten point advantage going into the break.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they have yet to remedy their kicking problem. Weyler’s chip shot attempt went wide left, prompting loud cheers from the crowd.
Fordham would kneel the ball, with Villanova holding onto the 14-7 lead going into the break.
The second half was very different. Both teams struggled to move the ball and when it looked like they were going to muster the momentum necessary to result in a scoring drive, they would eventually stall in opposing territories.
The Wildcats would go on to hold a 408-182 advantage in total yards over the Rams, but it never felt like it.
Neither team could break the stalemate.
Steve Weyler attempted another field goal, but this time from 26 yards out. He hesitated, but it appeared that a defender may have gotten a piece of his kick. The ball shot across like a line drive, but did not have the necessary height to make it.
Meanwhile, Fordham kicker Makay Redd tried to make a field goal of his own. Redd attempted a long 49-yard attempt. Although he had the distance, he did not have the accuracy. The ball sailed wide of the post.
As the clock winded down, the missed opportunities on offense weighed more and more on each team’s defense. The Rams felt even greater pressure as they were down by one touchdown.
Neither team would score in the second half.
The Wildcats sealed the deal as they converted a couple of first downs in the closing minutes of the game.
Austin Calitro and Don Cherry led a strong defensive effort for the Wildcats. Calitro had a game high ten tackles and four tackles for loss. Cherry was right behind him with nine tackles and two tackles for loss. They had one sack each. As for the other side of the ball, Javon White offered one of the best performances in a game that did not feature much offense. White had 23 carries for 143 yards.
For Fordham, linebacker Niko Thorpe spearheaded the defense. The sophomore linebacker had three sacks. Quarterback Kevin Anderson went 9-for-22 with 85 yards and a touchdown. Star running back Chase Edmonds was kept in check, rushing for 74 yards off of 16 carries.
The Wildcats will resume action next Saturday, September 19th. Kickoff is at 12 p.m.