First, introductions are in order. My name is Patrick Ciapciak and I’m a senior at Villanova who has been dedicated to Villanova sports since the day I walked onto this hallowed campus. I’ll be writing a fan’s perspective on every major Villanova game, so get excited. In short, I’ll be writing what every ‘Nova fan is thinking, but no one is saying.
Before anything else can be addressed, we need to acknowledge what a game that was. I know we always say anything can happen in rivalry games, but I honestly did not expect such a close game this year. Villanova was looking like a top FCS team in its first two games, while was Delaware looking like a team that could lose to Jacksonville University in its first two games (oh wait that actually happened). But on this field, on this day, anything could happen.
I was just as excited by the game on the field as I was at seeing Villanova Stadium in all its glory. I can faithfully testify that I have never seen that stadium so packed. Of course big crowds are always expected for an opening game on Parents Weekend, but no game has come close to this. I swear it was standing room only by the second quarter. That in itself is a victory for this program, and congratulations are in order for Nova Nation. Let’s see if we can keep this momentum going (I’m looking at you, freshmen).
Now, for the game. John Robertson immediately reminded everyone who the best player in FCS is with a long toss to Kevin Gulyas for 70 yards on the first play of the game. Robertson & Co. got the job done five plays later for an early 7-0 lead. What followed was a long string of timeouts and costly Villanova penalties until Delaware took advantage of a drive starting at our 40 for a touchdown to tie it up. The Mainliners quickly responded with a touchdown themselves, going up 14-7 before a boring second quarter that yielded a mere field goal by the only team with a reliable kicker (hint: not Villanova) as time expired into halftime.
Delaware running back Thomas Jefferson led the Blue Hens down the field in the late third quarter that culminated in a touchdown with successful two-point conversion to take a 21-14 lead early in the fourth. The fact that a guy named Thomas Jefferson plays for Delaware is almost as historically fun as knowing that a guy named Edgar Allen Poe plays for Army football 185 years after The Raven himself attended West Point (I get excited by these things). The very next drive, Robertson The Great drove the Wildcats all the way down field, eating up the clock in classic Villanova fashion. Everything was going hunky-dory until Robertson went down at the six yard line and didn’t get back up. Robertson getting injured had never crossed my mind. He is Villanova football, and Villanova football is him. I was ready to give up on the game, but then a man named Zach Bednarczyk stepped on the field. Sometimes men are called to greatness, and the world needs a hero. After one incomplete pass, Bednarczyk connected with Gulyas on fourth down to become that hero Nova Nation needed. The excitement was only calmed by a missed PAT, which left the Wildcats still behind 21-20 with mere minutes left. Now it was destiny to win this game, as the defense held Delaware to a quick three-and-out, followed by an offensive drive down field as long and tough as Bednarczyk’s ridiculously Polish last name. All that was left to do was hold the Hens off the board with two minutes left, a success capped off by a Villanova interception to end the game.
In the end, Villanova completed a four year sweep on its rival Delaware. That means I have gone my entire Villanova career without witnessing a loss to our cross-border rivals. Looking at wins alone, this rivalry is as much of a rivalry as a lawn mower has with grass. But I guess that’s what happens when you’re called the Fighting Blue Hens, and Joe Flacco isn’t walking through those doors. But that battle we witnessed just revived a rivalry dating back to 1895, one of the oldest in college football and vital to both programs.
Questions still remain: Will Andy Talley ever trust our kicking game? Did Robertson just become the Drew Bledsoe to Bednarczyk’s Tom Brady? Will a student section ever organize at Villanova Stadium? We may not have the answers to these today, but what we do know is that this football team has made a statement about the 2015 season. The Wildcats are yet again the team that everyone wants to beat, and I’d have it no other way.