Smash mouth football was the name of the game for the Wildcats this afternoon. They came out and smacked around a weak Rams team from kickoff to the closing minutes.
The game started strong for the ‘Cats, as with 5:53 to go in the first, quarterback Zach Bednarczyk would run it in from four yards out to give Villanova a 7-0 lead.
This is a lead they would never relinquish, going on to win 24-3.
Bednarczyk finished the afternoon with a fantastic performance, as he contributed 83 yards rushing and 11 carries and the touchdown. He also managed the game well as a passer, passing for 11 completions on 18 attempts, for 116 yards and a lone touchdown to star wideout Kevin Gulyas early in the fourth.
The next Wildcat score would come in the second half, with 11:09 left in the third quarter, with a brilliant run by sophomore runningback Matt Gudzak. Gudzak, who had been used sparingly up to this point in the season, had a break-out performance this afternoon, rushing for 123 yards on 10 carries, and the touchdown. He was the star of a behemoth Villanova ground game that finished with 304 yards on 44 net carries (with the two touchdowns coming from Gudzak and Bednarczyk). The passing game took the back seat to the ground game, as the mammoth ground game allowed the ‘Cats to control the tempo of the entire game. It was a suffocating attack that never gave Rhode Island defense the chance to recuperate. All day, the ‘Cats ran at them until they were blue in the face. It was the type of tempo that Villanova had to set in order to walk away with the win.
Despite the offensive beatdown that the ‘Cats offense dished out this afternoon, the real star of the show was the ‘Nova defense. The defense has been gargantuan in the past few games, as it has not given up a touchdown in three of the last four games. This game against the Rams was also their fifth game this season where they allowed less than 300 total yards to an opposing team. The defense has taken up the weight left by the loss of John Robertson early this season. They have really come out big in the team’s last few outings.
Today was no different, despite the ‘Cats dominant offensive outing.
The first, and most important task of the day, was to contain star Rhode Island running back Harold Cooper. He was definitely held, as he only rushed for 62 yards and 12 carries with no touchdowns. Cooper, usually known for his explosiveness and defense defying speed and agility, simply had nowhere to go against the staunch ‘Nova defense.
Cooper, despite the fact that he was contained, was the only stand-out player for the Rhode Island offense. No receiver from the offense gained more than 58 yards receiving, a testament to the shut-down performance by the Wildcat secondary. This was also indicative of the fact that Villanova simply shut down the Rhode Island quarterbacks. Ram quarterbacks James Caparell and Wesley McKoy combined for four interceptions and merely 121 yards passing. McKoy, who was supposed to be the solution at quarterback for the Rams, was replaced later in the game. The Rams quarterback carousel will continue to revolve, thanks in part to the terrific ‘Nova performance.
Defensively, Villanova was lead by safety Cameron McCurry, who once again had an awesome performance. McCurry finished the day with six total tackles, one pass break up, one of the defense’s four interceptions, and a sack.
Linebacker Austin Calitro also had a great outing, with nine total tackles and a pass break-up. He and his fellow linebacker, Don Cherry, continue to fly to the ball and suffocate opposing ball carriers.
The Wildcats are now 5-4. They will host their homecoming game against Richmond next week. Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m.