After a tough loss on senior day, the Wildcats bounced back on Saturday with a win against arch-rival Delaware, beating the Blue Hens 41-10 in the regular season-ending Battle of the Blue.
The win was much-needed in order to give Villanova any shot of making the FCS playoffs. The team is hoping to send off head coach Andy Talley with a spot in the playoffs, and doing so would mark the 12th appearance for Talley. The win also marks Talley’s 257th coaching victory. A loss would have been devastating for the Wildcats’ playoff chances, as a negative result would have dropped them to 7-4. Instead, they’re enjoying an 8-3 record and second place standing in the CAA.
The offense was red-hot and was able to heat up right on its first possession of the game. Early in this drive, the Blue Hen defense was able to slow down the loaded Villanova rushing offense. However, the same couldn’t be said when it came to the Wildcats’ aerial attack. Quarterback Zach Bednarczyk was able to find open receivers downfield, hitting sophomore Jarrett McClenton, freshman Changa Hodge, and a touchdown pass to tight end Ryan Bell. This touchdown drive capped off a seven minute, 14 play, 97 yard drive which was the longest scoring drive of the season.
After a turnover on downs by the Blue Hens, the Wildcats were able to score another touchdown as Bednarczyk hit Hodge for a 34 yard score. On this play, Hodge bobbled the ball at first, but was able to secure it in the endzone. Bednarczyk finished the day with 195 yards and four touchdowns in the air, adding another 78 yards on the ground. After Bednarczyk was able to tear up the Blue Hen secondary, it allowed the three-headed monster of running backs to establish the ground game once again. Aaron Forbes, Matt Gudzak, and Javon White combined for 189 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday’s victory over the Blue Hens.
Gudzak played exceptionally well, as he alone rushed for 121 yards and a touchdown, and hauled in a 54-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter. The offensive attack was balanced today, and served well on third down conversions. Villanova went 9-for-11 on third down, which allowed them to extend drives and score 41 points. The Wildcats would total for 277 yards on the ground and 195 through the air.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Wildcat defense was solid. The goal of the Villanova defense is to stop the run-oriented Delaware offense. The Wildcats limited the strength of the Delaware offense to just 112 yards on the ground.
With the ground game limited, Delaware was forced to go send the ball through the air. Other than a touchdown pass by Philadelphia native Joe Walker in the second quarter, the Villanova secondary was able to limit the Delaware receivers to just eight catches for 115 yards. Walker finished the day completing 7-of-14 passes for 111 yards. He was picked off once by Rasaan Stewart.
With the regular season over, the Wildcats will hope for a bid to the FCS playoffs. Their 8-3 record and second place finish in the CAA–which is often considered the SEC of the FCS, will look good for them. However, nothing is guaranteed when things are up to the selection committee. Regardless, if Villanova even wanted to be anywhere near the playoff conversation, it needed to win. The Wildcats did just that, now they await their fate for Selection Sunday.
The playoff field will be revealed on Sunday at 11 a.m.