With 1:21 left in the fourth quarter, redshirt freshman kicker Chase Vinatieri kicked a 40-yard field goal to give South Dakota State the 10-7 victory over Villanova.
When the football left the foot of the nephew of Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, the ball looked like it was going to hit the right field goal post and miss the net. Instead, like a pinball, the football hit the right field goal post and bounced left, right through the uprights and into the safety net.
South Dakota State was averaging almost 37 points a game, led by their dynamic quarterback Taryn Christion. Knowing that the Jackrabbit offense was a powerful balanced attack–instead of choosing–the Wildcats decided to stick to their same game plan since the beginning of the season: stop the run. South Dakota State was limited to a total of 197 yards, 124 of them in the first half. Of their 197 total yards, the Wildcats only allowed seven rushing yards, forcing the Jackrabbits to move the ball in the air.
Junior linebacker Ed Shockley led the Wildcats with 10 tackles, the third time this season he had double digit tackles. Freshman defensive lineman Jeff Wiley and Jafonta Johnson each recorded a sack for Villanova as well.
On the offensive side of the ball, Villanova had the advantage in time of possession, total yards (321), and first downs. What hurt the Wildcats was converting on fourt down, which hindered them to put more points on the board.
On Villanova’s first offensive possession in the first quarter, they had an 11 play, 66 yard drive that resulted in zero points because they were not able to convert on fourth-and-2 at the Jackrabbit 22 yard line. Villanova finished the day converting only one of four conversion attempts on fourth down.
Villanova’s Zach Bednarczyk finished the day with 220 passing yards and a touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Alex Padovani with two seconds left in the first half. The Wildcats had 101 yards on the ground, led by junior running back Matt Gudzak who had 66 yards. Ryan Bell led all the Wildcat receivers with four catches for 55 yards.
After Vinatieri’s field goal in the fourth quarter, Villanova had one last possession on offense with 1:21 left on the clock and a timeout in Andy Talley’s back pocket. After Bednarczyk was sacked on first down, he threw three incomplete passes to turn the ball over to South Dakota State, who will move on to Fargo, N.D. to play against the five-time defending national champion North Dakota State next week.
This game also marked the end of the coaching career of head coach Andy Talley. In his 37 years of coaching, he ends his career with 258 victories, the most among any active FBS or FCS head coach. He leaves Villanova with 25 winning seasons, three Walter Payton Award Winners (Brian Finneran, Brian Westbrook, and John Robertson), 12 playoff appearances, 230 victories, and a national championship in his 32 years at Villanova.