VILLANOVA, PA. 9/17/2016 – The #21 Villanova Wildcats showed this season that they can run the ball on offense. This game the passing offense took front and center as quarterback Zach Bednarczyk who completed 20 of 26 passes for 230 yards and 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. It was a sense of offensive balance that was a key factor as Villanova earned a 40 – 21 league opening win over Towson.
“Last week we knew we had a good game, but we knew we couldn’t run for 300 – 400 yards, so to be a good team you need a balanced attack,” said Villanova quarterback Zach Bednarczyk. “The only way to be a great team is to have a balanced offense.”
“Our running game continues to hold us up, but we got good balance between the run and the pass which is what you are always looking to do,” said Villanova Coach Andy Talley. “We did the things you need to do to win the game against a tough CAA team.”
The Wildcats ran for 152 yards with senior running back Javon White leading the way with 80 yards and crossed the goal line twice.
Also emerging in the game junior wide receiver Taurus Phillips who caught a career-high 7 passes for 110 yards and 2 touchdowns. It was the first two scoring receptions of his career. The first scoring catch came in the first quarter with 6:53 on the clock as he hauled in a 16 yard pass which tied the score a 7. His second came at 9:55 of the second quarter from 21 yards away that put Villanova ahead 20 – 7.
“It got my confidence up,” Phillips said about his early catches. “But Zach threw a catchable ball.”
Bednarczyk found eight different offensive players for receptions.
Leading 26 – 14 at halftime the Wildcats turned the second half over to the defense.
Towson was driving for a proximity score in the fourth quarter. Tigers quarterback Ellis Knudson lifted a pass into the endzone from the Villanova 20 that Wildcats junior defensive back Trey Johnson picked off ending the threat. It was his first career interception. Later in the quarter the Tigers marched deep into Wildcats territory, but were turned away on downs at the Villanova 29 yard-line. The Cats turned that into a scoring drive all on the ground capped by a 9-yard touchdown run White to take a 33 – 14 lead.
The Cats would thrive on defense as the game progressed.
“We could tell that Towson was kind of down, and we didn’t want to take our foot off the pedal,” said defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon.
Towson drove again that ended with an interception by junior defensive back Rob Rolle who returned it 100-yards for a score to set a school record for the longest interception return, and provide the final margin of victory. The previous mark was 96-yards. It was the second touchdown of the season for Rolle, who had a team-high 9 tackles.
“He has twelve points this season,” Kpassagnon said of Rolle. “That’s awesome for him. He showed us how good he can be on defense.”
Sophomore linebacker Jeff Steeb and senior Austin Calitro contributed 8 tackles.
Villanova improved to 2 – 1 for the season and is 1 – 0 in CAA play. Next up for Nova is a non-league game at Lafayette.
Written By Glenn Papazian