Complete Game Effort Gives the Wildcats a 44 – 0 Win Over the Rams
VILLANOVA, PA. October 23, 2021 –
The #5 Villanova Wildcats saw contributions from the defense, offense, and special teams in earning a 44 – 0 shutout over the #18 Rhode Island Rams in the Homecoming game at Villanova Stadium. The Wildcats earned their first shutout since October 7, 2017 when the defense posted a clean slate against Maine.
During the game senior running back Jalen Jackson had his first-ever 100-yard game gaining 104 on 12 carries. Graduate kicker Cole Bunce tied his career-high with three made field goals. There was plenty for the alumni to cheer about, even in the intermittent rain.
“It does seem like we kept our intensity throughout the game and all four quarters,” said Villanova Coach Mark Ferrante. ” I do think our guys held their focus, played with enthusiasm, played with passion, and kept our composure. We’re happy with a defensive shutout. We’re happy we moved the ball. And with Cole making the number of field goals he made. It was a complete effort by all three phases of the game.”
The defense set the tone early in the game. On their first play on offense the Rams fumbled a slippery ball that Villanova free safety Ethan Potter recovered at the URI 31-yardline. Villanova scored 6 plays later when Jackson ran it in from the 4-yardline and a 7 – 0 lead.
The defense forced Rhode Island to give up the ball two more times in the first half denying them on fourth down conversions. Taking the ball away with 5:17 on the clock in the first quarter, Villanova scored on a 5-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Daniel Smith to tight end Todd Summers. After stopping the Rams again late in the second quarter leading 21 – 0 the Wildcats capitalized again 22 seconds prior to halftime when Bunce converted a field goal from 42-yards away. The Cats forced the Rams to give up the ball three times and scored 17 points as a result of those turnovers.
“Anytime we can get a turnover on defense early in the game it is a huge momentum swing for us,” Potter said. “We try to execute every drive and hopefully we have things like that happen.”
Rhode Island was limited to 165 yards of offense getting only 58 through the air. Defensive back Christian Benford intercepted his 5th pass of the season. Ironically, the last time the Rams did not score in a game was in October of 2016. The opponent was Villanova in a 35 – 0 game.
“It really means a lot for us,” Potter said about how meaningful the shutout was for the Nova defense. “We talk about giving teams no hope. Putting a zero on the board gives teams no hope.”
Potter had 6 total tackles. Linebacker Forrest Rhyne made 11 tackles and Amir Black got 7 stops.
On offense Villanova gained 511 yards of total offense, running for 297 yards. Jackson experienced his first game passing the century mark.
“It was my first time,” Jackson said. “It was mind blowing. Coach told me to stay down until your number is called. And I made the best of my opportunity.”
He ran for two touchdowns giving him three this season. Fellow rusher DeeWil Barlee gained a season-best 99 yards on 19 carries. TD Ayo-Durojaiye ran the ball in from 8 yards away. Wildcats leading rusher Justin Covington did not play due to injury. Nova had plenty in reserve.
“Our running backs is a position where we feel we have a number of guys,” Ferrante said. “It’s hard when you have as many as you do and keep them all happy. There aren’t enough footballs to go around. For Jalen, DeeWil, and TD at the end to do what they did to pick up the slack in Justin’s absence is huge. I knew they would all be ready and have that next man up mentality.”
Smith completed 14 of 24 passes for 214 yards, two for touchdowns. He has thrown for 14 touchdowns this season. Smith found Rayjoun Pringle for a 23-yard scoring toss. Pringle hauled in 3 passes for 91 yards.
First place Villanova (6 – 1, 4 – 0) prepares for their next game. It is a home contest vs. the Tribe of William and Mary who come into the game with a 3 – 1 CAA record.
Written By: Glenn Papazian