Villanova Has Two 100-Yard Runners in 24 – 10 Win Over Hampton
October 29, 2022 –
At times it looked like a struggle for Villanova. Mistakes were made, the offense got sluggish, but stout defense and a grinding running game became the ingredients in a 24 – 10 win over the Hampton Pirates at Villanova Stadium. It is the second straight win for Nova as they try to climb in the CAA standings.
The Ground Game
The running game is they key weapon for Nova. Quarterback Connor Watkins ran for a career-high 130 yards. He had touchdown runs of 75 and 30 yards. Running back TD Ayo-Durojaiye is becoming the lead back in terms of carries and yards filling in for Jalen Jackson and DeeWill Barlee who have injuries. He rushed for 112 yards on a season-most 25 carries.
“It didn’t feel like 100-yards, but I’m just doing my job,” said Ayo-Durojaiye. “They ask me to take a little more carries, and try to help this offense, and try to help us win games. We’re in a big stretch right now.”
Scoring on the Ground
Villanova got a great start. On the second offensive play Watkins faked a handoff then sped up the right side for the 75-yard scoring run. It is the longest run by a Villanova quarterback in program history. The team could add only a field goal in the first half and a 10- 7 lead at intermission.
“We had a lot of yards in the first half and not enough points to equal the yards that we gained,” said Villanova Coach Mark Ferrante. “I challenged the guys at halftime to come out of the locker room. We got three-and-out on defense and a nice long drive and took a touchdown in the opening drive in the third quarter.”
That drive featured Ayo-Durojaiye running six consecutive times. Barlee carried twice more. From the Hampton 11-yard line Watkins found a wide open Jaaron Hayek for a touchdown and a 17 – 3 lead. The defense began to look for Ayo-Durojaiye and Barlee as the points of attack, and that opened up Hayek.
“They started keying on the run,” Ayo-Durojaiye noted. “When I see that I try to run a little harder. Do what I can to help this team win.”
In the fourth quarter Watkins replicated the play in the first quarter and ran it in from 30-yards away. Nova lead 24 – 10.
The Defense Held Hampton in Check
The Wildcats gave up only 163 yards of total offense. The Pirates scored a third quarter touchdown on a 23-yard pass from quarterback Malcolm Mays to wide receiver Trent Cloud cutting the deficit to 17 – 10 on a 29-yard drive.
The defenders came up with a big play before halftime to spark the team. Hampton wanting a score prior to halftime got turned away when Villanova linebacker Danny Abraham intercepted his second pass of the season blunting the drive.
“Being able to get that pick and not allowing them to score gave us some momentum going into the second half,” Villanova linebacker Shane Hartzell said.
Mistakes Cost Nova Opportunities for Points
The Wildcats could have taken command earlier. But mistakes were costly. Watkins threw an interception in the endzone. Penalties hurt taking away two long pass plays and a scoring chance in the red zone. Overall, the Cats were penalized 6 times for 60 yards.
Villanova (5 – 3, 3 – 2) goes for three in a row next week at Towson. The need is to be more consistent over the course of a game.
“I still think we can put more out there in a four quarter game,” Ferrante said.
Written By: Glenn Papazian