Home Opener for Villanova an Explosive Game

Villanova Uses Big Plays to Defeat Colgate 42 – 19 After a Weather Delay

September 9, 2023 –

This is the first home football game for the Villanova Wildcats this season.

Both teams opened on the road. Villanova brought home a win over Lehigh, while Colgate lost heavily at Syracuse. But that was last week and Wildcats head coach Mark Ferrante wants his team to focus on the immediate task at hand. But you can’t plan on bad weather.

A Storm Front Moved Through

Villanova took a 7 – 0 lead at the 8:39 mark of the first quarter on a 25-yard touchdown run by running back Jalen Jackson. The kickoff resulted in a touchback and the Colgate Raiders got the ball at their twenty-five. Then lightening was in the area.

At 6:45 PM the game was suspended due to the impending storm and the presence of lightening. The teams were sent to their locker room, and the fans to shelter. Eventually, the lightening went away, but the rain stayed around. Play resumed at 8:12 PM with 8:36 on the clock. A delay of 1 hour and 18 minutes.

“The conditions are what they are,” Villanova quarterback Connor Watkins said. “Everybody’s on the same playing field. If we came out and it’s a monsoon I trust our our offensive line and our running backs to get downhill and beat them at the point of attack.”

The Ball Got Up and Down the Field

The teams came out, and the game turned into an explosive, big play game. And Villanova had most, but not all of those types of plays.

“I loved the way our guys flew around to the ball and I loved the big, explosive plays on offense,” said Ferrante.

Colgate got their first points of the season on the ensuing drive highlighted by a 54-yard completion Michael Brescia to Treyvhon Saunders getting the ball to the Villanova 20 yard line. The Raiders got as far as the 4, but settled for 21-yard field goal by Jacob Jaworski with 5:10 to play in the first quarter.

Then it was the Wildcats turn who answered right away. Late in the first quarter quarterback Connor Watkins found wide receiver Rayjoun Pringle for a 51-yard reception to the Colgate 10 yard line. Watkins scored on a one-yard run to give his team a 14 – 3 lead after one quarter.

In the second quarter it was the Raiders who got a 23-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Treyvhon Saunders from quarterback Michael Brescia.

Nova responded with a 68-yard pass from Watkins to wide receiver Jaylan Sanchez who fumbled at the Raiders 8 yard line, but Pringle recovered at the 1 to set up another Watkins touchdown run.

The Wildcats broke the game open late in the second quarter with a one-play, 67-yard scoring toss from Watkins to Pringle for a 28 – 10 halftime lead.

“We repped that all week,” Watkins said about that play. “We saw how they played that set, and we had a feeling we knew what they were going to give us. We talked about just be patient, trust it. That gave us the look we wanted and it all worked out.”

In the second half the trend continued as Sanchez and Watkins connected on a 60-yard pass to the Colgate 9 yard line. Later Watkins found tight end Antonio Johnson for a one-yard touchdown reception and a 35 – 10 lead.

The game would slow down a bit, and the defense did their part to contribute to the victory. The Raiders were held to two consecutive three-and-outs and a field goal after getting to within 5 yards of the Wildcats endzone.

“We have a bend but don’t break mentality,” Hartzell said. “No matter what circumstances we’re in, no matter where we are put on the field, it’s got to have a hard nose. Hold them to three, no touchdown.”

Another set of big plays returned to end the scoring. Brescia hitting receiver Brady Hutchison for 40-yards to set up a Colgate touchdown and Watkins finding Pringle for 42 yards. That drive culminated with a 28-yard touchdown run by Villanova back DeeWill Barlee .

What the Numbers Say

Watkins had his first 300-yard passing game at 310 by completing just 8 of 11 attempts. The longest completion was for 75-yards. He had 4 touchdowns; 2 rushing and 2 passing.

“They gave us opportunities to let our guys on the outside who were fast and athletic to win man to man coverage,” Watkins said about why he was able to have the game that he did.

Pringle caught 3 passes for 168-yards, 3 shy of his career-high. Sanchez did set a career-mark of 128 receiving yards on 2 catches. He did total 95 yards after catch, but did not score a touchdown. Villanova ran for 152 yards with Jalen Jackson leading the way with 57. Barlee totaled 54 yards on the ground.

For Colgate Brescia threw for 225 yards, 54 his longest, one for a score and one rushing. Saunders caught 6 passes for 132 yards. The Raiders netted just 33 yards running.

Up Next

Villanova goes to UCF for a contest against and FBS squad.

“Bottom line is we want to go 1 – 0 each week and we accomplished that goal, that’s the most important goal,” Ferrante said. “Winning games is hard, and our guys did a great job.”


Written By: Glenn Papazian

Contact: Glenn@PhillyCollegeSports.com

Connor Watkins – Photo Courtesy of Villanova Athletics Communications

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