Senior wide receiver Brandyn Harvey is used to pressure. His knack for making acrobatic catches is one thing, but the fact that he does so with the game on the line is what makes him Villanova’s major threat late in the game.
“We try to get the ball to Brandyn as much as we can,” Head Coach Andy Talley said. “Down there, he is the only guy we really want to throw to.”
After a lackluster first half against the then No. 1 ranked Richmond Spiders, Harvey made his presence known in a big way. Failing to catch a pass in the opening 30 minutes, the 6-foot-4-inch wideout finished with six catches for 69 yards, including the one no ‘Nova fan will forget.
With only 59 seconds left in the game and the Wildcats behind 20-14, junior quarterback Chris Whitney floated a pass down the middle on fourth-and-11 that looked to be overthrown. Then, Harvey extended his left arm and snatched the football out of the air between two defenders and carried it into the end zone for the score.
Villanova took the lead and upset Richmond for the second year in a row.
“There was really nobody else in the stadium that could catch the ball other than Brandyn,” Talley said.
Harvey’s flair for the dramatic on Saturday is nothing new. The script was identical to the one Villanova used in its opener against Temple. In that game, Harvey opened with a miserable first half that included several dropped passes.
But with everything on the line and the win in sight, the Wildcats marched down the field. Whitney connected with Harvey on more than one occasion, including a sideline grab that would have resulted in a loss if Harvey didnt reel it in.
As Villanova continues its march toward the postseason, are all these game-changing plays boosting this receiver’s ego? If they are, he won’t say.
“The best thing was that we won the game,” Harvey said. “That was the most important thing. We came here to win the game, and I’m glad we were able to do that.”
In any case, Harvey has played one of the biggest roles in Villanova’s one-loss season thus far. Without his heroics against both Temple and Richmond, the Wildcats would be sitting with three losses and their postseason hopes in question. While junior wide receiver Matt Szczur and Whitney continue to be the most consistent offensive producers, Harvey is why this team is where it is today.
Talley is well aware of Harvey’s contributions. With the game on the line, he wants the ball in his receiver’s hands. In the game against Richmond, fans found out why.
“What a catch,” Talley said. “That’s the play of the year right there.”