No. 2 ‘Nova runs past Northeastern to a 4-0 start



Joe DeNicholas

Even before the kickoff, the many fans in attendance at Villanova Stadium could see what was about to unfold in front of them. As the teams came marching out of their respective locker rooms and onto the field, one could not help but to notice the disparity in size and number of players between the Wildcats and the visiting Northeastern Huskies.

Fifty-two seconds into the game, those notions were confirmed. Junior running back Aaron Ball took the ball 31 yards into the endzone on a three-play drive, sending an early message to the Huskies that it was not going to be a pretty afternoon for them.

When the officials blew the final whistle, the Wildcats had taken the game decisively, 56-7. The offensive outburst produced the most points the ‘Cats have scored in a game since putting up 63 against William & Mary on Oct. 6, 2007.

“I thought we made a little bit of a statement that we have some weapons, and we have a good defense,” Head Coach Andy Talley said after the game, “If we come to the dance and play hard, we have a chance to be a very good football team.”

The Wildcats connected on their first three possessions, putting a quick 21-0 first-quarter stranglehold on Northeastern. The Wildcat rush offense was machine-like, charging up the field seemingly unstoppable, picking up yardage on almost every play.

The ‘Cats finished with 410 yards rushing on 53 carries, which is even more impressive when compared to Northeastern’s 97 yards on 34 carries. The Wildcats had 552 yards total offense, silencing any doubts in ‘Nova’s offensive capabilities. Six different Wildcats scored touchdowns in the rout over the Huskies.

“I think our momentum has carried us very nicely to where we are right now,” Talley said. “I think we look like a pretty good football team – not a lot of penalties and dumb mistakes.  Basically, we played a very crisp game today,” Talley said.

Junior quarterback Chris Whitney carried for 80 yards and a touchdown. Perhaps the most entertaining play of the afternoon came when Whitney rushed 45 yards for a touchdown that caught the Huskies napping. After being wrapped up by a Northeastern player, Whitney rolled through the hit without letting his knees touch the ground. The ‘Nova quarterback picked himself up and continued down the field, untouched by the Huskies, since everyone assumed the play was dead, even the fans. The score was Whitney’s final play of the game as senior Antwon Young was handed the reins for most of the second half.

Villanova rushed for six touchdowns, with sophomore Lawrence Doss picking up the first two of his career. Ball led Villanova with 109 yards on seven carries and a touchdown, all of which came in the first half. Junior Angelo Babbaro, senior Tony Canci and Young also contributed scores for Villanova.

“When you dominate with the offensive line, you can really run and pass, and those were the things we were able to do today,” Talley said.

Talley’s offense relied largely on the running game, only drawing up 17 throwing attempts for the game. Senior Brandyn Harvey paced the Wildcats with seven receptions for 102 yards. Villanova had 142 total receiving yards.

The Wildcats forced three interceptions, with junior Jacob Wade and freshman Eric Loper getting their first career picks. Sophomore James Pitts made the other interception. Redshirt freshman Nick Yako was eight for eight on extra points.

The win marked Villanova’s final tune-up before playing four top-10 ranked Football Championship Subdivision opponents over the next five weeks. Beginning the fifth week of play, the real season starts for Villanova as they plan to enter war against No. 5 William & Mary this weekend. The match against the undefeated William & Mary team will serve as the first test for the ‘Cats in the CAA, but coach Talley is confident in his team.

“[The Northeastern game] was like a crescendo to get us into that fifth game with enough reps and enough work because there isn’t anything we won’t see,” Talley said.

With their offense and defense firing on all cylinders, Talley and the ‘Cats are looking to ride this momentum into the heart of their conference schedule.