Harvey’s career night helps Wildcats complete thrilling 27-24 comeback

David Cassilo

It was arguably the worst first half of Brandyn Harvey’s career. He was dropping passes he had routinely caught a season ago, and the one reception he did make ended in a fumble. As he entered the locker room during halftime, he had two choices – dwell on it or forget about it. He chose the latter.

“In the beginning, I don’t know what I was thinking, but as [Head Coach Andy Talley] always tells us, great receivers find a way to come back, and they forget about what happened in the first half,” Harvey said. “I want to be great, so I just forgot about what happened in the first half.”

Forgetting about it was one thing, but Harvey needed to perform as well. On a crucial third down-and-two during Villanova’s last drive of the third quarter, Harvey finally got that chance as he hauled in a 27-yard pass down the Villanova sideline. The Wildcats’ veteran receiver was back and just in time for a comeback.

Harvey quickly became quarterback Chris Whitney’s go-to guy as the team rallied from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit. His previously unforgiving hands now were hauling in spectacular catches routinely.

Perhaps none of these were more impressive than a 26-yard catch on fourth down-and-five to keep a Villanova drive and comeback alive in the fourth quarter. Harvey lept near the Villanova sideline at the Temple 14-yard line and was barely able to get his toes down before being forced out of bounds.

“I got the toes down,” Harvey said. “I kind of bobbled it when I fell, but I just made sure I held onto the ball because it was late in the game and we needed to go down and score.”

The drive ended in a field goal to cut the score to 24-17 and set up an even more spectacular encore for Harvey. On the Wildcats’ next drive, Whitney looked back to Harvey for his most important pass of the night – the game-tying touchdown.

“I just ran a crossing pattern and had to get through the defense to find a hole,” Harvey said. “Whitney found me right there, and I just made sure I held onto it.”

One of the catalysts behind Villanova’s comeback, Harvey finished the night with a career-high 142 yards and nine receptions, eight of which came in the second half. His performance earned him CAA Offensive Player of the Week honors for Sept. 7.

It was a performance the Wildcats required to upset Temple last week, and one that Talley expects and needs from Harvey this season.

“Brandyn is capable of doing what he did against Temple, making the big catch in the end zone, making the nice catch on the sideline in a critical situation,” Talley said. “Our other kids aren’t as skilled as him yet.”