Football: Running on all cylinders

Tim Richer

The Wildcats put up one of their strongest offensive games of the season as they engaged in a shootout with William & Mary. Villanova won in the last minute, as it edged the Tribe 35-31 in a thriller in Williamsburg, Va.

Trailing by three with 2:09 remaining in the fourth quarter, ‘Nova drove 67 yards and eventually scored on a one-yard sneak from quarterback Marvin Burroughs with 35 seconds remaining. The drive included 4-of-5 passing from Burroughs for 51 yards.

“This was as great a win as we’ve ever had,” Head Coach Andy Talley said. “Our offense came alive and so many guys had a great game. It was just a terrific win.”

The key plays came late in the fourth quarter when wide receiver Phil Atkinson caught a 22-yard pass from Burroughs, which brought Villanova (3-5, 2-3 A-10) to the William & Mary 16-yard line. The following play was a pass interference call on the Tribe (2-6, 0-5 A-10), which put ‘Nova on the goal line to eventually win the game.

Burroughs rebounded from his worst effort of the season against Towson to play a flawless game. The senior quarterback tallied 284 passing yards on 14-of-19 attempts. He also threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, his one-yard winning rush.

The offense was running on all cylinders as it compiled 508 total yards. The attack was balanced; ‘Nova ran for 224 yards.

Runningback DeQuese May totaled 148 all-purpose yards, including a 31-yard receiving touchdown on Villanova’s opening drive of the game and a 6-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The impressive play of runningback Matt Dicken continued, as he ran for a season-high 96 yards on 16 carries.

Playing without starting receivers Chris Polite and Anton Ridley for the second week in a row, the Wildcat reserves were able to step in and pick up the load. Four receivers gained at least 50 yards.

The defense was heavily injured, as well. Among the hurt starters were cornerback Derek Durkin, linebackers Darrel Young, linebacker Bryan Adams and defensive tackle David Dalessand.

“The biggest thing is for your players not to give-up, to compete and then see what happens,” Talley said. “We gave everything we had and played as a team.”

Early on, it looked like Villanova would have trouble with William & Mary’s offense. The Tribe gained half of their total yards on their first three possessions. They scored three straight times to make the early score 21-7.

William & Mary runningback Elijah Brooks scored twice within four minutes, thanks to a fumble lost by ‘Nova’s Salim Koroma on the ensuing kickoff after Brooks’ first score. The Tribe would score on an extended drive in their next possession early in the second quarter.

The Villanova defense locked down at that point and did not allow any more points until the fourth quarter. ‘Nova dominated the second half as it held the ball for seven minutes more than the Tribe.

Safety Allyn Bacchus had his best game of the season as he racked up a team-high of 14 tackles. The Virginia native had over 50 fans in the crowd watching his homecoming.

The league win boosted Villanova into a three-way tie with Delaware and Richmond in the Atlantic 10 South. The Wildcats still have to play both teams.

William & Mary remain winless in the Atlantic 10 South and in last place.

With the win, ‘Nova improved to 3-2 on the road. The Wildcats look to have their first victory at home this season their second straight as they host the University of Richmond (5-3, 2-3 A-10) on Saturday at Villanova Stadium.

“We’re on such a high right now,” Talley said. “We’re going to play a lot looser than [Richmond] because they have the playoffs on the line.”