Football: ‘Nova nets first win over Penn

Tim Richer

Powered by the a huge crowd, outstanding play by quarterback Marvin Burroughs and a late defensive stand, the Villanova Wildcats (1-3, 0-1 A-10) defeated the Pennsylvania Quakers (1-1) to collect their first win of the 2006 season on Saturday.

The Wildcats won 27-20 in front of a crowd of 22,500 at Franklin Field in Philadelphia. This marked the second year in a row that the local rivalry generated over 20,000 fans.

“That game was a tribute to our fan base,” head coach Andy Talley said. “To go into that game at 0-3 and have just as many fans there as Penn was tremendous. I thought it was great.”

Penn threatened to tie the game late by launching a drive with 2:35 left in the fourth quarter. They marched deep into Villanova territory, collecting 61 yards.

The game ended, however, with Penn on the ‘Nova 7 yard-line, as the Quakers ran out of time after the Wildcats’ defensive line knocked down a pass attempt by quarterback Bryan Walker with no time left on the game clock.

“It was very inspirational for our defense,” Talley said. “We were jubilant to win like that. We played very physical and it was a good win.”

What was anticipated to be an offensive slugfest turned into a defensive match-up, as neither Villanova nor Penn scored throughout the entire second half. All of the 47 points scored in the game were collected in the first half.

‘Nova was never able to gain a comfortable lead as the greatest deficit in the game was the seven-point margin that the Wildcats held onto for the second half.

Burroughs led the game for the Wildcats, tallying 274 passing yards, 93 rushing yards and three touchdown passes. Burroughs also collected 17 receiving yards, all from a reverse-turned-pass from wide reciever Phil Atkinson.

“Before, we were holding back Marvin because of the shoulder injury that kept him out last year,” Talley said. “Saturday we let him go and he had a terrific game.”

Burroughs’ biggest play came in the second quarter when he hit wide reciever Chris Polite for a 57-yard touchdown pass. Polite finished the game with six catches for 89 yards.

Running back DeQuese May also played a large role in the offensive assault for ‘Nova, gaining 120 yards on 17 carries and 99 yards on four receptions. Two of his receptions went for touchdowns .

“At times he played like Brian Westbrook,” said Talley of May’s play rushing and passing abilities displayed on the field.

After it was all said and done, the Wildcat offense produced a total of 542 yards, their high for the season.

The Penn offense was less efficient, tallying only 305 yards. All three of Penn’s scores were on plays that went for 20 yards or more, including running back Joe Sandberg’s 74-yard run and defensive back Greg Ambrogi’s 60-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Despite their inconsistencies, the ‘Cats dominated the time of possession, having control of the football for 10 minutes more than the Quakers. ‘Nova also forced Penn into committing five turnovers.

With last Saturday’s win, the Wildcats continued their recent domination over Penn. They are now 4-0 in the last five years and lead the series 6-5.