Football: Only end of season can end ‘Cats’ streak



Tim Richer

The football team finished off its season in an impressive fashion, rallying from 20 points behind in the first half to defeat the Delaware Blue Hens 28-27 in Newark, Del.

Late heroics fueled Villanova as the team put together an 80-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter to lead by one point. On the next possession, defensive lineman Peter Caroppolo blocked a 32-yard field goal attempt by the Blue Hens to keep the Wildcats ahead.

With the victory, ‘Nova improved to 6-5 for the season and 5-3 in Atlantic 10 Conference play to finish in second place in the A-10 South Division. The Delaware victory also marked the Wildcats’ fourth straight win after they started the season 2-5.

“In the locker room after the game, it was like we had won a championship,” Head Coach Andy Talley said. “The players were ecstatic.”

Delaware (5-6, 3-5 A-10) jumped out to a fast start by scoring touchdowns on its first three possessions. Kicker Zach Hobby missed a point after touchdown at the end of the first quarter to leave the score at 20-0.

The Wildcats stormed back late in the second quarter, with running backs Matt Dicken and DeQuese May scoring rushing touchdowns.

Quarterback Joe Flacco dominated the game for the Blue Hens as he completed 30 of 41 passes for 337 yards and two touchdowns. He hit wide receiver Kervin Michaud for a 57-yard strike at the end of the second quarter to put Delaware up 27-14.

“We completely lost the momentum going into halftime,” Talley said. “I went into the locker room very angry; I kicked the trash can over and urged them to play well.”

The ‘Nova defense clamped down in the second half, holding the Delaware offense to only 123 yards and no points.

Three Wildcats finished with double-digit tackles for the day; safety Allyn Bacchus had 12, and linebacker Bryan Adams and safety Zach Mariacher finished with 11 each. Bacchus finished the season with a team-high 103 tackles.

May led the Wildcats in the third quarter, putting together two runs of 32 and 14 yards. The latter went for his second touchdown of the game as ‘Nova put the score at 27-21. May had 72 rushing yards for the day.

Villanova went ahead late in the fourth with Dicken’s second touchdown on a 2-yard run. Caroppolo’s blocked kick and an Adams interception with less than a minute to go sealed the game for the ‘Cats.

Dicken finished the season with a team-high 11 rushing touchdowns. May added five rushing and four receiving touchdowns. He also contributed a team-high 538 rushing yards and 479 receiving yards.

This victory marks the first time that this year’s graduating seniors have beaten rival Delaware.

“At our team dinner before the game, the seniors all got up and told everyone to give everything you have,” Talley said. “It was really a mark on their record not beating Delaware, so this really meant a lot.”

With the loss, Delaware fell below .500 for the season in front of a sellout home crowd of almost 22,000. They ended the season with losses in three of their last four games.

The reversed fortunes for the Wildcats’ season came despite a tough schedule. Of their last four wins, two came at home against ranked opponents: then-No. 15 Richmond and then-No. 4 James Madison. The other two victories were on the road against Delaware and in front of a capacity crowd at the William & Mary Homecoming.

Several ‘Cats were rewarded for their stellar play during the season. Bacchus and center Christian Gaddis were both named to the All-Conference Atlantic 10 First Team. May was named to the Second Team and offensive lineman Michael Costanzo was named to the Third Team.

Bacchus was a unanimous selection for the First Team. He ended his career starting all 44 games that he played for Villanova.

“Allyn Bacchus is sensational,” Talley said. “He is one of the best defensive players to ever come through Villanova. He has a good chance to be a pro next year.”

The prospects for next year look promising for ‘Nova. They return most of their defensive starters, except Bacchus, and most of the offense, except Gaddis, May and quarterback Marvin Burroughs. Red-shirted sophomore quarterback Antwon Young will lead Villanova as the team plays its ’07 season opener at University of Maryland to take on the Terrapins of the Atlantic Coast Conference.