Football: ‘Nova puts up Dukes in upset



Tim Richer

Saturday’s game against JMU was the seniors’ last at Villanova Stadium, and no one could have asked for a better ending.

The Wildcats pulled out their best win of the season, defeating the No. 4 ranked Dukes, 21-20.

‘Nova won on a dramatic drive that went for 80 yards, culminating with a 16-yard rushing touchdown from running back DeQuese May with 1:21 remaining in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Marvin Burroughs completed 4 of 5 attempted passes for 71 yards on the winning possession that put the Wildcats up by 1 point.

“We couldn’t ask for a better way to go out,” senior tri-captain Allyn Bacchus said. “This is almost like a storybook ending.”

With the win, Villanova (5-5, 4-3 A-10) extended their winning streak to three. After starting the season 0-3, ‘Nova won five of their last seven games.

“Besides [No. 3] UMass, Villanova is the hottest team in our league,” James Madison Head Coach Mickey Matthews said. “They are a very good football team.”

Wide receiver Brandyn Harvey led the Wildcats offensively with four catches for 82 yards. His big strike came on a 42-yard catch in the third quarter and set up a Matt Dicken touchdown run. Dicken had two scores for the day to give his team-high of nine touchdowns for the season.

The Wildcats got off to a fast start when they opened the game with an 80-yard drive that ended with Dicken’s first touchdown. James Madison tied the score on the next possession.

Timely turnovers and penalties hampered JMU as the team was never able to put the game out of reach.

The Dukes (8-2, 6-1 A-10) were up late in the second quarter 10-7 with the Wildcats punting. JMU’s wide receiver L.C. Baker returned the punt for 56 yards but fumbled on the Villanova 5-yard line as he was making his way into the end- zone. The ball was recovered by Bacchus.

In the third quarter, Baker had a punt return for a touchdown that was nullified by an illegal block penalty. They ended up punting the ball back to Villanova on that drive.

James Madison squandered its last major scoring threat when quarterback Justin Rascati fumbled a snap in the fourth quarter that was recovered by ‘Nova linebacker Bryan Adams on the Villanova 21-yard line. ‘Nova would go on to score the winning points two possessions later.

“They were clearly the better football team,” Villanova Head Coach Andy Talley said. “We got some breaks and won.”

The loss was only James Madison’s second defeat of the season; the other was to No. 1 ranked Appalachian State.

‘Nova often had troubles moving the football on offense, but the defense held strong the entire game. The Dukes were forced into five punts, two field goals and a turnover on downs despite having dominant field position over the Wildcats for the duration of the game.

Bacchus and Adams each had nine tackles in addition to their fumble recoveries. Defensive tackle David Dalessandro turned in a dominant performance, recording six tackles, a broken-up pass and several rushes on JMU’s Rascati.

Freshman punter Zach Ugarte was rewarded for his efforts with the Atlantic 10 Special Teams Player of the Week. Ugarte punted the ball seven times, averaging 42 yards per punt.

The win over James Madison is Villanova’s second straight victory over a ranked opponent. The ‘Cats beat (then No. 15) Richmond in their previous game. In addition, ‘Nova improves to 5-4 in D I-AA and 4-3 in the Atlantic 10.

“This was a great win for our seniors,” Talley said. “We also re-established our football program as a program to be reckoned with.”

The Wildcats look to finish above .500 for the season and win their fourth straight game in their season finale next Saturday at the University of Delaware Blue Hens.