At a critical juncture in their season, the Villanova football team turned a lot of heads last week with a convincing 35-21 upset win over the William & Mary Tribe. The Wildcats, however, need to keep the momentum going in what could be a tough road match-up against the Towson Tigers.
Where the Teams Stand
Villanova’s big win against the Tribe last week pulled them to an even 4-4 record on the season and 2-3 in the Atlantic 10. Towson is currently ahead of the Wildcats in the South Division standings, with an overall season record of 5-3, but they are just 2-3 in conference play. The Tigers split their first four games, before running off a three game winning streak against the likes of Delaware, Rhode Island and Liberty before dropping a game to William & Mary and having a bye week.
When Villanova Has the Ball
Despite throwing three picks against William & Mary, QB Frank Jankowski was able to lead some strong downfield drives and toss three touchdown passes in last week’s victory. Jankowski finished 25-35 on the day for 325 yards and spread the ball around very effectively. His weapon of choice on the day was senior WR John Dieser, who made 11 catches for an outstanding 182 yards and also scored a touchdown. Jankowski’s other touchdown passes were caught by senior WR J.J. Outlaw and sophomore WR Anton Ridley. Outlaw had seven catches for 65 yards, while Ridley finished with four catches for 56 yards. Overall, the passing game was very productive in the crucial win for the Wildcats. Not to be outdone on the day, however, was the rushing game, led by a big time performance by RB Moe Gibson. Gibson victimized the Tribe defense for 176 yards on 34 carries, including a 30 yard run that ended in the end zone for a Villanova touchdown. The incredibly balanced and well-run Villanova offense totaled a stellar 540 yards of total offense in what was one of their most impressive showings on the season. A repeat performance is possible against Towson’s defense, which has certainly not been their strong suit this season. The defense allows 31.3 points per game. More alarmingly is that when the Tigers lose, they lose big, allowing totals of 62, 56 and 44 in their three losses this year. If Jankowski, Gibson and Dieser all play like they did last Saturday, it’s not hard to imagine the Wildcats prevailing in a high-scoring affair.
When Towson Has the Ball
Towson’s offense has been a big reason for their success this season. Their offense is run by freshman QB Sean Schaefer, who has been sharp in his debut season as the Tigers’ signal caller. On the season, Schaefer has completed over 62 percent of his passes and thrown for 2,035 yards and 14 touchdowns. On the downside, however, he has thrown 12 interceptions this year. Still, his 135.8 quarterback rating is certainly impressive, particularly for a freshman. He has some very serviceable weapons at his disposal, led by the dangerous junior WR Andrae Brown. Brown has made 46 catches for 728 yards on the year and has an outstanding seven touchdowns this year. Bolstering the receiving corps is freshman WR Marcus Lee, who’s made 36 catches for 419 yards thus far in the Tigers’ first eight games. Running the ball for the Tigers is the solid though not spectacular Nick Williams, who’s tallied 709 yards on the year. The offense does have weapons to work with, but Villanova’s defense turned in a great performance against the Tribe last week. The pass rush and secondary combined to heavily frustrate QB Jacob Phillips, who went only 13-33 with two picks. DB Rodney Badger had the big play of the day, returning one of Phillips’ errant passes for a touchdown. The run defense, which has struggled, held William & Mary to 95 yards on the ground. Overall, it was an inspiring day for Coach Andy Talley’s defense against a usually productive offensive unit.
Villanova made a statement and looked very good doing so last weekend. Needing a win to pull its A-10 record even this week, Villanova goes on the road and comes away with another big conference win in a high-scoring bout. Villanova 38, Towson 35.