Mistakes prove costly for Wildcats

James Leblanc

Last weekend the Villanova Wildcats welcomed the University of Rhode Island Rams for the annual homecoming weekend football game.

While the weather was miserable, more than just a few loyal fans, both students and alumni, stuck it out until the end. They were rewarded by witnessing an offensive display with Villanova coming out on the short end of a 48-30 game with over 800 yards of total yardage.

URI quarterback Jayson Davis proved to be too much for the Villanova (3-4, 1-3 A10) defense to handle. He only completed three of seven passes for a mere 40 yards and no touchdowns, but on the ground he was nearly unstoppable. On 19 carries the quarterback ran for 189 yards, an average of nearly 10 yards per carry. He also added three touchdowns. Halfback Joe Casey contributed 172 yards on the ground to go along with two touchdowns.

The Villanova offense was able to move the ball on the Ram defense. Quarterback Frank Jankowski completed 23 of 38 pass attempts for 194 yards and a touchdown. Villanova halfback Mo Gibson carried the ball 18 times for 88 yards with two touchdowns and J.J. Outlaw added 86 yards rushing on only four carries.

The difference in the game was the Wildcats’ inability to overcome their mistakes. Villanova turned the ball over three times as opposed to URI’s not turning it over once, an impressive feat in the rain. Villanova also committed a costly penalty negating a big kick return by Mo Gibson at a crucial point in the game. URI and Villanova traded blocked punts.

“We expected to get some turnovers since they had committed a bunch prior to our game,” Talley told VU Sports. “They played a flawless game on offense and we were the ones that turned it over. The blocked punt really hurt us, and in a close game these mistakes cost us a game. The weather conditions were bad, and we had our problems in the rain.”

Villanova got off to a fast start in the game. By the end of the first quarter they led 9-3 on the strength of a blocked punt for a safety and Mo Gibson’s one-yard touchdown run. Dequese May added a touchdown run to give Villanova a 16-3 lead, but from that point on it was all URI.

URI went on a 21-0 run to take the lead. The biggest play came when Villanova punter, Adam James, had his punt blocked. This led to a URI touchdown only a few plays later giving the Rams all of the momentum as well as their first lead of the game. It was a lead that they would never relinquish. Villanova added a touchdown right before the half to cut the deficit to 24-23.

The second half saw URI put on a running clinic. Joe Casey scored on a 40-yard run not even two minutes into the half to give the Rams an eight point lead. A second Mo Gibson touchdown run once again brought Villanova within one point at 31-30, but that is as close as the Wildcats would get. URI would close out the game on a 17-0 run, turning the game into a rout, on the strength of two Jayson Davis touchdown runs.

“Turnovers cost us the game,” Villanova head coach Andy Talley said afterwards. “Simply put they executed their offense in the rain better than we did.”

The real show came at halftime when former Villanova halfback and current Philadelphia Eagle’s star Brian Westbrook had his number retired. The NFL Pro-Bowler had only nice things to say about his former school.

The Wildcats (3-4, 1-3 Atlantic 10) cannot afford to dwell on this loss for long. This Saturday they welcome a very good William and Mary team to Villanova Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.