‘Nova roughs up Huskies

Joe Groglio

Throughout the course of a football season, every successful team must begin to develop an identity, something that separates them from other opponents. In their dominant win against Northeastern on Saturday, the Villanova Wildcats showed that they will thrive on toughness and intensity. Part of that is mental toughness, which the ‘Cats showed as they remained focused after a thunderstorm delayed the game for over an hour. Part of that is maturity and ability to transition after injury, as they showed when Frank Jankowski made a seamless transition to the starting quarterback role after losing their star Marvin Burroughs for the season. With everything they showed against the Huskies of Northeasten, the ‘Cats should be poised for a successful 2005 campaign.

After Northeastern took an early 3-0 lead early in the first quarter, the defensive unit stepped up and forced a punt on the next drive. Freshman Darell Young then made the first of several big special teams plays of the day, blocking the punt and eventually covering it up in the end zone for a touchdown. This play, along with twoother tackles lead Young to be named the Atlantic 10 special teams player of the week, a huge honor for the freshman. Later in the quarter, Matt Dicken topped off a 70 yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run, putting the ‘Cats up 13-3. On the next drive however lighting was seen in the skies, and so the officials forced both sides into the locker rooms for a delay.

Coming out of the delay many teams would have been unfocused and rusty. However the Wildcats quickly went to work after allowing a northeastern touchdown by big back Maurice Murray. With 10 minutes left in the second, corner Rodney Badger intercepted a pass on an out route and fumbled as he raced toward the end zone. When the dust cleared senior captain Brian Hulea recovered the ball for a touchdown to put the ‘Cats up 9. Later in the period after another long drive led by Frank Jankowski, Matt Dicken picked up his second touchdown of the day on a two-yard run, which gave ‘Nova a 26-10 lead going into halftime.

The second half brought more of the same, as a Brian Hulea interception led to an Adam James field goal, and a fumble recovery led to a leaping touchdown catch by receiver Anton Ridley. The defense continued to hold the Huskies in check, only allowing one late touchdown. This unit was led by Hulea, who was named Atlantic 10 defensive player of the week after making 14 tackles, one fumble recovery, and one interception. Rodney Badger also had a great game at corner, recording four tackles to go with an interception and two pass breakups. Allyn Bacchus the three- year starter at safety, recorded 13 tackles of his own while forcing a fumble. The defensive line was rock solid all game even after Senior All American Darell Adams left the game with an injury. Dave Dalessandro recorded a sack and three tackles, Russ Mckittrick was all over the field, and Brian Hentosz and Matty Constantino clogged the middle all game. And linebacker’s JC Cooper and Blake Shubert complimented Hulea well, combining for five tackles. Kalise Cook and Zach Mariacher combined for 15 tackles in the secondary, while Eugene Clay filled in well for an injured Terrance Reaves.

The offense performed at a high level, with Jankowski leading the way throwing for 241 yards and a touchdown. J.J. outlaw and John Dieser racked up 64 and 73 receiving yards respectively. Mo Gibson ran for 80 yards on 15 carries, providing speed rushing which was complimented by Matt Dicken’s touch inside running. Dequese May was spectacular as a lead blocker, while also bringing in 22 receiving yards. Matt Sherry at tight end added 32 yards and a terrific blocking performance. But the unit that impressed the most had to be the offensive line, as they rebounded from a tough game at Rutgers to push around the Northeastern defense, led by Mike Costanzo, John Finneran and Christian Gaddis. First year players Izzy Bauta, Jon Krohe and Mike Sheridan played admirably and showed tremendous improvement. And in an often overlooked position, Adam James was tremendous punting the ball, while freshman Joe Marcoux blasted the ball into the end zone on almost all of his kickoffs.

Overall, this game showed a tremendous all around effort from a team that has a deep desire to win. They will get another test this week when they face Penn at Franklin Field at 7 p.m. Saturday. If the ‘Cats bring the same energy and efficiency, then they should be in good position to pick up another victory and move forward towards the tough road that is the A-10.