Gibson, ‘Cats upend New Hampshire

James Evans

The first play of Saturday’s game set the tone for the showdown between No. 6 ranked Villanova and New Hampshire this afternoon, an 89-yard kick-off return for a touchdown by Martin “Mo” Gibson.

Gibson and quarterback Joe Casamento would pace the ‘Cats to an easy victory, 48-14, improving the ‘Cats’ record to 3-0.

Casamento kept his amazing season going, as he threw for 245 yards on 22 of 31 passes and three touchdowns, along with notching a rushing touchdown.

But the real star of the game was Gibson. Along with the kick-off return for touchdown, he rushed the ball 11 times for 100 yards and rang up two touchdowns of his own.

Another player who is beginning to become a weekly star for ‘Nova is wide receiver J.J. Outlaw. Outlaw caught five balls for 127 yards and also contributed on the ground, carrying three times for 56 yards.

Most of Outlaw’s catches were little dumps that Outlaw turned into big gains with his speed and agility. Likewise, when he ran it was on reverses, and his ability to dodge defenders and make cuts caused problems for New Hampshire all day long.

The first quarter was picture perfect for the ‘Cats, as they racked up 26 early points. New Hampshire had a chance to answer the early kick-off return by the ‘Cats with a good 50-yard return of its own, put together a couple of passes and found itself 17 yards away from tying the game. But the ‘Nova defense rose to the occasion, as the front four was able to put pressure on Mike Granieri and force him into a bad pass that linebacker Bryan Adams was able to pick it off. The ‘Cats would eventually drive down the field and a one-yard keeper by Casamento would put the ‘Cats ahead 12-0.

The ‘Cats would add two more touchdowns on a Gibson one-yard run and a 14-yard pass by Casamento to Noble Champen to put the ‘Cats up 26-0 at the end of the first.

The second quarter started off a little shaky for the ‘Cats. As New Hampshire opened the quarter with the ball, they struggled for a while and wound up with a fourth and inches. In a daring move, New Hampshire decided to go for it on its own 47. Quarterback Granieri kept the ball and was able to get a yard for the first down. New Hampshire then drove the remaining field and scored a touchdown.

It seemed as if the New Hampshire offense had sparked its defense, because the ‘Cats were then stopped on their ensuing drive and had to punt. And once again New Hampshire saw the opportunity and took advantage of it, as Granieri connected with David Ball for a 14-yard pass and cut the score to 26-14.

But he ‘Cats put the game away as time was dwindling down in the half. Casamento connected on a two-yard pass to Matt Chila, and after a successful two point conversion the ‘Cats walked into halftime with a comfortable 34-14 lead.

In the second half the ‘Cats secured the win by running down the clock and executing smart ball management. The defense did not allow a touchdown or single point, while the offense continued to click as Casamento hooked up with John Dieser for a touchdown and Gibson ran in his second touchdown of the day.

The ‘Cats go into their bye week 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the conference. The biggest game of this young season, though, is still a couple of weeks away, when the Northeastern Huskies come to the Main Line in late September. The Huskies have a swarming defense, led by Liam Ezekiel, who is one of the best linebackers in the Atlantic 10. This game has already been built up as a battle for the championship in the A-10 this year.