‘Nova seeking third straight win against Hofstra Pride

Tom Boyle

After rallying from a third quarter deficit to come back last week against James Madison University, the Wildcats look strong and optimistic coming into this weekend’s game against the Hofstra Pride.

‘Nova received strong offensive performances from wide receiver Noble Champen, tight end Matt Chila, freshmen John Dieser and especially quarterback Brett Gordon.

Champen had a career-high nine receptions for 58 yards, while Chila returned from a concussion he suffered against New Hampshire to post five catches for 58 yards, including a five-yard touchdown pass. Freshman wide receiver Dieser was named Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week for hauling in two touchdown passes, one of which included the 25-yard game-winner.

Quarterback Gordon earned the Offensive Player of the Week award for his impressive outing against the Dukes. Gordon completed a remarkable 40 of 57 passes for a whopping 427 yards and four touchdowns to lead Villanova to victory last Saturday. These statistics set career highs for both completions and attempts while marking his third career 400-yard passing game.

Villanova also flexed its defensive muscles with strong contributions from linebacker Jamison Young and freshman linebacker Brian Hulea. Young posted a team-high 13 tackles, while freshman Brian Hulea collected eight unassisted tackles.

Hofstra suffered a 28-17 loss last Saturday to Northeastern, the first time the Pride has lost consecutive A-10 contests since joining the league last season. Regardless of the loss, Hofstra quarterback Ryan Cosentino completed 25 passes for 299 yards to go along with a touchdown. Cosentino’s key connection is wide receiver Ricky Bryant, who recorded nine catches for 102 yards last weekend, one of which was a 38-yard TD reception. Linebacker Cole Haley also contributed a career high 13 tackles despite a poor performance by the defense.

With only a 2-3 record, this year’s Hofstra team may not have lived up to the success of past squads; however, they are still considered to be a very explosive team. The offense uses a variety of sets that are geared toward fast downfield movement. Oftentimes, Hofstra uses a single back and four wide receivers, making them more than capable of gaining yards in large chunks against unsuspecting defenses. Cosentino is completing just about 60 percent of his passes with 1,415 passing yards and 10 touchdown passes.

The Pride’s highly-regarded aerial attack will have a tough challenge, however, as the ‘Cats have the best pass defense in the Atlantic-10, with opposing quarterbacks completing a dismal 48.6 percent. This contrast in styles should make for some great matchups against the Villanova defensive backs and Hofstra wide receivers.

The defensive success will depend on the ‘Cats’ linebackers and defensive line to create up-field pressure and disrupt the timing of Cosentino’s offense. Considering Hofstra’s less-than-potent ground attack, the sooner the ‘Cats can reduce the Hofstra offense into a one-dimensional passing team, the easier it will be for them to blitz and get hits on Cosentino.

Game time is set for noon on Saturday at Villanova Stadium.