Football Wins ‘Battle of the Blue,’ 29-26


Quinn Burns/Villanovan Photography

Villanova’s win put it at 6-5 on the season and 4-4 in CAA play.

Owen Hewitt, Staff Writer

Villanova football claimed the “Battle of the Blue” over Delaware on Saturday afternoon after junior quarterback Connor Watkins’ keeper and ensuing two-point conversion with just 1:11 to play gave the Wildcats a 29-26 lead and eventually the win. The Watkins touchdown was set up by a blocked punt, one of two on the day for the Villanova punt team. That same punt team also muffed two punts on the afternoon. The win ends Villanova’s season with a 6-5 overall and 4-4 in CAA play.

“Two blocked punts gave us great field position,” Villanova head coach Mark Ferrante said postgame. “They put us in position to win that game.”

Watkins threw for 122 yards on 16 attempts, and rushed for two touchdowns and 60 yards on 10 attempts. Senior running back DeeWil Barlee picked up two touchdowns and 66 yards on 22 carries. Graduate wide receiver Dez Boykin led the team in receiving yards with 96 yards on two catches.

“We don’t want the seniors going out losing though in our rivalry game,” Watkins said. “We adopt the standard that there’s been a lot of guys that have come before us that have a great record against Delaware. So for us, it’s just trying to keep those standards.”

Delaware ran 89 plays to Villanova’s 50. The Blue Hens outgained the Wildcats, 461-250. The Blue Hens threw for 347 yards opposed to 122 yards for the ‘Cats. In spite of this, the ‘Cats were able to pick up the victory. 

The game started on a good note for the ‘Cats, with the Blue Hens coughing up the ball on their first drive to give Villanova a short field. The ‘Cats took advantage with a seven yard Watkins rushing touchdown capping off a 36-yard drive to go ahead 7-0 after a successful PAT. 

The Blue Hens answered quickly, with blown coverage leading to a 48-yard touchdown pass, tying things up 7-7. Graduate wide receiver Thyrick Pitts scored back-to-back touchdowns. The second capped off a 17-play 85-yard drive that made the score 13-7 after a failed PAT.

Villanova was able to pull ahead with a Barlee touchdown rush with 3:07 left in the half, making things 14-13. But enough time was left for the Blue Hens to put together a drive for a 32-yard field goal before the half ended to make things 16-14 going into the break. 

The Blue Hens got the scoring started in the second half on a short field due to a muffed punt by Villanova. Senior receiver Jourdan Townsend caught a 25-yard touchdown pass to move the scoreline to 23-14. Before the close of the third, Barlee punched in an 11-yard rushing touchdown, making it 23-21. 

Delaware picked up another field goal, this time from 25 yards out to go up 26-21 with 10:35 left to play. The ‘Cats failed to get their offense started for most of the third quarter, but after a blocked punt set them up with a 10-yard field, the ‘Cats were able to capitalize on fourth down, with Watkins fooling the defense and running to the right into the end zone. 

“I think down the stretch, fourth down, getting as many bodies on bodies as possible,” Watkins. “Got the ball in my hands, and we were able to have two tight ends and a running back blocking our right edge. So it’s kind of just get as many people as possible and out muscle them.”

While the season has been disappointing, ending the year with a rivalry win lets Villanova go into the offseason on a positive note.

“Six and five is a lot better than five and six.” Ferrante said. “It’s definitely a much better taste in our mouth.”