‘Nova Solves Scoring Woes in defeat of Richmond


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

‘Nova Solves Scoring Woes in defeat of Richmond

Tyler Kemp

Earler today, Villanova’s football team finally exorcised their shutout demons. The Wildcats travelled down to Virginia to defeat Richmond 45-21. It has been 29 days since the Wildcats have scored a point in one of their games as this game marked the end of a bad slump and the beginning of a new era at quarterback.

Freshman Qadir Ismail of Bel Air, Maryland took the controls on offense with senior captain Zach Bednardczyk nursing a shoulder injury. Ismail finished his first career start with a stat line 8/17 passing for 132 yards to go along with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Ismail was not forced into many dire situations on the field as his supporting cast came to play against the Spiders.

After trading punts on the first two drives, Ismail and the Wildcat offense was able to conduct a scoring drive which ended with an Aaron Forbes touchdown. The senior captain running back finished the game with 20 carries for 160 yards and the aforementioned touchdown. The Wildcats’ defense also responded to the challenge of playing on the road as they forced the first one of the Spiders’ seven turnovers on the ensuing drive with an interception by Christian Benford.

After a Wildcats punt, defensive back Jaquan Amos forced a fumble which fellow defensive back Chucky Smith recovered. This set up a Drew Kresge field goal which gave the Wildcats a 10-0 lead. Richmond quarterback Joe Mancuso responded on the next drive with 2-yard run for a touchdown to close the gap to 10-7. The Wildcats did not rest on their laurels though, as Ismail threw his lone touchdown to wide receiver Jarrett McClenton from 15 yards out to extend the lead to 17-7. Two plays after the ensuing kickoff, Mancuso threw another interception to Christian Benford which led to another Drew Kresge field goal, making the score 20-7 going into the half.

The Spiders opened up the scoring in the third quarter with a trick play pass from wide receiver Caleb Drake to his quarterback Mancuso to get the deficit to within a touchdown at 20-14. Ismail slipped up on his next drive and threw his one interception to defensive back Daniel Jones. Two drives later, the Wildcat defense picked up the slack as defensive back Nowoola Awopetu got a pick six to extend the lead to 28-14. In a matter of seconds, Awopetu got his second pick of the day off of Richmond backup quarterback Kevin Johnson. A couple of drives later, Kresge drove a kick between the uprights from 28 yards away for a 31-14 lead (Kresge finished 2/3 on field goals for the day).

It seemed that once a Richmond quarterback threw a pick to a Nova DB, it was only right that they threw another one to the same player. Kevin Johnson threw yet another interception to Awopetu, which he took back to the house from 18 yards away to ice the game for good at 38-14. From there, both teams traded touchdowns and the blowout reached its conclusion. 

This was a big confidence booster for head coach Mark Ferrante and his Wildcats squad that has dealt with a myriad of injuries during the season. With the win, the ‘Cats were finally able to snap their four-game losing streak. This was also a boost of confidence for Qadir Ismail as, although he had played sparingly the previous week vs. New Hampshire, he finally received his first start of the season. This game let coach Ferrante know that he has a viable starter for at least the rest of the season if his senior captain Bednarczyk cannot finish the year. In addition, Ismail should be in prime position to compete for the starting job full time next season. It will be intriguing to see how he does next Saturday against William and Mary at 1 p.m. and the following week in the Battle of the Blue at University of Delaware 12 p.m.