Wildcats look to upset Temple and bring home Mayor’s Cup


Courtesy of Justin Lafleur/Lehigh Athletics

Dave Jarman

The Mark Ferrante era at Villanova kicked off on a positive note as the new Head Coach earned his first victory last week in a 38-35 win against Lehigh. The offense was able to roll on all cylinders with a balanced attack on the ground as senior running back Matt Gudzak rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Junior quarterback Zach Bednarczyk threw for 209 yards and two scores as well. 

While the Wildcats were able to celebrate a good start to their season, they know that they need to focus on their next opponent: Temple. After leaving as defensive coordinator at the University of Florida, new Owls Head Coach Geoff Collins leads a young, hungry bunch to South Philadelphia looking for their first victory of the season after a loss to Notre Dame.

Known for his defensive prowess after producing NFL prospects Fletcher Cox and highly touted defensive backs Marcus Maye, Quincy Wilson and Jalen “Teez” Tabor in last year’s NFL draft, Collins brings in a defensive style that has his players moving at 110 miles per hour, dialing up creative blitzes and constant D-line pressure to sack the quarterback and create havoc for opposing offenses. 

Unfortunately, not much mayhem was created against the Fighting Irish last week, as Temple allowed 606 yards of total offense in their 49-16 loss. Four hundred and twenty two of those yards were on the ground, 161 of them from junior running back and Central Bucks East product Josh Adams. Irish quarterback Brandon Wimbush added his dual threat presence with 106 yards on the ground and a touchdown, in addition to 184 yards and two scores in the air making him and Adams a dynamic one-two punch.  

This seems to be a good sign for the Wildcats, who had their zone-read offensive plays working with Aaron Forbes, Gudzak, and Bednarczyk. The three of them combined for 258 yards and three scores on the ground.  And while Notre Dame’s ground attack was able to run all over Temple’s defense, the Wildcats know that it won’t be that easy to run against the Owls.  

If there was anything positive for Temple in its loss to Notre Dame it was the play of redshirt sophomore quarterback Logan Marchi, who made his first career college start. Although he wasn’t able to help the Temple offense put up as many points as Notre Dame, he was able to show poise in the pocket and establish some rhythm throughout the game in South Bend. He completed 19 of 35 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns without throwing an interception.  

This will be another test for the Wildcat secondary, which allowed 484 total yards against Lehigh, 406 of them in the air. Led by CAA Pre-Season Defensive Player of the Year Rob “Quaddy” Rolle IV, the Wildcats secondary was able to show a bend but don’t break effort against Lehigh. If the Wildcats allow that many yards against Temple, it will result in a long night for Ferrante and his defense.  

The Wildcats should look out for a bounce back performance from Temple junior running back Ryquell Armstead. While he only had 67 yards on 19 carries against Notre Dame, he was very productive last season carries with former Temple running back Jahad Thomas, as Armstead rushed for 919 yards and 14 touchdowns last year, averaging almost six yards a carry. Redshirt junior receiver Keith Kirkwood, who had four catches for 60 yards and a score against Notre Dame, looks to have another productive season after hauling in 42 receptions for 648 yards and four touchdowns last year. 

The last time Villanova defeated Temple was in 2009, en route to a National Championship with Andy Talley and 2016 World Series Champion Matt Szczur. Since then the Wildcats have lost three straight meetings to the Owls, the last two resulting in blowouts and Temple outscoring Villanova 83-17. With the series tied at 15, the winner of this game will take home the Mayor’s Cup and bragging rights for the rest of the year. Kickoff is set for 3:30 at Lincoln Financial Field.