Wildcats Open CAA Play Against Lafayette Saturday


Courtesy of Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Dave Jarman

After a hard fought effort, the Wildcats came back from a 13 point defecit against Temple last Saturday, but fell just short. They come home to start CAA play against Lafayette this coming Saturday.  

Lafayette is 0-2 under first-year head coach John Garrett. Garrett’s team has a mix of returning veterans and some youth at key positions. 

They are led by freshman quarterback Sean O’Malley, who earned Patriot League Rookie of the Week for his performance against Sacred Heart last Saturday. He completed 24 of his 44 passes for 276 yards and three touchdowns. One of O’Malley’s favorite targets was sophomore wide receiver Nick Pearson, who had a career high nine catches for 107 yards and a score last week, as well. 

Some key returning players for Lafayette are seniors Matt Mrazek, a receiver who led the team with 71 receptions, 755 yards and eight touchdowns,  tight end, Dylan Wadsworth, who was a First Team All Patriot League selection with 42 receptions for 491 yards and two scores and running back, Desean Brown, who led the team last year in rushing with 341 yards on 96 carries and three touchdowns.

The Wildcats’ defense needs to keep an eye on Wadsworth, who had six receptions for a career best 97 yards against Villanova last season. His 6’4”, 245-pound frame gives O’Malley an easy security blanket for tough situations. 

The Wildcat defense played well last week against Temple, as they limited their opponents’ ground attack to 79 yards rushing. They also stepped up in the second half, and gave up six points while they were also able to stifle Logan Marchi in the backfield. Linebacker Jeff Steeb also stepped up against Temple. Steeb had eight tackles, one for a loss and a sack. With a talented veteran secondary, look for the Villanova defense to pick up where they left off at Lincoln Financial field. 

After throwing for a career high 347 yards against Temple, quarterback Zach Bednarczyk is continuing to improve as the leader of the University’s offense. He and tight end, Ryan Bell were able to connect with each other on multiple occasions, especially in crucial situations. Bell had six receptions for 88 yards last week, and proved to be a great outlet for Bednarczyk. Senior Receiver, Taurus Phillips continues to be consistent on offense as well, as he had six catches for 94 yards and the only touchdown for the University’s offense last week. 

Look for the Wildcats to revive the running game against the Leopards this week. Running backs Aaron Forbes and Matt Gudzak were not pleased with their efforts on the ground, as the team rushed for 20 yards against Temple last Saturday. Forbes is looking forward to playing against Lafayette as he rushed for a career high 111 yards on 11 carries the last time these two teams met. 

In last year’s meeting, Villanova showed their defensive dominance as one of the best in the FCS. They set the tone when former Wildcat Tanoh Kpassagnon returned a 25 yard touchdown on the first play of the game. Steeb had a 45 yard pick six at Lafayette last year, and safety Rob “Quaddy” Rolle had another 100 plus yard pick six (that was unfortunately called back for a clipping penalty) as well. 

In order to achieve its goals this year, the University has its eyes set on winning the CAA Championship. It all starts on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Villanova Stadium.