Villanova falls to South Dakota State, eliminated from FCS playoffs

David Jarman

Despite a fantastic defensive effort, Villanova lost to South Dakota State 10-7 in the second round of FCS playoffs by the foot of Chase Vinatieri. The nephew of current Colts Kicker and future NFL Hall of Famer Adam Vinatieri made a 40-yard field goal with 1:21 left in the 4th quarter. When the ball left Chase Vinatieri’s foot, it was heading towards the right field goal post and initially looked like it might be missed far right. Like a pinball, though, the football hit the right field goal post and bounced in to win the game.

For a team that was averaging almost 37 points a game on offense, the Wildcat defense knew they needed to stop the dynamic offensive attack of the Jackrabbits. Going into today’s contest, South Dakota State quarterback Taryn Christion had thrown for over 3,000 yards and 29 touchdowns. Christion had two 6’4 weapons to throw to on the outside—receiver Jake Weineke and tight end Dallas Goedert, who each had over 1,000 yards receiving and combined for 26 touchdowns. Their ground attack had rushed for over 1,800 yards amongst three running backs, lead by Brady Mengarelli who has 714 rushing yards this season.

Yet, with all these weapons on offense, the Wildcats shut down the run game and limited the passing game of the Jackrabbits. The Wildcats gave up a total of 197 total yards, allowing only 124 in the first half. The defense, lead by CAA Defensive Player of the Year Tanoh Kpassagnon, stopped the running attack of South Dakota State which had a total of seven rushing yards for the game—due largely to the eight carries for 34 negative yards by Christion. This forced the Jackrabbits to throw the ball on a cold, snowy day in Brooking, South Dakota. Christion completed 20/33 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown to Dallas Goedert with 2:40 left in the first quarter to give the Jackrabbits the 7-0 lead. While these statistics may seem average, what should be noted is the toughness of the Villanova defense and the great plays of the secondary. Linebacker Ed Shockley led the Wildcats with 10 tackles—his third game with double digit tackles this season. Red shirt freshman Jafonta Johnson and freshman defensive lineman Jeff Wiley each had a sack as well. 

On the offensive side of the ball, Villanova moved up and down the field significantly better than the Jackrabbit offense. The Wildcats had 17 first downs, 321 yards on offense, and more time of possession than South Dakota State. Despite that, converting on 4th down proved difficult for the ‘Cats. Villanova converted once on their four chances on 4th down, which hurt their chances of scoring more than seven points today.

On Villanova’s first offensive possession of the game, they had an 11 play, 66 yard drive that resulted in no points because they did not convert on 4th and 2 on the Jackrabbit 22 yard line. That was one of the few opportunities when the Villanova offense could have continued their offensive drives and put more points on the board. Bednarczyk was 20/36 passing for 220 yards and threw a touchdown pass to Sophomore receiver Alex Padavoni with two seconds remaining in the first half. 

After the Vinatieri field goal, Villanova had a chance to drive down the field and tie the game with 1:21 and 1 timeout left in the 4th quarter. After Bednarczyk was sacked on first down, Villanova threw three incomplete passes in a row to give the ball back to the Jackrabbits, ending the game.  

Today officially ends the Andy Talley era at Villanova. He finishes his 37-year coaching career with 258 wins—the most by any active FBS or FCS coach. His career at Villanova includes 25 winning seasons, 12 playoff appearances, three Walter Peyton Award Winners (Brian Finneran, Brian Westbrook, and John Robertson), the 2009 National Championship, and 230 wins in his 32 years on the Mainline.