’Cats stun No. 9 Richmond on Homecoming



Pat Ralph

The Wildcats (6-4 overall, 5-2 in CAA play) won their final home game of the regular season this past Saturday afternoon on Senior Day with a 21-20 victory over the No. 9 Richmond Spiders (7-3 overall, 5-2 in CAA play) at Villanova Stadium. 

Senior wide receiver Kevin Gulyas’ touchdown catch from redshirt freshman quarterback Zach Bednarczyk with less than a minute to play sealed the comeback victory for the Wildcats on Homecoming weekend.

Gulyas was the recipient of both of Bednarczyk’s touchdown passes on the afternoon, leading all Villanova receivers with a career-high eight catches for 122 yards in the contest. It was Gulyas’ fifth career game with over 100 receiving yards and third career game-winning touchdown. The other Wildcat touchdown in the game came on a 14-yard run from freshman wide receiver Jarrett McClenton.

Along with his two touchdown passes, Bednarczyk finished the day 17-of-26 for 202 passing yards and completed passes to eight different Wildcat receivers. The win marked Bednarczyk’s second game-winning touchdown drive of the season. 

The biggest takeaway from the ’Cats’ victory on Saturday was that it keeps the team’s playoff and conference championship hopes alive for one more week. 

The Wildcats close out the regular season this Saturday at James Madison. A win guarantees Villanova no worse than a second place finish in the CAA, with a tie for the conference regular season title also still alive. 

Villanova will need help from those very same Spiders whom the Wildcats defeated last Saturday if the ’Cats want a shot at the CAA title. If Richmond can take down William & Mary on Saturday afternoon and Villanova wins over JMU, the Wildcats will share the CAA title, alongside Richmond and William & Mary. But if William & Mary wins on Saturday, the CAA title will belong solely to William & Mary from Williamsburg, Virginia. 

From star quarterback John Robertson’s season-ending injury to the humiliating loss against Penn, the season has not gone according to plan for Villanova. Nevertheless, after all the team has encountered this season, the ’Cats are playing meaningful football late in the year. To many, the strong play of the Wildcats down the stretch was not expected after all the adversity earlier this season.

“I think the key for us right now is to be playing in significant games in the end of the year,” said Head Coach Andy Talley in the postgame press conference this past Saturday. “JMU will obviously be the most significant game for us. If we can beat them, then we would be deserving of a playoff spot.”

In order to even have a chance at the playoffs or conference title, the Wildcats must first win on Saturday against the Dukes (8-2 overall, 5-2 in CAA play). Like Villanova, James Madison enters Saturday’s matinee on victorious terms after a 24-21 victory over Delaware on the road. 

The Wildcats will need another strong defensive performance on Saturday. Villanova’s defense held Richmond to 20 points despite allowing almost 450 yards of total offense. 

The defense forced Richmond into three turnovers, including recovering two fumbles for the first time this season. To go along with the recovered fumbles, the Wildcats had an interception against the Spiders this past weekend. Saturday’s game against JMU begins and ends on the defensive end for Villanova.

Another important key for Villanova on Saturday will be to establish the run game. Controlling the line of scrimmage will be crucial for the Wildcats’ offense. If Villanova can set up the running game early, it can open up opportunities for Bednarczyk to find his favorite receiving targets.

Maybe most importantly for the Wildcats heading into Saturday’s clash with the Dukes is the need to play smart, clean football. Villanova racked up seven penalties for a total of 75 yards in the contest against Richmond. 

The Wildcats will need to bring those numbers down on Saturday if Villanova hopes to come away with the critical victory. 

Saturday’s season finale against James Madison kicks off at noon and can be seen on the Comcast SportsNet.