Football returns home for must-win against Maine



Pat Ralph

After two straight road games, the Wildcats return home this Saturday night for a Halloween showdown against CAA foe Maine at 7:30 at Villanova Stadium. Standing at 3-4 overall and 2-2 in conference play, Villanova is in a must-win situation to keep their post-season hopes alive.

From the loss of senior quarterback John Robertson to the historic defeat against Penn, a once promising 2015 season has been unkind to the Wildcats. But Saturday night’s game gives Villanova the opportunity to build momentum as it enters the final month of the regular season. 

The Wildcats are coming off a tough 28-21 loss at Towson this past Saturday in which the Tigers scored 26 points off of Villanova turnovers. Redshirt freshman quarterback Zach Bednarczyk, who has stepped in nicely for Robertson, had two interceptions returned for touchdowns by Towson in the game. 

First and foremost, eliminating turnovers will be the primary key to the Wildcats winning on Saturday. Playing smart, efficient football will be necessary if Villanova wants to get back to its winning ways. Take out the interceptions returned for touchdowns, and Villanova probably goes on to win at Towson. But when a team beats itself in football like Villanova did last weekend, a win isn’t going to be in the cards. 

A positive to take into the Maine game from the Towson game is the ability of Villanova’s offense to stay on the field and work long drives to wear down an opponent’s defense. The Wildcats’ offense had possession of the ball for 36 minutes and ran over 80 plays in the contest, giving its defense the opportunity to stay fresh and ready. And the defense has responded well, having allowed a combined total of 14 points in its last two games. 

While the offense only put up 14 points in the Towson game last weekend, it continues to show signs of improvement. The offense surpassed 400 total yards for a second straight week after being held below 400 yards in each of its first five contests of the season. 

Another plus has been the fact that both the running and passing attacks seem to be clicking on all cylinders now. 

Despite his two interceptions, Bednarczyk threw touchdowns for 245 passing yards in the contest. Senior running back Gary Underwood and senior wide receiver Kevin Gulyas had the two touchdown receptions in the game. 

On the ground, the Wildcats rushed for 176 yards against Towson with sophomore running back Matt Gudzak leading the way with nearly 100 rushing yards and a touchdown. Villanova will need to continue this strong, balanced offensive attack if it hopes to win on Saturday night against Maine. 

If the Wildcats can limit turnovers and continue their balanced offensive attack, Villanova could secure a much-needed Halloween win against the Black Bears of Maine.

On the other side of the field, Maine enters with a 3-4 overall record but has performed well in the CAA. Maine is 3-1 in the conference so far with wins over Rhode Island, Albany, and, most recently, a 23-10 home victory over Stony Brook this past Saturday.

Any Wildcat fans who are unable to make it to the stadium  Saturday night can watch the game on the NBC Sports Network.