Football ready for ‘Battle of the Blue’



Frank Scicchitano

The Wildcats will open conference play on Saturday against the Blue Hens of Delaware.  After capturing its first win of the season against Fordham, Villanova now ranks third in the FCS Coaches’ Poll behind North Dakota State and top-ranked Coastal Carolina.

A tremendous defensive effort led ’Nova to the 14-7 victory in its last game.  Junior linebacker Austin Calitro recorded a team-high 10 tackles and senior linebacker Don Cherry added nine. As a unit, the Wildcats’ defense was able to contain Fordham running back Chase Edmonds, who was fourth in the nation in rushing last season, to just 74 yards.

After jumping ahead 14-0 early in the second quarter, Villanova’s offense was held scoreless for the remainder of the game.  They did manage to outgain Fordham 400-182, but the Wildcats had trouble putting points on the board at the end of their drives.

Junior running back Javon White was very effective on the ground against the Rams, tallying 143 yards on 23 carries.  His production complimented senior quarterback John Robertson and took some pressure off of the All-American during the Wildcats’ offensive possessions.

White will try to follow his career performance against a Delaware run defense that has only allowed 125 total yards on the ground in its first two games.  In last weekend’s 19-9 victory over Lafayette, the Blue Hens surrendered just 55 rushing yards while gaining 257 of their own.

Delaware’s potent rushing attack has used a variety of ball carriers this season including junior Wes Hills and sophomore Kareem Williams, who were the leading rushers in the Blue Hens’ first two games, respectively.  Freshman quarterback Joe Walker was also a threat on the ground against Lafayette, running for 68 yards and a touchdown.

In two games this season, eight different players have carried the ball a total of 95 times for Delaware while the team has attempted just 35 passes.  

Villanova’s front seven, led by Cherry and senior defensive lineman Reggie Paris, will be the key to slowing down Delaware’s versatile running game. Since the Blue Hens go to the air nearly three times less than they run the ball, seniors Cam McCurry and Matt McCann will be able to provide extra run support from the safety position.  

The last two meetings between these rivals were instant classics.  Last season, Robertson capped off a 73-yard game-winning drive with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Gulyas with just 23 seconds remaining.  In 2013, Villanova scored 23 unanswered points and completed a comeback victory on a 24-yard field goal by Mark Hamilton with just one second on the clock.

A win on Saturday would give the Wildcats’ seniors a career sweep of Delaware.  Kickoff at Villanova Stadium is scheduled for noon and will be broadcast live on Comcast SportsNet.