Football aims to extend win streak against Quakers

Eugene Rapay

It currently sits at 103 and counting, with the Wildcats looking to make it 104 on Thursday night when they face the Penn Quakers.  104? The Wildcats can potentially make it 104 years without losing to the Quakers with a win on Thursday. The winning streak is a marvel in itself.  Penn has not tasted victory over Villanova since 1911. 

At that point in time, the Titanic was still deemed unsinkable and nations around the world were at peace, unaware of the Great War that would occur a few years later.  Based on these historic trends, it’s safe to pencil Villanova in for another win over Penn.  However, Penn won’t go down quietly, not if its quarterback Alek Torgersen can help it. 

Last year, in his first season as a starter, Torgersen finished on a number of top 10 lists for school passing records. He set records for pass attempts in a season, along with most completions and pass attempts in a single game.  As a sophomore he completed 61.8 percent of his passes for 2,689 yards and 14 touchdowns with 11 interceptions.

This year, Torgersen is looking to build on what he started last season.  Despite losing 42-21 to Lehigh in the Quakers’ season opener, Torgersen’s performance gave Penn fans a lot of hope moving forward. 

The junior quarterback finished with 336 yards and two passing touchdowns. He completed 30-of-42 pass attempts and showed that he can go deep if needed, completing a 45-yard touchdown pass to receiver Christian Pearson.  His one blemish on the day was a fourth quarter interception. Other than that, it was a solid performance for Torgersen. 

He received a great amount of support from Penn’s tandem of sophomore studs, running back Tre Solomon and wide receiver Justin Watson.  Solomon and Watson led the team in rushing and receiving, respectively. 

Solomon spent most of his freshman season sidelined with a knee injury. Since then, he has recovered and posted a strong performance, rushing for 90 yards off of 11 carries.  Watson appears to be Torgersen’s top target after a record-breaking freshman season.  

He broke Penn’s freshman receiving records for receptions and receiving yards. Watson showed promise last year, reeling in 42 catches for 497 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  He started the season well, racking up a game-high 143 yards in the game against Lehigh. 

While Penn may have all this offensive firepower, its weakness lies within its defense.  The Quakers gave up just under 500 total yards of offense and 42 points to Lehigh. Penn was hit with a balanced rushing and passing attack and was unable to keep up.  Despite a weak defensive effort, sophomore linebacker Colton Moskal gave Quakers’ coaches something to smile about.  It seemed like he got involved on a majority of the plays on defense. Moskal was physical, tying a game-high 11 tackles.

For the Wildcats to notch another win over the Quakers, they will need a strong offensive game.  The defense has come up big when called upon. Outside of a few mistakes against UConn, it held the Huskies to 20 points. Against Fordham, star running back Chase Edmonds was contained, and the Rams only scored seven points. Most recently, against Delaware, it was able to settle down late in the fourth quarter to get a much needed stop.

It’s clear that Penn’s defense isn’t the strongest part of its game. Whether Villanova runs or passes the ball, it won’t matter, just as long as it moves the ball forward.  

The Wildcats suffered a huge loss in John Robertson, who is out with a PCL injury. Villanova will look to Zack Bednarczyk once again for an answer.  He answered the call against Delaware, putting together two scoring drives to lead the Wildcats to victory in a comeback effort.  Bednarczyk went 4-for-6 for 57 yards and a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. He also supplied the go-ahead score off of a 21-yard touchdown scamper.

With Robertson out, Bednarczyk will have to be ready for his first career start.  Although a small sample size in looking at what he did against Delaware, he seems prepared to take on the role of a starter.  The Wildcats went through three straight weeks of tough opponents; they should be able to breathe easy this week.  Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.