Robertson propels ’Cats to clutch victory

Pat Ralph

The football team has had some pretty easy victories so far this season to propel it to its No. 5 overall ranking in the country. 

However, that was not the case this past Saturday, as the Wildcats drove 69 yards in less than a minute with no timeouts left to capture a 35-31 conference road win over No. 15 William & Mary. 

The win improved the ’Cats to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in conference, while the loss dropped William & Mary to 4-3 overall and 1-2 in conference. Saturday’s win was Villanova’s eighth in its last 10 matchups with William & Mary.

Saturday’s win for the Wildcats showed us not only why junior quarterback John Robertson is the best player on this team, but also why Robertson is the leader of this squad. 

Robertson’s had his fair share of outstanding individual performances, but Saturday’s game required the all-American to rally the ’Cats late with their backs against the wall in hostile territory.

Robertson’s touchdown pass to fellow junior wide receiver Kevin Gulyas with just 52 seconds remaining in the contest capped a fantastic game-winning drive that sealed the win for the Wildcats. 

Robertson finished the day 20-of-32 for 267 yards and two touchdowns. Robertson also showed his mobility prowess in the contest, as the junior rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown on the day.     

After the game, Head Coach Andy Talley was quick to note of Robertson’s excellent performance.

“Robertson’s performance on the final drive was sensational and showed why he is an elite player,” Talley said.

The recipient of Robertson’s other touchdown pass was senior tailback Kevin Monangai, who caught the five-yard scoring pass on the opening drive of the day for the Wildcats. Monangai had a big day as well this past Saturday, as the senior ran for 78 total yards and a touchdown, in addition to the scoring pass he caught from Robertson. 

A recurring theme of the Wildcats’ explosive offense this season has been the wide distribution of production from a variety of playmakers. Robertson completed passes to eight different receivers in the contest, including four passes for 77 yards with to wideout Poppy Livers. 

This past Saturday’s game was not the best for the Wildcats’ strong defense, but it played well enough to pick up the victory. 

Once again, junior linebacker Don Cherry was at the heart of Villanova’s defensive performance, totaling a career-high 16 tackles and forcing a fumble in the game. Along with Cherry, senior safety Joe Sarnese and junior linebacker Dillon Lucas also finished in double figures in tackles, as Sarnese totaled up 11 tackles and Lucas with 10 of his own. 

However, the defense made its most important plays of the day when it stopped William & Mary from scoring in the final minute to hold on for their sixth straight win. 

Even though William & Mary lost, they put in an arguably stronger performance offensively than the Wildcats. 

William & Mary finished with 518 total yards in the contest compared to Villanova’s 444 total yards. Saturday’s game was only the second time this season that Villanova’s defense allowed its opponent at least 500 total yards in the contest. The only other time that happened this season was in the Wildcats’ 49-31 home win over conference foe James Madison. 

William & Mary sophomore quarterback Steve Cluley had a strong performance in the contest, completing 21-of-32 passes for 350 yards and three touchdowns. 

Senior wide receiver Tre McBride exposed the Wildcats’ defense all afternoon, catching 11 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns. 

On the ground, junior tailback Mikal Abdul-Saboor was the leading rusher with 83 yards, while sophomore running back Kendall Anderson had a touchdown in the game.  

Moving forward, the Wildcats will return home this weekend for their annual Homecoming weekend contest against Morgan State at 3:30 p.m. in front of what should be a packed crowd at Villanova Stadium this Saturday afternoon. 

While the Wildcats are the favorites coming into Saturday’s contest, the defense will need to step up and get back to its dominant ways.