‘Cats ready to battle Rams

Joe DeNicholas

On Saturday, the No. 5 Villanova Wildcats (6-2, CAA 4-1) will head north on I-95 to play the University of Rhode Island Rams (3-5, CAA 2-3). The Rams are coming off a 30-20 come-from-behind win against the Towson Tigers.

Last week, in a matchup of the last two NCAA champions, the Wildcats decisively defeated the No. 14 Richmond Spiders 28-7. Over the last several weeks, the ‘Cats’ play has been characterized by an efficient running offense and a stingy defense.

Villanova on offense

Quarterback Chris Whitney led the charge for the Wildcats last week against Richmond, finishing 9 of 16 through the air for two touchdowns and 78 yards.

Junior wide receiver Norman White’s five-yard touchdown catch marked his fifth consecutive game with a touchdown, pushing his season total to six scores. Senior tight end Chris Farmer also got involved with a three-yard touchdown on a seven-play, 12-yard drive.

Villanova’s offense was dominating on the ground, finishing with 244 yards. It was the third consecutive game that the Wildcats rushed for over 200 yards. Whitney went for a game-high 116 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Of the 116 rushing yards, 103 came in the first quarter.

His rushing touchdown came on a 45-yard dash right down the middle. Senior running back Aaron Ball scored on a 27-yard touchdown run on 40 rushing yards. Senior Angelo Babbaro also finished with 40 yards on the ground. Whitney’s performance made him the leading rusher among quarterbacks in Villanova history. He also moved to ninth place overall with 1,902 career rushing yards.

Rhode Island on offense

After trailing 10-7 in the second quarter, the Rams offense put together 20 straight points to hand the Tigers their sixth straight loss. Quarterback Steve Probst was 13 of 23 for 182 yards and a touchdown. Probst, who added 57 rushing yards, found seven different throwing targets on the day.

Wide out Joe Migliarese’s four-yard touchdown catch gave the Rams a seven-point lead they would never relinquish.

It was Migliarese’s first touchdown of the year. Sophomore running back Ayo Isijola ran for two touchdowns. Rhode Island was effective offensively despite being penalized 11 times for 108 yards. Louis Feinstein added nine more points on three field goals, including one from 38 yards out.

Villanova on defense

The Wildcats’ defense was equally as impressive as their offense. The ‘Cats surrendered only 59 rushing yards on 40 carries against Richmond.

The Wildcats’ defense recovered two fumbles and caught two interceptions. Their most impressive feat came in the second quarter when Villanova held the Spiders on a first and goal on the one-yard line. Two of linebacker Marquis Kirkland’s 11 tackles came on the goal line stand. Villanova has allowed zero or one touchdown in five of their last eight games.

Defense led to offense as senior safety John Dempsey recovered a batted down lateral pass attempt. He dashed 32 yards before being brought down on the Richmond 12. Dempsey also added five tackles on the day.

Rhode Island on defense

The Rams’ defense was led by junior Matt Sheard who finished with two sacks and a forced fumble. Senior linebacker Matt Hansen and junior safety Chris Edmond added nine tackles a piece.

The defense forced a season-high four turnovers, which helped boost the Rams to their first road win of the season. URI was able to score 17 points off of its four forced turnovers.


The Wildcats have found an offensive groove despite the absence of senior All-American Matt Szczur. Villanova’s lock down defense has made the opposition earn every yard.

Look for the ‘Cats to continue to roll against an average Rhode Island squad.