‘Nova downs Dukes

Kyle Stephan

The Wildcats battled James Madison University at Villanova Stadium Saturday in a non-televised game

and came out with a much needed win over the Dukes, 14-7. In a game in which Coach Andy Talley had

to secure a win to keep pace in tight CAA standings, the resiliency of the Wildcats had to make him like

his chances in the Colonial Athletic Conference.

Déjà vu , however, resonated throughout the crowd, because another Hail Mary pass from JMU’s

quarterback decided this CAA affair. Two years ago in 2008, JMU QB Rodney Landers threw a Hail Mary

to beat Villanova as time expired to WR Bosco Williams.

At first homecoming 2010 began as a defensive struggle. But the turning point of the first half was

undoubtedly what punter Dominic Scarnecchia saw in Madison’s special teams formation that made him

want to fake the ensuing punt. Talley stated afterwards, “Going into the game our special teams coach

Clint Wiley said, ‘Do it on the first drive’. So when we had the opportunity to do it, he (Scarnecchia) read

it perfectly.”

After a sack for a three yard loss on QB Chris Whitney, Villanova faked the punt and Scarnecchia rushed

for 23 yards and extended the drive. After completing a 4th and 8 to Norman White, Whitney threw a

strike to White again for a seven yard touchdown.

The Wildcats were up 7-0 after a Yako extra point, and the Wildcat defense continued to momentum.

Led by Marquis Kirkland, who notched 10 tackles on the day, the Wildcats held JMU back to four plays

for negative seven yards.

Villanova’s Chris Whitney fired a bullet to Norman White on the following drive, and White just

reached the ball with his outstretched fingertips. Whitney hustled the offense and launched a 54-yard

Touchdown pass to Mikey Reynolds, catching JMU off guard. It would be the game leading touchdown,

as Villanova led 14-0 at the half.

Whitney completed 13 of 19 passes for 159 yards and 2 TDs on the day. After a career game at Maine

last week, Whitney’s offense followed with 209 yards rushing as well, led by rusher Angelo Babboro.

Whitney credits his offensive line, saying, “They gave me a ton of time throwing. Everyone knows it

starts up front. Like last week they proved to me, they did an unbelievable job this week.”

The real tension began in the second half, after the honoring of the 1985 Villanova Wildcat football

team, who returned to college football after the University closed its football program after the 1980


The Dukes offense came out firing, led by QB Drew Dudzik. The JMU rushing game picked up, and James

Madison running back Kavon Seaton rushed for a two yard Touchdown, which ended a drought of zero

touchdowns in the previous four games for JMU (six points in eight quarters).

The seesaw game continued back and forth as Villanova drove all the way to the six yard line, but after

Whitney was sacked, Yako missed a FG that could have sealed the game.

Coach Talley explained that, ” I don’t want to have to put myself in a position where I have to go for

something when I could have taken three and that would’ve sealed the game. So we need to continue to

work with him (Yako). “

Following a wonderful defensive stand, Coach Talley faced a pivotal decision and decided to go on

fourth down on the JMU 1 yard line. Whitney tried to sneak the ball into the endzone, but JMU met him

and stripped the ball, recovering possession on the 6 yard line. Talley commented: “I was concerned

about kicking a field goal and getting it blocked. Our QB said let’s go for it. I just felt like we could get a

half yard at the end. JMU is very tough defensively.”

The déjà vu enters here. One last drive for JMU was all it took two years ago in 2008. With 1:44 left to

play, Drew Dudzik completed passes to five different receivers, and on a fourth and 1, completed a 15

yard strike to WR Kerby Long.

Unbelievably, the time stopped at the Villanova 36 yard line. JMU had one last chance, just as they did

two years ago, to attempt a Hail Mary in the endzone to tie the game, and possibly win with a two point

conversion. But defensive back James Pitts intercepted the ball in the endzone as time expired.

Coach Mathews commented after the game that, “your just not going to beat anybody when they do

not turn the ball over, and they get called for two penalties.”

Villanova (5-2, 3-1 in the CAA) and James Madison (4-3, 1-3 in the CAA) both seem to be going in

opposite directions. With Delaware losing this weekend, the CAA Standings are beginning to even out

more for the Wildcats, who are accumulating conference wins and playing well without star Matt Szczur.

JMU has to win out if they want to make the CAA playoffs. Villanova takes on the Richmond Spiders next

Saturday at 12:00 p.m.