‘Cats start conference play against Towson



Joe DeNicholas

With talk of a potential move up to the FBS buzzing nationwide over the past week, the Wildcats looked unfazed as they took care of business last weekend against Lehigh.

Villanova showed why it was worthy of a Big East Conference invitation by shutting out the Mountain Hawks 35-0 on the road. With the victory, the Wildcats are now winners of 10 in a row and 19-of-21 games against FCS opponents. University President Rev. Peter Donohue’s letter to the Villanova community has excited many about the future of Villanova football.

For now, however, the only thing that matters for Head Coach Andy Talley and his Wildcats is defending their FCS championship. On Saturday afternoon, the No. 2-ranked Wildcats will look to start Colonial Conference play with a win against the Towson Tigers.

Towson on offense

The Tigers offense came through in the clutch in their 47-45 five overtime win against Coastal Carolina. Trailing by 14, Towson was able to complete a gutsy comeback by scoring two fourth-quarter touchdowns in the team’s home opener. With the teams locked up 39-39 through four overtimes, transfer quarterback Chris Hart threw a 25-yard touchdown to senior wide receiver Hakeem Moore on the first play of the fifth overtime.

Hart then rushed for a two-point conversion to put his team up 47-39.

The Tigers put up 370 total yards of offense in what was the longest game in school history. The Tiger’s were led by Hart, who connected with Moore for two touchdowns, including the eventual game winner.

Moore averaged 35.3 yards per catch in the affair. Hart completed 13-of-21 attempts for 155 yards while throwing four touchdowns and one interception.

Hart carried the ball 22 times for 79 additional yards. Towson also received contributions from running back Tremayne Dameron who rushed 29 times for 107 yards and two touchdowns. The Tigers were decent on third-down efficiency, converting for nine first downs on 19 attempts.

Towson on defense

Towson depended on its defense to hold off Coastal Carolina. After giving up a touchdown in the fifth overtime, the game rested on the shoulders of the defense to hold off Coastal Carolina on a two-point conversion.

Sophomore safety Jordan Dangerfield came up big for the Tigers when he tipped away the potential game-tying toss.

Junior linebacker Chris Patterson led the charge for the Tiger defense amassing 12 tackles on the night.

Senior defensive tackle Yaky Ibia and senior linebacker Donte Blakey had 10 tackles apiece. While the Tigers gave up 45 points in the game, only 21 points were allowed in regulation.

Towson opened its season to FBS opponent Indiana who were able score 51 points in a landslide victory.

Villanova on offense

The ‘Cats were running on all cylinders against Lehigh, rushing for 330 yards led by seniors Aaron Ball, Angelo Babbaro and all-American Matt Szczur.

Szczur, the reigning CAA offensive player of the year, is as versatile as they come. As a proven receiver and Wildcat quarterback, Szczur is Villanova’s biggest weapon. Quarterback Chris Whitney is a threat both through the air and on the ground, adding versatility to Villanova’s attack.

With so many options up front, Talley has the luxury of spreading out the offense to keep the opposition guessing.

Villanova on defense

Last week Villanova held Lehigh to only 29 rushing yards. The defense gave up eight first downs and 215 yards of total offense. Senior safety Fred Maldonado finished with a team-high seven tackles while redshirt freshman defensive end Rakim Cox, sophomore strong safety Ronnie Akins and junior cornerback Kelvin Johnson each had an interception. Senior linebacker Terence Thomas, who was named CAA preseason defensive player of the year, anchors the Wildcat defense. Thomas will be looked upon to fill the void of defensive end Tim Kukucka and linebacker Osayi Osunde, who graduated in the spring. Over the first two weeks of the season, the Wildcats held Temple running back Bernard Pierce and the Mountain Hawks’ leading back Jay Campbell in check.


Expect Villanova to roll against Towson. The high level of play against Lehigh will certainly provide a boost for ‘Nova in the CAA home opener. As a veteran team that returns 15 of 22 starters from last year’s championship squad, the Towson Tigers will have a hard time finding a way to keep up with this edition of the Wildcats.

Villanova is simply too sound defensively to give up much and has a plethora of offensive threats. The Wildcats will have the added boost of a large home crowd in attendance for Parents’ Weekend.

Mom and Dad should make dinner reservations early on Saturday evening because this game should be over well before the halftime whistle.