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Cats Earn a Bye and A Date with Steven F. Austin after Beating #1 Delaware

Hero Martel Moody

Update: The #15 Cats received an at-large bid, and travel to the #5 Steven F. Austin Lumberjacks (9-2) on December 4. The Lumberjacks' two losses came on September 4 to Texas A&M (48-7) and on October 30 to Texas State (27-24). Steven F. Austin State University is located in Nacogdoches (please keep the jokes to yourself!), 170 miles southeast of Dallas.

Andy Tally’s #15 Wildcats (7-4, 5-3) entered yesterday’s game at #1 Delaware in a do-or-die scenario: lose and their season is over; win and they have a good shot at being one of the 20-teams selected for the FCS playoffs and an opportunity to defend their 2009 FCS title.

The Cats came out of the gate quickly, inspired by the return of their All-America, Matt Szczur, who had missed the prior six games with a high ankle sprain. The Cats scored a touchdown the first time they touched the ball, when Angelo Babbaro returned the opening kickoff 85 yards. The Cats scored their second touchdown five minutes later, when Chris Whitney connected with Lawrence Doss from four yards out. However, the Blue Hens owned the second quarter, knotting the score by halftime, 14-14.

After a scoreless third quarter, Chris Whitney put the Cats up 21-14 on an eight yard run early in the fourth. Delaware’s Pat Devlin answered, connecting with Andrew Pierce on a one yard pass to tie the score with 18 seconds to go, forcing overtime.

The Cats wasted no time in the extra period, getting the ball first and scoring on a one-yard run by Aaron Ball. That left the Blue Hens with one shot to tie. Delaware gave it a good run, driving deep into Villanova territory. However, the fickle finger of fate finally turned in ‘Nova’s favor after fumbles by Chris Whitney in the closing seconds of the Rhode Island and New Hampshire games ended possible game winning rallies. This time, Villanova’s Martel Moodie forced a fumble by Delaware’s Andrew Pierce and recovered the ball at Villanova’s two yard line, preserving the victory for the Cats.

Will a 7-4 record, punctuated by a win over the #1 team on the last game of the season, be enough to ensure a place for the Cats in the FCS playoffs? We’ll find out live on Sunday at 10 AM on ESPNU.

Press Coverage

Philadelphia Inquirer: Villanova beats Delaware; Will Likely Make the FCS Playoffs

Delco Times: Villanova Topples Top-Ranked Delaware to Keep Season Alive Wildcats Defeat No. 1 Delaware 28-21 in Overtime Thriller