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Villanova vs. Morgan State recap: Wildcats overcome slow start to win 7th straight game

27 straight points third quarter helps the 'Cats improve to 7-1

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

With the Villanova Wildcats taking a tough road game against ranked William & Mary, a home game against the 4-3 Morgan State Bears seemed like an easier foe. That's not how it appeared in the first half, but a major offensive spark in the 3rd quarter gave the 'Cats the space they needed as they take this one 48-28.

On Villanova's first possession of the game, John Robertson took the first snap and ran it 56 yards for the touchdown. Robertson said after the game he saw the blitz formation and knew he could run up the middle. "We scripted that, actually. We knew they were going to try and zero blitz us- send everybody- and we had a check call to it. Our coaches knew what was gonna happen." Morgan State punted on their next possession but got it right back as Poppy Livers muffed it. They took over at the VU33 and Moses Skillon threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Martin.

Villanova's next drive ended on a turnover-on-downs; an incomplete pass to Livers. The 'Cats were 1-3 on fourth down conversions on the day. Coach Andy Talley commented after the game that he did not attempt a field goal because "we're not good enough right now to do that." He added: "At some point in time we will need a field goal to win the game. One loss at Syracuse was enough to make me feel like 'I'd rather have it in John Robertson's hands.'"

Villanova took the lead with 3:38 left in the first quarter on a 4-yard TD pass from Robertson to Doug Turrell.

Turrell would end the day with 2 catches for 33 total yards, and that TD. The 'Cats would take a 14-7 lead into the second quarter, however Skillon would march his team down the field and rush for a 3-yard TD to tie the game yet again. Villanova would respond with a 22-yard touchdown from Robertson to Kevin Gulyas.

The Wildcats would stop the Bears on their next possession with 1:59 left in the half looking to take a two score lead into halftime, however Livers would again muff a punt and Morgan State took over in the red zone. A 3-yard WR-reverse by Ricky Fisk tied the game at 21-21.

Penalties were a major setback for the 'Cats. At the half alone they had 6 for 55 yards, many of whom were offensive holding calls that brought back big runs. Robertson said that at halftime that  the team knew"penalties were the things that hurt us." The offensive line struggled as well, giving Robertson little time to pass or even scramble.

The third quarter told a different story for Villanova. Opting to defer the kick, the Wildcats would need less than four minutes to go 80-yards and cap off the drive with a Kevin Monangai 1-yard run. The Wildcats forced the Bears to punt on the next possession, but Pat Williams got a solid hand on it and Villanova took the ball seven yards from the end zone. Robertson took it himself for the TD and all of a sudden the Wildcats saw themselves leading 34-21, ultimately missing that extra point.

Morgan State tried to answer and stay in the game, but Jason Ceneus intercepted Skillon's pass and returned in to the Morgan State 25 yard line. That drive ended with a Robertson pass to Poppy Livers for 4 yards, as well as a made extra point. On the next Villanova possession Kevin Monangai ran up the middle for an 81-yard touchdown, capping a 27-0 third quarter run. That's all the space the 'Cats needed.

Kevin Monangai ended the day with what he called "videogame numbers" in 16 rushes for 170 yards and 2 TD's, while Robertson had 11 for a net 99 and 2 TD's. The duo roomed together freshman year and often talked about this eventually being "our team" and having days like this. It was a dream come true.

Runningback Gary Underwood suffered a sprained MCL, which Talley says will probably have him inactive for four weeks. Talley has a task at hand trying to replace what he says is "a multi-dimensional player." He added: "We have two running backs now in [Monangai] and Austin Medley, as well as a red-shirt freshman Javon White. I may have to take him out of red-shirt because if Kevin or Austin go down, I'm only playing with a freshman in Matt Gudzak, and Matt's not ready for prime time right now."

Villanova's next opponent is on the road at Richmond on November 1st. Opening kickoff is slated for 12:30pm.