Despite a slow start, the Villanova Wildcats found their pace and scored 42 points in a much-needed bounce-back win against Towson. With scouts in the house from four NFL teams, John Robertson accounted for four touchdowns, with 107 yards on the ground and 182 via the air. He went 16-of-21 passing, for an efficiency of 76.2%.
"He's one of the most elusive football players at this level, in the country," Towson coach Rob Ambrose said of Robertson. Despite his elusiveness on the run, he was sacked four times.
"I told John before the game that he needed to take absolute control of this game in order for us to win it, and he did, he reigned supreme," Villanova's head coach Andy Talley said. "He ran the ball with great gusto and threw the ball well."
The Villanova quarterback was playing his first game since the soft cast came off of his non-throwing hand.
"I got to stiff-arm someone for the first time, I was a little nervous at first but it felt awesome," he said.
Though Towson scored quickly, they led only for 8 minutes in the game, with the 'Cats tying things up at seven with 4:12 left in the first quarter. They would pile 14 more points on in the second quarter and another 21 in the fourth, to win 42-14.
"It was really a tough game, they are really a big, physical team. I mean, they made us really, really work for what we got," Talley said. "I was very happy to win this game. Coming off the Richmond game it was really important to play really well on both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively, rather than the way we did last week, just on the defensive side of the ball."
"We did bend a little bit, but holding them to 14 points is a good thing."
Towson was held to 293 total yards of offense and just 111 yards in the air. Of their 182 rushing yards, 165 were gained by running back Darius Victor, who picked them up in 6.3 yard chunks.
The Tigers turned a quick Villanova punt into a 56-yard, 55-second scoring drive, with Victor breaking off a big running play before punching it in for a an easy 2-yard score. The teams traded punts on their next-two possessions before the 'Cats took possession again with 7:29 left in the quarter and proceeded to march downfield from their own 18-yard line. After eight plays and 82 yards, the 'Cats knotted the game up at seven with a short Austin Medley run.
Medley was the team's second-leading rusher on the night collecting 78 yards on an average of 6.5 per play.
"Once our offensive line gets going, its really hard to stop them," Medley said. "Our wide receivers on the edge set the perimeter for us, so once we got it going -- John [Robertson] throwing the ball, him breaking out and getting first downs for us, it's hard for them to key on one guy."
In the second quarter, John Robertson led a 10-play, 77-yard drive with his arm, completing passes to Aaron Wells, Poppy Livers, Kevin Gulyas and Anthony DeCamillo along the way. Even after losing nine yards when Towson's Jordan Mynatt wrapped him up in the backfield, he bounced back with a 17-yard touchdown throw to DeCamillo -- the receiver's first score as a college player.
On the 'Cats next series, they ran nine more plays for 64 yards, with Robertson, Medley and Monangai running most of the way. It was capped with another 17-yard pass from Robertson to Kevin Gulyas.
After Wildcats' corner Jason Ceneus grabbed an interception with 44-seconds remaining in the half that seemed to be thrown right to him, the 'Cats would head into halftime leading 21-7.
Since the Wildcats opted to receive the opening kickoff, the Tigers got the ball back to start the third quarter. In a Victor-heavy drive, Towson ran 16 plays for 83 yards and ate up 8:36 off the clock before quarterback Connor Frazier found receiver Tanner Vallely in the endzone for a 5-yard touchdown -- catching Villanova off-guard on a beautifully-executed play-action fake.
That drive didn't leave the Wildcats much time to work with in the third quarter. At the end of the quarter, the 'Cats had driven down to the Towson 1 yard line, and failed on their first two attempts to run it in, handing off to Monangai and Medley on consecutive plays. Robertson kept it himself on third down and managed to turn the corner on the Towson defense to give the Wildcats' lead some breathing room.
Three plays later, Frazier tossed his second interception of the game -- this time it was Joe Sarnese who grabbed a tipped ball. The Villanova safety took advantage of a few good blocks while darting down the right sideline for the 48-yard pick-six score.
With the Wildcats taking a 35-14 lead, and holding all of the momentum, the Tigers couldn't do much else in the game.
Taking over again with 12:03 on the clock, the 'Cats reeled off a clock-destroying eight-and-a-half-minute drive. Towson might have stopped them, with the Wildcats going for it on 4th down twice in the series. On 4th and 1 from the Towson 14, the 'Cats handed the ball off to Medley for a 2 yard gain, and then after a penalty had the 'Cats looking at 4th and 12 from the Towson 14 four plays later, Robertson calmly found Kevin Monangai for the 14-yard score.
There were very few hitches in the kicking game. No extra points were missed, but the 'Cats were still hesitant to really test the kicker. Things haven't been going well in that department this season, which may be their worst ever.
"All in all, our kicking game held up well," Talley said.
"I'm really trying to keep the kicker out of harms way this year," Talley noted. "I'm pretty much set my sights on anything 4th-[and short], I'd rather have it in the hands of an All-American quarterback than a freshman kicker who is still figuring it out. He's coming along, he's getting better, but unless I'm in the middle of the field and it's an easy one, I'm probably not going to [kick a field goal].
"No, I think this has been a thrill ride with these dudes. Last week, we had a dropped punt by our punter, we had a fumble by our punt returner (because one of our kids was blocked into him), we kicked the kickoff out of bounds after we scored, and we kicked the kickoff out of bounds. I've never had four things go wrong in a game in the kicking game like that. We're flirting with danger and we work hard on it."
Poppy Livers didn't score a touchdown, but led all receivers with 78 yards, including one long catch of 22 yards. Robertson hit six different receivers in the game, most more than once.