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Villanova vs. Fordham recap: Wildcats dominant after lightning delay

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Lightning strikes caused a delay of over an hour, but the Wildcats came out of the break stronger than before. The 'Cats won 50-6.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Wildcats got out to an early start with a 20-yard John Robertson run to score late in the first quarter. Fordham answered about two minutes later by kicking a 31-yard field goal. The score would stay that way through the start of the second quarter, when a lightning strike near the stadium forced officials to pause the game and ask fans to seek shelter in their cars.

The game, which kicked off at 3:30pm, resumed closer to 6:00pm, when the weather calmed down sufficiently to ensure safety. That was when the Wildcats turned up their amps to 11, scoring 26 points unanswered after the re-start.

Quarterback Robertson looked good through the air for the Wildcats, hitting Austin Medley once and Poppy Livers twice. The 'Cats also benefited from two interceptions, one returned by defensive end Austin Calitro for a 35-yard score. The other interception was grabbed by safety Cameron McCurry, and returned 32 yards, setting up the offense for a drive from the Villanova 39 -- and the second Livers score.

The story of the first half, however, was the kicking game. New starter Steve Weyler missed a 35-yard attempt on the 'Cats first possession, and then missed two consecutive extra points in the second quarter. Chris Gough returned to placekicking duties after the second missed PAT, and proceeded to go perfect on extra-points and field goals.

The Wildcats went into half-time with a 33-to-6 lead over Fordham, and came out of the break with domination in their minds.

Having opted to receive the ball to start the second half at the coin toss, Villanova launched a nearly-five-minute drive from their own 23. Running the clock down with the four-headed monster of Austin Medley (19 yards, 3 plays on the drive), John Robertson (27 yards, 2 plays), Gary Underwood (41 yards, 4 plays) and Kevin Monangai (18 yards, 3 plays). Underwood was ultimately handed the ball on the Fordham 1-yard line to put the 'Cats up by 37 points with a little over 10 minutes left in the third quarter.

Back-up quarterback Chris Polony came in for the Wildcats next possession, after Fordham went three-and-out, and ran five plays before the 'Cats were forced to punt for the first time (and only) of the game with about 5 minutes left in the third-quarter.

Near the end of the third quarter, Fordham finally got their break when Poppy Livers fumbled a punt, giving the Rams a new life from the Villanova 30 yard line. With Peter Maetzold taking the snaps, they drive down to the Villanova 9 yard line before a penalty pushed them back to the 21, and an incomplete pass made it 4th and 13, with the Rams surprisingly opting to kick a 38-yarder to make it a 40-6 Villanova lead.

With the 'Cats getting the ball back, Polony came out for another drive, running the ball 16 yards, then relying on handoffs to Underwood and Medley to drive the team down the Fordham 5 yard line. A bad snap over Polony's head on 3rd and Goal pushed the 'Cats back to the 25-yard line, however, where Andy Talley called on Gough to line up for a 42-yard field goal attempt -- it was good, making it 43-6.

Fordham fell short on their next drive, missing the fourth-down conversion to hand the Wildcats the ball back at their own 34.

Now, Andy Talley sent in third-string quarterback Cody Pittman and deep back-up Matt Gudzak at running back, to take hand-offs. Gudzak ran a respectable five yards on his first attempt, then broke off a massive 61-yard sprint on 2nd-and-5, scoring another touchdown for the 'Cats. It was Gudzak's first career touchdown.

After that score, the Rams final drive saw them convert one third down, but ultimately punt the ball back to the 'Cats with 2:41 left in the game. Fred O'Connor ran the ball twice for 10 yards to run down the clock enough for the 'Cats to kneel the ball and end the game.

The Wildcats looked spectacular in every facet of the game. The defense held the Rams to negative rushing yardage through the first half and a ways into the third before Kendall Pearcey's 49 yards helped to put them back in the black. They held freshman Chase Edmonds, who had almost 200 yards in week-one, to negative-five. The 'Cats gave up 200 yards in the air, mostly to Nebrich (182), but two big interceptions helped to mitigate any damage.

Robertson was excellent in the game, completing 17 of 24 passes (71%) for 216 yards and 3 touchdowns, adding another 61 yards and 1 score on the ground. Underwood also came up big gaining 75  yards on 8 carries with a score for the 'Cats.

Livers may have had the best day on offense, however, gaining 110 yards on 8 receptions and scoring twice. He was slow to get up after a diving for a ball that he didn't grab at the end of the first quarter and was helped off the field. He returned to the game eventually, after some work from the trainers, and caught both of his touchdowns after the injury.

Villanova will take next weekend off. They return to action on September 20th, when they will host James Madison at Villanova Stadium. After a dominating performance over a top-10 Fordham team, the 'Cats look poised for a big season as they dig in for the CAA gauntlet.