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Villanova vs. Maine football recap: Wildcats outlast Black Bears in defensive battle

Red Zone defense bailed out the Wildcats time and time again

On a chilly Halloween night, the Maine Black Bears came into Villanova Stadium to get back at 0.500 on the year. The Villanova Wildcats looked to bounce back from their loss at Towson. The beginning of the game showcased the struggles of both squads, but the Wildcats prevailed to overtake the Black Bears 13-3.

Maine head coach Jack Cosgrove simply stated it was "not a good night."

Freshman Zach Bednarczyk took a late hit out of bounds on the first play of the game, giving the `Cats early momemtum. Zach kept his elusiveness for the rest of the drive. Senior defensive end Trevor Bates said Zach had success with his legs because of "missed execution." He added, "We missed a lot of tackles, we didn't do our jobs most of the time." RB Aaron Forbes fumbled deep in Maine territory, but the refs ruled him down by forward progress and the Wildcats kept the drive alive. It ended shortly after with the all-too-often missed field goal, this one from 31 yards out. The Villanova D stepped up big time and forced Maine to punt.

A little over halfway into the first quarter, Bednarcyzk scrambled and found Aaron Wells at midfield. He used a BIG stiff arm and broke two tackles to truck his way to a 64-yard touchdown. Villanova took a 6-0 lead after a missed extra point.

Later in the quarter, Maine punted from near midfield, but after review the refs deemed punter James DeMartini had his knee down and Villanova took over at the Maine 41. The `Cats tried to convert on 4th and 11 but Zach was sacked.

The second quarter was also relatively quiet for both sides offensively. A big tackle by Malik Reaves set up a 35-yd FG for the Black Bears, but they too could not convert. A late hit by Maine's Cabrinni Goncalves gave Villanova a first down on the Maine 34. Tensions were high as that was the third personal foul of the game after less than twenty minutes of play. `Nova attempted a 39-yard field goal to end that drive but it was wide left.

The teams were a combined 0-3 from field goals of 31, 35, and 39. No wind tonight, but the cold weather could be the reason for such kicking struggles. Coach Cosgrove summed it up as "just disappointing."

A 40 yard completion to Nigel Beckford helped set up a 27-yd field goal for Maine, and they were successful with 26 seconds left. The Wildcats took a 6-3 lead into the half.

Before the Beckford deep completion, `Nova dominated the offensive yard categories. After the first quarter, Maine only had 44 rushing yards and 5 pass yards, compared to Villanova's 120 and 66 respectively.

Maine looked a lot sharper on their first drive of the second half, but Shayne Jones jumped on a Belcher pass and intercepted it in the red zone. Villanova marched down the field on the drive off the turnover. A pass to Gary Underwood was overturned to an illegal forward pass, and Bednarcyzk gains only six yards on 4th and 7 from the Maine 20. The kicking issues come back to haunt on Halloween night.

Maine's next drive came to a stop after Tanoh Kpassagnon strip sacked Belcher and Reggie Paris recovered the fumble on the Maine 28. Villanova tries to push on a 4th and 1 from the Maine 18 and they could not reach the first down marker.


Lucky for Villanova, the Black Bears went three and out on the next drive and would enter the 4th quarter holding the 6-3 lead.

The first drive of the fourth quarter ended in a Wildcat touchdown when Bednarcyzk rushes 14 yards up the middle to the end zone. The extra point is GOOD and Villanova extended their lead to 13-3. Zach reached the 100-yd rush plateau for the first time in his career.

Maine responded quickly, using a Beckford 27 yard rush to get to the red zone yet again. However the tough red zone defense the Wildcats exhibited all game forced Maine to settle for a 27 yard field goal, which they missed.

On the missed red zone chances, Cosgrove said "We need to finish plays. Don't get me wrong, I respect the hell out of Villanova and their defense, however we need to make the field goals when they're lined up and make plays."

Coach Talley exalted his defense, saying "we won because of [them]."

Teams were now 1-5 on field goals combined, with Maine having the only make from 27 out. All misses came within 40 yards.

After a `Nova 3 and out, Belcher started Maine's next drive with a 43-yard bomb to Jordan Dunn. Maine also decided against the field goal and failed to convert on 4th down.

In the Wildcats' final drive of the game, Maine was able to stop Zach's QB keep on 3rd and 6 but a blow to the head gave Villanova the ball and inevitably ran out the clock. The Wildcats would hold on to win 13-3.