The Villanova Wildcats were able to claw out a 28-21 victory over the Delaware Blue Hens on the late game heroics by red-shirt freshman quarterback Zack Bednarczyk. The win comes at a cost though as quaterback John Robertson suffered an apparent posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injury late in the game according to Head Coach Andy Talley. Robertson had 208 yards and a touchdown through the air, as well as 23 yards and a second score on the ground before going down untouched in the 4th Quarter. Robertson will have an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of the injury, but is expected to miss at least Thursday's game against Penn.
Bednarczyk wasn't phased by the big moment, saying "I wasn't thinking anything. I just grabbed my helmet and ran on the field, and just looked for the signal." He went on to say, "I wasn't really that nervous because everyone was just saying 'we got you, we got you'." The red shirt rookie showed incredible poise and vision, finishing with 57 yards and a touchdown passing, and added the rushing TD and 2-point conversion to put Nova up for good.
A major contributor to the success of both QB's was senior wide-out Kevin Gulyas, who tallied 152 yards and a score on the day. After the game, Gulyas said of the freshman QB "When John went down, there was no doubt in my mind that [Zach] would be able to step in and lead us to victory... there was no doubt in my mind that we were going to win."
Linebacker Don Cherry and the Defense played very well, especially the secondary. They held Delaware QB Joe Walker to only 94 yards passing and secured the game clinching interception. However, the team was flagged eight times for 70 yards which almost cost them the victory on multiple occasions.
Lost in the excitement of the victory was the clear lack of trust Coach Talley has in his kickers. Even when it would have been the "smart" play, he refused to attempt a field goal on multiple 4th downs throughout the game. He was proven right when kicker Steve Weyler missed an extra point that would have tied the game late in the 4th Quarter. This problem needs to be addressed soon for the Wildcats to continue winning this season.
Robertson wasn't the only significant injury to Villanova, as they lost a pair of starting offensive tackles in Brad Seaton and Ethan Greenidge. Coach Andy Talley was forced to send in Jake Prus (just one week removed from donating bone marrow and only cleared to play Thursday) and move tight end Doug Turrell to tackle. These injuries become even more significant as Villanova faces cross-town rival Penn in just five days.
Delaware also sustained a significant injury when leading rusher Jalen Randolph went down in the 3rd Quarter. Head Coach Dave Brock said after the game that Randolph, who lead all players with 84 rushing yards and a touchdown, would miss at least a week to the undisclosed injury.
Villanova's next game is in just five days as Penn comes to Villanova stadium on September 24th at 7PM.
Star quarterback John Robertson didn't waste time against rival Delaware, hitting wide receiver Kevin Gulyas for at 70 yard completion on the first play from scrimmage. Robertson would finish off the drive himself, running it in from the 6 yard line on 4th and 4 to score the first touchdown at Villanova Stadium this season.
Delaware would start quickly as well, starting with a short field off a Ray Jones kick return. Jalen Randolph was able to establish a strong rushing game on their first possession and throughout the first half, driving deep into the Vilanova side of the field. However, Malik Reaves and a strong showing form the Villanova pass defense were able to hold the Blue Hens to a field goal.
Penalties became a problem for the cats early on, as a 3 and out and an unsportsmanlike penalty resulted in a short field for Delaware. Randolph was too much to handle this time, as he capped a 40 yard drive with a touchdown, giving the Blue Hens a 10-7 lead with 4:59 left in the 1st Quarter.
A stingy Delaware run defense continually had Villanova in 2nd or 3rd and long situations, but Robertson was up to the challenge. He went right back to work evading sacks, converting on 3rd and 4th downs. Running back Gary Underwood also contributed as both a ball carrier and pass catcher, securing a 1st and goal for Villanova at the 9 yard line. The combination finished off the drive as Robertson hit Underwood with a shuttle pass to go back up 10-14 to start the 2nd Quarter.
Linebacker Don Cherry and the defense stepped up their efforts in the 2nd Quarter, forcing them into three consecutive punts. Along with a more effective penetration at the line against the run they continuing to put pressure on quarterback Joe Walker, whose day was plagued early with over-throws, and missed opportunities. Among those was a fumbled fair catch by Jarrett McClenton at the Wildcat 35 that the Blue Hens recovered, but proceeded to go 3 and out.
Delaware was finally able to get a drive going after forcing Villanova to punt in the final minutes of the first quarter. Capitalizing on the rushing of Walker and Randolph, they were able to advance into Nova territory with under a minute left to play and no timeouts. After a 12 yard rush by walker, Delaware was able to rush kicker Frank Raggo out onto the field, where he hit a 44-yard field goal as time expired. The teams went into the locker rooms with Villanova leading 13-14.
The Blue Hens got the ball back to start the second half and Randolph went right back to work, picking up a first down on his first 2nd half touch. Villanova's penalty woes continued as 3 flags moved Deleware into Villanova territory and negated a sack on 3rd and long. But the defense was still able to stand strong and Raggo uncharacteristically missed a 36-yard field goal.
Villnaova was not able to mount much more of an effort, especially after they lost both of their starting offensive tackles to injury. Tight End Doug Turrell stepped moved down to Tackle, but the difference was apparent. On the Blue Hens side, RB Jalen Randolph was noticeably absent for much of the 3rd quarter after a good start on the initial drive
The remainder of the quarter was a defensive stalemate, with both teams getting good pressure up front and executing tight coverage against the pass. Villanova's defensive effort was exceptional, and went into the 4th quarter maintaining a thing 13-14 lead.
The 4th Quarter started with a Delaware drive that featured Joe Walker as a rusher. He converted a 3rd and 1, as well as a 3rd and 11. Running back Thomas Jefferson was finally able to break free on a 23 yard rush to the left, and wide receiver Diante Cherry converted the 2-point conversion on a reverse to put Delaware up 21-14 with 10:58 left in the game.
Robertson came out firing on the next drive, connecting twice with favorite receiver Gulyas. He then converted with his legs on 3rd and long, aided by a 15 yard penalty on Deleware at the end of the run. On 4th and 1 at the Delaware 14, Robertson again took it himself and picked up 2 yards for the first down.
But two plays later, disaster struck as Robertson went down untouched on a designed run play. He was able to walk off the field un-assissted, but was clearly favoring his ankle.
Back-up quarterback Zack Bednarczyk stepped into the game, and after an incomplete pass was facing 4th and 4. The Freshman came up big as he hit Gulyas on a crossing pattern for a touchdown with over 6 minutes left in the game. But kicker Steve Weyler was unable to convert the extra point attempt, and the Wildcats still trailed 21-20
Needing a stop, Villanova's defense again came up with a huge 3 and out as linebacker Austin Calitro got to Walker behind the line on 3rd and 3. McClenton was able to put together a 10 yard return, setting Villanova up at their own 27.
Bednarczyk continued to step up, using the play action to set up a 34-yard pass play on the first play of the drive. That aerial assault continued with a 22 yard gain deep to wide receiver Aaron Wells. And just when you thought he was just a pocket passer, the freshman escaped the pass rush and ran the ball in for a 21 yard rushing touchdown. After a flag on the first attempt, Bednarczyk kept it himself and ran it in for the 2-point conversion putting Villanova up 21-28.
Delaware attempted to mount a comeback of their own, converting on 3rd and then 4th down as they tried to get the ball past mid-field. But a huge sack for 10 yards by Don Cherry put the Blue Hens in a 3rd and 21 with no time outs left. Walker was sacked again on 3rd down by. On 4th and 27, Walker's desperation pass was intercepted by safety Wes Smith, and Villanova was able to take a knee to win the game.
Additional Quotes and Notes
- "I'm sick that John got hurt. It's terrible. He's an elite player you know, and from everything I know an elite person." - Delaware Coach Dave Brock on John Robertson's injury
- "I guess the only thing I can say with any clarity is that it was a typical Villnoava-Delaware game, wire to wire." - Coach Andy Talley
- Punter John Hitchen had a very good day, highlighted by a 61 yard punt that was critical in the battle for field position.
- When the Delaware passing game was working, it was mainly thanks to wide receiver Diante Cherry who had 8 catches for 78 yards.
- By the end of the 1st Quarter, it was clear that Head Coach Andy Tally wasn't going to trust the kicking game with anything more than kick-offs and extra points.
- John Robertson left the game in the 4th quarter and after being checked out on the sidelines was taken back to the locker room. He returned to the sidelines later in the game with his right knee wrapped in ice.