The Villanova Wildcats returned home after dominating Elon, and they continued their winning ways, beating the Rhode Island Rams 35-0. The defense was fantastic, shutting out the Rams and holding them to only 103 total yards. The offense ran wild once again, gaining 435 total yards.
The 'Cats defense held Rhode Island quarterback Jordan Vazzano to 75 yards on 14-30 passing. They also held the Rams strong rushing duo of Harold Cooper and T.J. Anderson to 10 and 33 yards respectively.
"We're all unselfish, we just have a job, and we all do it," senior linebacker Austin Calitro said in reference to the defense's success. "I think a lot of times if you put our film on you'll see eight, nine Villanova jerseys at the ball and you don't teach that, that just something we kind of instilled over the past three, four years, and if you don't have that drive, not [going to] hustle to the ball, you just won't play."
After a quick three and out by the Rams, the 'Cats went on a seven-play, 83-yard drive to give 'Nova a quick 7-0 lead. Senior running back Javon White led the drive with 35 rushing yards, capping it off with a touchdown from 16 yards out despite almost being stopped for a loss.
The Villanova defense forced another three and out, giving Zach Bednarczyk and the 'Cats offense a short field to work with. Only six plays later, Bednarczyk hit tight end Ryan Bell for a 36 yard touchdown pass, the first touchdown reception of the junior's career.
The 'Cats defense went another drive without allowing a first down and the Villanova offense took over at their own 33. Before the 1st quarter was out running back Aaron Forbes went 67 yards for a score and kicker Gerard Smith made his 3rd extra point of the game to give the 'Cats a 21-0 lead.
Villanova marched down the field in 5:18, taking ten plays to go 89 yards. Bednarczyk finished the drive off with an excellent fade to Taurus Phillips, his third touchdown reception of the season. Smith knocked in another extra point, and the Villanova lead was extended to 28-0.
Phillips caught three balls for 54 yards, including the touchdown. On the ground, four different Wildcats ran for over 50 yards. Aaron Forbes led the way with 90 rushing yards including a touchdown.
"I think that all three of us are really good running backs and we all learn from each other, especially me being the youngest one so I love being in a backfield with three guys who [could] play anywhere else. The rotation helps us all be fresh and we all bring a different aspect to our game, so I think that keep the defense on their toes," Forbes said when discussing the group of running backs.
Coach Andy Talley knows how lucky he is to have such a deep and successful group of running backs saying, "Three of our tailbacks could start for just about anybody in the league, I think. Our guys are pretty unselfish and I think that helps us in the way that we use them. We're very pleased with it. We're very fortunate to be healthy."
At halftime, Villanova was outgaining Rhode Island 323-44 yards. Also, the 'Cats rushed for 244 yards in the first half alone, compared to just eight for the Rams. Bednarczyk was perfect in the first half, going 5-5 for 79 yards and two touchdowns.
Bednarczyk was taken out in the middle of the third quarter, and finished 8-9 passing with 133 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran the ball eight times for a total of 59 yards.
Villanova got the ball to start the second half and they put together another ten-play drive. After going 75 yards down the field, Matt Gudzak pushed it in on his third attempt, and put the 'Cats up 35-0. Gudzak went for 64 yards on the ground in eight attempts.
The last time Villanova shutout an opponent was October 17th of last season, when they defeated Albany 37-0. "We work all week and we've had two games now where I think we could've had shutouts and we didn't get it," Calitro added. " I think shutting out a team means that's exactly what you did, you shut them out, and they really didn't have a chance to do anything [offensively]. I think you take pride in that as a defense knowing that they couldn't even get close to scoring."
Villanova travels to Richmond next Saturday and will take on the Spiders at 3:30PM.