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Villanova coasts past Saint Francis 31-21 in FCS Playoffs

A big early lead made for a stress-free afternoon at Villanova Stadium.

NCAA Football: Villanova at Lafayette Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

The Andy Talley era isn’t over yet thanks to a dominant Wildcats performance Saturday afternoon at Villanova Stadium. Villanova jumped out to a 31-7 halftime lead and then managed the clock in the second half to secure a 31-21 win.

Villanova started strong after receiving the opening kickoff, sustaining a drive to the Saint Francis 6-yard line before stalling out. Gerard Smith made a 24-yard field goal to make it 3-0.

The ‘Nova defense kept the momentum going with a 3-and-out, and Bednarczyk and the offense quickly went to work to extend their lead. Aaron Forbes finished off a drive aided by a roughing the passer penalty with a 4-yard touchdown run.

The Red Flash struck quickly, hitting a 74-yard touchdown pass to make it 10-7. Villanova responded in kind to end a first quarter full of fireworks. The signal caller found one of his favorite targets in Ryan Bell for a 59-yard touchdown to put the ‘Cats back up 10, 17-7.

The second quarter sealed the deal for Villanova. First, Bednarczyk struck paydirt with another long pass - this time to Jarrett McClenton for 53 yards. After the ‘Nova defense turned Saint Francis away again the offense put together another long drive that resulted in Ryan Bell’s second touchdown catch of the day (2 yards) to put the ‘Cats up 31-7.

The third quarter saw both offenses stall out repeatedly with no scoring action. Saint Francis got back on the board with a 78-yard interception return for a touchdown in the 4th quarter, and then punched in a late touchdown to make the score more respectable.

Next Saturday, the ‘Cats will travel to #8 seed South Dakota State. Kickoff appears to be set for 3pm ET.