After a couple of scoreless games, the Wildcats were bound to eventually find the end zone again—and maybe even break a four-game losing streak.
Once Villanova finally found paydirt thanks to an Aaron Forbes 19-yard rushing touchdown midway through the first quarter, the Wildcats couldn’t stop there.
The Wildcats were able to get to the end zone in nearly every possible way. They scored on the ground, up above through the air, and even on defense. Richmond was overwhelmed on both sides of the ball, as the Wildcats went on to win in dominating fashion, spoiling the Spiders’ homecoming, 45-21.
Villanova was finally able to obtain that elusive win and left very little doubt along the way.
It helped having a few big performances from Forbes, Nowoola Awopetu, and Christian Benford.
Forbes enjoyed a career-high performance on the ground, setting the tone for the Wildcat offense against a team that was prone to giving up big plays on the ground. He ran for a personal-best 160 yards off of 20 carries. Entering Saturday’s game, he only needed 71 more rushing yards to reach a career milestone 2,000. The senior running back was very well able to eclipse that mark, becoming the 11th player to achieve such a feat in program history.
However, it was a complete game for Villanova, which also had big playmakers on the other side of the ball. On defense, Awopetu became the first ever Villanovan to record two pick-sixes in a single game.
With Richmond creeping back into the game after scoring an opening drive touchdown to start the second half, making it 20-14 in Villanova’s favor, Awopetu singlehandedly put the game out of reach and crushed the Spiders’ chances of gaining momentum. He was able to intercept the Spiders twice in the final minute of the third quarter and return both passes for touchdowns.
He wasn’t the only defensive back thriving on defense, as Benford also impressed. The talented freshman reeled in three interceptions in the game.
All in all, it was a rough outing for Richmond’s quarterbacks. The swarming Wildcat defense held all four quarterbacks to a combined 15-of-29 performance. Richmond was able to get 191 passing yards, with three touchdowns, but had five interceptions altogether.
Meanwhile, Villanova freshman quarterback Qadir Ismail was able to have a nice learning experience. While he did have one interception, he was able to snag his first touchdown pass as a Wildcat. In the closing minutes of the first half, he found Jarrett McClenton for a 15-yard touchdown, giving Villanova a 20-7 lead at the break.
With Zach Bednarczyk out, Ismail got to see some extended time. He completed 8-of-17 passes for 132 yards.
It was also a milestone moment for another Wildcat freshman, as Jalen Jackson was able to find the end zone for the first time ever—and was able to do so in his home state.
The game was a much-needed result for the Wildcats, who were able to come back to their winning ways, but also do so with an effective, balanced attack. Villanova outgained Richmond, 427-335, with 257 of those yards coming on the ground.
Next week, the Wildcats will return home for their final home game of the season. They’ll celebrate Senior Day, as they host the William and Mary Tribe. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10.