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Villanova blows huge halftime lead in 45-44 loss to SE Louisiana

That was painful, which is becoming a common theme.

NCAA Football: Villanova at Temple Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

That won’t be a fun ride home after Villanova blew a 3-score halftime lead to fall out of the playoffs to SE Louisiana, 45-44.

It all started so well, with Villanova getting a big stop on the opening drive of the game. Jalen Goodman broke up a pass on 4th-and-7 in Villanova territory. DeeWill Barlee and the offense put together a sustained drive and nearly had the Lions fooled on a fake field goal, but the Lions’ coaching staff was able to call timeout in time. Drew Kresge converted the ensuing 38-yard field goal for the early 3-0 lead.

SE Louisiana didn’t wait long to respond, with a blown call on a pick play getting them deep into Wildcats territory on a long completion to Bransen Schwebel. Devonte Williams took it in the very next play for a 7-3 Lions lead.

Villanova answered right back, with Daniel Smith hitting Todd Summers on a jump pass off a nice play fake for 10-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. Ola Adams’ defense delivered a massive play midway through the 2nd quarter. (RS) freshman Garrett Zobel logged a hit just as Cole Kelley was delivering a pass and freshman Elijah Glover picked it off and returned it 87 yards for a touchdown to extend the lead to 17-7.

A 3-and-out later, Daniel Smith was off to the races for a 53-yard touchdown. Even a late Lions score was answered right back by Villanova with Smith hitting Jaaron Hayek for a 57-yard hitch-and-go to hand the ‘Cats a 31-14 halftime lead.

The 3rd quarter was one to forget with the Lions scoring 17 unasnwered points to tie the game heading into the final period.

The Wildcats and Lions traded scores with Smith hitting Todd Summers again from a yard out, before finding Changa Hodge late on a 50-yard bomb. Kresge had the ensuing PAT blocked, only staking the ‘Cats a 6-point lead.

The Lions drove down the field courtesy of a huge passing play, but were stifled inside the Villanova 10-yard line. CJ Turner was able to haul in a pass on 4th and goal to give the Lions the lead again.

The game wouldn’t finish without controversy, with Smith seemingly hitting Hayek on a long pass for a touchdown with just about a minute left. The refs waved it off for offensive pass interference which replays showed was completely unjustified.

A phantom flag robbed Villanova of their season, but they’ll be kicking themselves for blowing yet another huge lead.