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Villanova snatches lead from Richmond late, wins 35-28

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The Wildcats break their three-game skid with a couple of fourth quarter touchdowns.

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

Villanova found itself stuck in the Spiders’ web, headed for another loss. Trailing by seven at halftime, the Wildcats scored the only second half points later in the fourth quarter.

Daniel Smith and T.D. Ayo-Durojaiye both scored in the fourth to give the ‘Cats the lead. From there, Villanova continued to hold off Richmond in the second half, hanging on for the 35-28 victory.

The win breaks a three-game Villanova losing streak, with the ‘Cats earning their first win in just over a month.

It was a back-and-forth game from opening kickoff, with Nowoola Awopetu returning the opening kick 100 yards for a Villanova touchdown. Richmond quickly responded with a five-play drive topped off by a Joe Mancuso 25-yard score on a quarterback keeper. Both teams traded touchdown drives and the lead all throughout the first half, but Richmond was in front at the break, 28-21.

In the second half, both teams adjusted and the offensive display curtailed itself for the rest of the game. There were a series of empty-handed drives, with a couple of turnovers sprinkled in.

Finally, Villanova broke the stalemate with an early fourth quarter touchdown from Smith, who ran it in from nine yards out. After the Wildcats forced a three-and-out, Smith completed a long 48-yard pass to Changa Hodge. The big gain set up the next play, when Ayo-Durojaiye broke free for a 20-yard run to get the go-ahead score.

The Spiders went three-and-out once again on the ensuing drive. They would never receive another chance on offense, as the Wildcats received the punt and kept possession of the ball for the final 7:20 of the game.

For Villanova, Smith completed 20-of-28 pass attempts for 235 yards. He also ran for 105 yards on the ground, with two rushing touchdowns. DeeWil Barlee added 114 yards and a score to the winning effort. Jaaron Hayek finished with seven receptions for 73 yards. Hodge had 95 yards off of five receptions.

As for Richmond, Mancuso completed 10-of-17 pass attempts for 114 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. He also had 89 yards and a pair of touchdowns off of 17 carries. Savon Smith ran for 79 yards on seven carries.

With the win, the Wildcats improve to 7-3 overall and 4-3 in conference play. They’ll resume action next Friday, on Nov. 15, when they take on newly minted Division I LIU Post. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. ET.