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Villanova Football game recap: No. 18 Wildcats outlast No. 5 Towson in 52-45 overtime victory

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The Wildcats with a big statement in their first CAA game of the season.

NCAA Football: Villanova at Temple Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that featured a combined 97 points and over 1,000 yards of offense, there was no doubt that offensive firepower would be a huge factor, especially against an offensive-minded team like Towson.

The Wildcats showed that not only could it hang with the Tigers’ high-powered offense, but outduel them too. As important as it was to outscore their foes, the Wildcats needed their defense to deliver on one drive—the final one—and it did.

After scoring a touchdown to take the lead in overtime, the ‘Cats needed one stop. No. 18-ranked Villanova was able to hold on and deny No. 5 Towson on the road, outlasting the Tigers in a 52-45 overtime victory.

To call it a back-and-forth contest would be an understatement. It was a game that featured plenty of scoring drives, with seven lead changes and six ties, littered throughout an exciting set of four quarters and one overtime session.

Drew Kresge drilled a crucial 45-yard field goal to tie things up at 45, with 10 seconds remaining in regulation, to keep the Wildcats alive for overtime.

The Wildcats went first in overtime, and Justin Covington had a huge run to set the ‘Cats up just a few yards away from the end zone. On the following play, Villanova quarterback Daniel Smith ran it in on an option keeper to give the Wildcats the go-ahead score.

A pass interference call gave Towson the boost it needed, but the Villanova defense was able to settle in and regroup. On fourth-and-one at the Wildcats’ 7-yard line, Towson’s Tom Flacco sent the ball towards a diving Shane Leatherbury, who seemingly caught the ball to keep the drive alive. However, a referee had ruled it incomplete, because the ball had touched the ground while he tried to corral it. It was the decisive blow to end the game and give the Wildcats the upset victory over Towson.

The Wildcats improve to 4-0, their best start since the National Championship season in 2009. It was also Villanova’s first CAA game of the year, and the ‘Cats begin the conference slate with a great first impression.

It looked like the ‘Cats would breakaway in regulation, as they took a 42-28 lead early in the fourth quarter—thanks to a pair of Covington touchdowns. Towson just didn’t go away quietly, eventually tying it up and briefly taking the lead after scoring 17 unanswered points. For a team that has had its share of special teams mishaps, the clutch field goal by Kresge to keep the ‘Cats in the game was very much needed.

Smith had a hand in six of the Wildcats’ seven touchdowns. He completed 25-of-42 pass attempts for 279 yards and four passing touchdowns. He did have two interceptions, one of which was returned for a Towson touchdown to tie it up at 42. Smith also added seven carries for 70 yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns.

It was another big performance for Covington, who racked up 194 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. Freshman receiver Jaaron Hayek finished with six receptions for 108 yards and two touchdowns.

For Towson, Flacco completed 50 percent of his passes for 304 yards and a touchdown, with one interception. He also had 110 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground. Yeedee Thaenrat added three rushing touchdowns.

Villanova returns to action next Saturday, when it plays its first home CAA game against Maine. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. ET.