The FCS No. 5-ranked Villanova Wildcats held off Stony Brook with a season-opening 16-13 victory on the road.
It was the first game for either team in over a year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the CAA to move its football season to March. It was the first of a shortened six-game slate for the ‘Cats.
While the score suggests a close game, Villanova was in control for most of the way. The Wildcats took a 13-0 halftime lead thanks to a one-yard touchdown by Jalen Jackson, followed by a 49-yard touchdown reception by Rayjoun Pringle from Daniel Smith.
The Seawolves couldn’t get their offense going until late. Stony Brook found paydirt late in the third quarter, after Tyquell Fields ran it in for a score from seven yards out to make it a 13-7 game.
After a Villanova field goal early in the fourth quarter, both teams traded empty-handed possessions until the Seawolves managed to block a Villanova punt deep in Wildcat territory. They promptly took advantage of the big special teams play and scored three plays later with a Jayden Cook touchdown. Cook’s scoring play made it 16-13, with under three minutes remaining.
Stony Brook was unsuccessful on the ensuing onside kick, and the ‘Cats ran the clock down to their first win of the 2021 season.
Villanova outgained Stony Brook, 404-243.
Smith completed 17-of-32 passes under center for the Wildcats. He piled up 253 yards and a touchdown. Most of the yardage went to Pringle, who enjoyed a breakout game. The sophomore wide receiver finished with a game-high 171 yards and a touchdown on nine receptions.
Jackson, DeeWil Barlee, TD Ayo-Durojaiye, Justin Covington helped the ‘Cats pick up 99 rushing yards on the ground.
For Stony Brook, Fields completed 14-of-26 passes for 143 yards and an interception. He also added 19 rushing yards and a touchdown on six carries. Jadon Turner had 65 yards on 10 rushing attempts. Khalil Newton and Delante Hellams Jr. led the aerial attack, combining for seven receptions and 89 yards.
The Wildcats return to action with their home opener next Saturday, at 1 p.m., when Rhode Island comes to the Main Line.