The Wildcats concluded their successful season on Saturday, pulling off a riveting 35-27 win over the Delaware Blue Hens. The 'Cats scored the go-ahead touchdown in the final moments of action, and capped it off with a two-point conversion that served as safety net on the ensuing kickoff.
Villanova now leads the all-time series against Delaware 26-21-1. They have won eight of the last nine meetings, and the last five games at Delaware Stadium. The 'Cats have been the victors in seven of the eight games since the tritely-named "Battle of the Blue" trophy was instituted.
QB John Robertson was the star for Villanova, recording 217 yards, 3 touchdown passes, including the game-winning drive and 21-yard pass to WR Kevin Gulyas with just 23 seconds left in the game. He also ran for 117 yards, totaling 334 yards of offense. Poppy Livers had his fourth career 100-yard receiving game with 6 catches for 102 yards and a touchdown, and RB Kevin Monangai added two touchdowns on 17 carries for 71 yards.
It was the fourth time Robertson led the 'Cats on a game-winning drive on the final possession of the game -- with all four scores coming in the final minute.
Villanova was out to a quick start at Delaware Stadium, scoring on each of the first three possessions to build up a 20-0 advantage in the second quarter. It looked as though the Wildcats were going to win the game easily, but the Blue Hens had other plans, storming back in the second half behind three touchdowns from RB Jalen Randolph and holding the Wildcats scoreless in the third quarter.
The Wildcat scored their first two touchdowns via Monangai, who ran for two-yards to cap off a long scoring drive to open the game, and then finished a second 80-yard drive by taking a 3-yard shovel-pass into the endzone. On their third possession, the 'Cats looked stopped on fourth-and-four before Robertson spotted Poppy Livers open, and the senior receiver found daylight, running 42 yards for a score.
For Villanova, the first 22 plays were all first and second downs. They averaged over 10 yards per play on their three scoring possessions.
The Blue Hens finally broke the shut-out with 10:24 left in the second quarter on a eight-play, 75-yard drive that ended with quarterback Trent Hurley finding his tight end on a 10-yard route. The Hen's failed on the remainder of their scoring attempts in the second quarter -- despite threatening in Villanova territory.
Hurley had a chance right before halftime from the Villanova 33 yard line after the UD defense forced the Wildcats to punt for the first time. His pass attempt, however, was picked off by Villanova linebacker Dillon Lucas who returned the ball all the way to the Delaware 2-yard line. He came up limping after being tackled, and the 'Cats were not able to punch the ball into the endzone on the ensuing possession -- being moved back by a holding call, and then settling for a 32-yard field goal try.
Kicker Steve Weyler's attempt was a line-drive that was blocked at the line, however.
The 'Cats came back from the break ready to score again, and took the lead to 27-7 after an 84-yard drive that resulted in Monangai punching in the score from the one-yard line.
Delaware responded near the end of the third quarter, scoring on a short run by Jalen Randolph with 2:42 left that capped off a 7-play, 75-yard possession for the Blue Hens. They piled on in the fourth quarter, after forcing another punt, going 65-yards over nine plays to make it 27-21, when Hurley found Randolph on fourth-and-2 with 9:56 remaining.
The Blue Hens would go ahead with 2:04 remaining on the clock, after driving to the Villanova 1-yard line. Randolph scored for the third time, taking the hand-off.
With just two minutes left in the game, the Wildcats found themselves down by one. In a 10-play drive that spanned 1:35, Robertson charged Villanova 68 yards to the victory. They squibbed the ensuing kickoff, forcing Delaware to run out the remainder of the time.
Throughout the game, the Wildcats were incredibly inefficient on third down, failing to connect on all nine attempts. They converted three of four attempts on fourth down, however. As has been the trend throughout the season, the 'Cats missed an extra-point opportunity in the first quarter.
Up next for Villanova will be a likely bid to the post-season, with the bracket to be announced tomorrow at 11 a.m. on ESPN U. The 'Cats anticipate receiving one of the top-8 seeds in the 24-team bracket, which would earn them a first-round bye and a second-round home game -- likely on December 6th.