The Villanova Wildcats returned home bruised and battered from a two-game road trip, but came away with a 31-0 victory in what was red shirt Freshman quarterback Jack Schetelich’s first career start.
Despite being down multiple starters other than Bednarczyk, Ryan Bell and Matt Gudzak to name a few, Villanova prevailed.
“I think it shows that we are together as a team. Our guys don’t mope around. I think it just shows that these guys are able to respond and pick up the younger guys,” Head coach Mark Ferrante said.
Schetelich threw for 61 yards, one touchdown, and one interception to go with one rushing touchdown.
Villanova and Maine both had 219 yards of total offense, but the Wildcat defense forced six turnovers and thoroughly dominated the Maine offense throughout.
Ferrante was very pleased with his teams’s performance, to say the least, “If you would had told me that that was going to be the outcome of the game, I would had never believed you.”
The Wildcat defense forced a Maine punt on the first possession, and Sophomore Dage Davis got a piece of it to give the Wildcats their first possession from their own 46. Schetelich captained a 7-play 54-yard drive which ended in a touchdown pass to fellow red shirt Freshman Todd Summers, the first touchdown reception of his career, to give the ‘Cats a 7-0 lead.
The ‘Nova defense again forced a fourth down, and a fake punt attempt by the Black Bears fell one yard short of the first down, giving the Wildcats the ball again. The Wildcats couldn’t get anything going on the ensuing drive and John Hinchen’s punt was blocked by Junior Mozai Nelson, giving Maine the ball at the Villanova 45.
Maine started moving the ball early in the second half, and a Josh Mack run set up a 1st and goal from the Villanova 3. It looked as if the Black Bears would tie the score, but Sophomore Keeling Hunter forced a fumble and Philadelphia native Jaquan Amos returned it 99-yards for a touchdown. The return was the third 99-yard fumble recover in FCS history, and a Villanova record for the longest fumble return in school history. Drew Kresge knocked in the extra point and put the ‘Cats up 14-0.
The fumble recovery was the turning point of the game, Maine was three yards from tying it up but in a blink of an eye it was 14-0 in favor of Villanova. Amos was just in the right place at the right time.
“We were in cover 2 so I was pressing the receiver, and then he took an outside release so I turned my head, and as soon as I turned around the ball was there. I saw the ball, I just grabbed it, and that was all she wrote,” he recalled.
The Black Bears next drive lasted three plays before quarterback Chris Ferguson was picked off by Senior Malik Reeves.
Two plays later, Taurus Phillips ran it in from 11 yards out to give the Wildcats a 21-0 lead.
Maine committed their third consecutive turnover when Ferguson was picked off, this time by Keeling Hunter. Nothing came of it for the Wildcats, however, and Hinchen downed the Black Bears at their own 9.
Maine couldn’t cut into the deficit, and Villanova took a 21-0 lead into the half, despite being out gained 165-69.
Villanova got the ball to start the 2nd half and started to drive, but Schetelich was picked off by Jason Matovu, and Maine started their first drive of the 2nd half from their own 19.
Ferguson threw his third interception of the game when Rasaan Stewart picked him off, giving Villanova the ball at the Maine 32. Three plays later, Schetelich ran it in from 12 yards to give the ‘Cats a 28-0 lead.
Maine made a change at quarterback, putting in Senior Max Staver. Not much changed, however, as Trey Johnson picked off Staver, the Black Bears fifth turnover of the game. The Black Bears 6th turnover came short after, when Ed Shockley forced a Jacquan Blair fumble.
“If you get six turnovers in your favor, sometimes that’s what the score’s going to look like,” said Ferrante.
Both teams traded possessions for the remainder of the 3rd quarter and into the 4th, before Kresge hit 46-yard field goal with nine minutes left to put Villanova up 31-0.
This is Villanova’s 2nd shutout of the season, the first coming in a 51-0 win over Lafayette. Keeling Hunter pointed out that is something the defense strives for.
“We put a lot of pressure on ourselves so it’s nothing new. It just feels good every time you can hold someone to zero because it hurts their spirit and gives us all the momentum in the world.”
Both teams exchanged possessions the rest of the way, giving Villanova a 31-0 win.
Next up for Villanova is #1 ranked James Madison, in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Ferrante knows the challenge that stand ahead of them.
“Our guys are super resilient and our guys will be super excited to go into that environment, because that place, they get behind their squad. We’re going to go down there and play [our] game.”