VILLANOVA, PA 9/15/2012 – The Villanova Wildcats football team found their legs in the second half for the second game in succession as they wore down the Rhode Island Rams with their running game and defense taking a 31 – 10 win at Villanova Stadium. The Wildcats outscored the Rams 24 – 0 in the second half en route the victory.
“We struggled in the first half, we couldn’t get any rhythm, but we were playing good defense,” said Villanova Coach Andy Talley. “We came out in the second half and got some rhythm. We took control in the second half and broke their will in the third quarter.”
Villanova ran for 244 yards in the game. In the second half the Wildcats gained 173 yards rushing. Four players accounted for impressive total of rushing yards. Freshman quarterback John Robertson ran for 63 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore running back Kevin Monangai had 55 yards on the ground and crossed the goal line twice. Sophomore running back Austin Medley gained 44 yards and he scored a touchdown. Sophomore wide receiver Poppy Livers ran the ball twice and gained 60 yards.“It starts with the offensive line,” said Monangai about how the running game can be effective. “When they do their job, then I can do my job.”
Rhode Island Coach Joe Trainer saw all of the talented running backs on the other side of the field and what the running game did to his defense.
“They had different guys to get the ball to in the run game,” Trainer said. “It’s almost like a triple option. It looked like they wore us down a bit.”
Villanova has opened their season with three straight games where they have run for more than 200 yards. The last time the Wildcats accomplsihed this was in 1992.
The defense did their part. Rhode Island led 10 – 7 at halftime, but were shutout in the second half. The Rams gained 152 yards in the first half, but only 51 in the second. Rhode Island could get only6 four first downs in the latter half. For the game the Rhode Island converted only 4 of 12 Third Down Conversion attempts.
On the first possession of the game Villanova Sophomore defensive back Joe Sarnese intercepted a pass by Rhode Island quarterback Bob Bentsen. The offense converted the turnover into a touchdown. Monangai scored on a 1 yard run. Rhode Island answered with a 25 yard touchdown pass from Bentsen to wide receiver Billy Morgan, resident of Chester and Cardinal O’Hara graduate. In the second quarter kicker Dylan Smith made a 25yard field goal to provide the Rams with their 3 point halftime lead.
In the second half Villanova began their march. The Wildcats took the kickoff and went on an 8 play, 57 yard drive in 3:25 completed by a 1 yard rushing touchdown by Robertson. After forcing Rhode Island to punt Villanova drove the ball 73 yards in 9 plays over 4:05 to lead 21 – 10 when Medley scored from 4 yards out. The key play in the drive was a 33 yard completion from Robertson to Junior wide receiver Joe Price. In the fourth quarter Villanova kicker Mark Hamilton made good on a 24 yard field goal set up by a Rhode Island fumble by Bentsen. The Wildcats ended their scoring for the day 23 yard touchdown run by Monangai.
“We put away the penalties and did well on blocking and pass protection,” Talley said. “We just wore down their run game. The defense started to exert their will.”
Robertson completed 14 of 27 passes and threw no interceptions. Senior wide receiver Norman White caught 7 passes for 88 yards.
Villanova improves to 2 – 1 on the season and with the win go 1 – 0 in the CAA. The Wildcats prepare for a city showdown with cross-town rival Penn next week.
“We had so many close, entertaining games with them,” Talley said about the upcoming contest. “They’ve proven they can play with anyone. It will be a typical Villanova Penn game at Franklin Field. It will be the usual tough football game it always is.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian