VILLANOVA, PA. 11/14/2015 – The Villanova Wildcats still have a chance to win a share of the CAA Title and a berth in the FCS Playoffs by upsetting the #9 Richmond Spiders at Villanova Stadium. The Wildcats tied the game on a 12-yard touchdown pass on a fourth down play from freshman quarterback Zach Bednarczyk to senior wide receiver Kevin Gulyas with 41 seconds remaining. But the game was not decided until freshman kicker Gerard Smith converted the extra point.
“I knew going in that if I made it we’d win the game, but if I missed it we would go into overtime,” said Smith. “So there was not a lot of pressure. I just was thinking to put it through the uprights, and that’s what I did.”
Richmond took the lead with just over five minutes left in the fourth quarter. Villanova drove to the Richmond 37 yard line, but turned the ball over on a fumble. The Spiders responded with a 7 play, 53 yard drive capped by a 7-yard touchdown carry by running back Jacobi Green, his second score of the game. However, the extra point attempt was blocked by senior safety Cameron McCurry and senior lineman Reggie Paris giving Richmond a 20 – 14 lead, setting up the winning scenario for Villanova.
It took a full team effort for the Wildcats to pull off the upset. The defense has been playing well, and heavily contributed to the win along with the special teams.
“We just came together as a unit,” said McCurry. “It’s a team game and we need to lean on each other and sacrifice for everyone on the team. We started to play together and focus on that.”
McCurry recovered a fumble at the Nova 12 yard line in the second quarter. In the third quarter junior linebacker Austin Calitro intercepted a Kyle Lauletta pass at the Nova 8 yard line. In the second half kickoff McCurry forced a fumble on the return that was recovered by senior linebacker Don Cherry. On the next play freshman Jarrett McClenton ran it in from 14 yards away to put the Cats ahead 14 – 7.
“The kickoff coverage that caused the fumble and gave us a chance to score was huge,” said Villanova Coach Andy Talley. “That was seven for us when it was their opportunity to have the ball. We needed to play well in all three phases of the game, and I think we did.”
Overall Richmond was 3 for 5 in the red zone and those drives were ended by the turnovers. Villanova was 3 for 3 in the red zone.
“We did not respond the way a championship team should respond,” said Richmond Coach Danny Rocco. “There were too many miscues and missed opportunities, and we had an extra point blocked.”
Villanova (6 – 4, 5 – 2) is one of three teams with two losses in the CAA along with Richmond and James Madison. They trial league leader William & Mary by one in the loss column. The Wildcats travel to James Madison next week while Richmond meets William & Mary. A Villanova victory and a Richmond win would earn Nova a share of the conference championship and consideration for a playoff berth. It is something that seemed far away earlier this season.
“We’ve won four out of five now,” Talley said. “The key for us is to play a significant game at the end of the year. At JMU that will be the most significant game. If we can beat them there, we will be deserving of a playoff spot.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian