VILLANOVA, PA. 9/22/2018 – The #15 Villanova Wildcats came out ferocious against the Bison of Bucknell. The team was looking for a bounce-back after the disappointing loss to Towson. The caliber of opponent was different, but Nova showed no residual ill effects beating the Bison 49 – 7 at Villanova Stadium. The Wildcats improve to 3 – 1 for the season, and finished the non-conference schedule undefeated.
“They responded in a really nice way,” said Villanova Coach Mark Ferrante. “We are proud of our team, they way they came out, the way they practiced and how they performed. It’s a great way to go out winning all of our non-conference games. We know we have a lot ahead of us.”
This game was decided early. On the first play from scrimmage the Nova defense forced a fumble that was recovered by defensive tackle Bryan White at the Bucknell 20 yard line. Three plays later running back Aaron Forbes scored his first rushing touchdown of thee season from 7-yards out and a 7 – 0 lead.
The Wildcat defense kept the pressure on the Bison with 2 sacks, a tackle for a loss, an interception by corner back Christian Bedford, and three punts. And that was in the first quarter where Bucknell had 32 yards of offense. Nova lead 28 – 0 after the initial period.
“That was important because if you start well, you finish well, and the momentum continued,” Bedford said.
At halftime the visitor output was 61 yards and the visitors crossed the midfield stripe twice, three times for the game. The score came off a fumbled punt recovery by Rosemont native Brice Sydnor capped by Logan Bitikofer 1-yard run.
The offense exploded for big plays. Quarterback Zach Bednarczyk threw a touchdown pass of 90-yards to wide receiver Josh McGrigg, the longest pass play in program history eclipsing an 87-yard scoring toss from John Robertson to Kevin Gulyas in a playoff game against Liberty in 2014. It was the first career touchdown for McGrigg. He set a career-mark in receptions in a game with 5, receiving yards (187), and all-purpose yards with 213. He just got past the last defender on they way to the end zone.
“I was just following the game plan,” said McGrigg about the longest touchdown catch. “It was nothing big, just what we were planning to do all week.”
“Coach always told me, you’ve got to finish the play. That’s all I was doing.”
For the game the Wildcats posted 609 yards of offense, almost equally divided between ground (302), air (307), setting new season-marks in total offense and points scored. Quarterback Zach Bednarczyk played until midway through the third quarter going 11 of 17 for 281 yards passing and running for 38 yards. He had a passing and a rushing touchdown. Running back D’Andre Pollard got his first collegiate touchdown on a 4-yard rush in the fourth quarter.
On defense the hosts set season-lows in points, first downs allowed (8) and total offensive yards given up (128).
“We had a bit of a chip on our shoulder,” Ferrante said.
The Wildcats had 230 offensive total yards in the first half. Running back Adeyemi DaSilva turned in a 29-yard scoring, run, the longest rush of his career. Villanova took a 42 – 7 lead into halftime, and out-gained Bucknell 434 to 61 yards.
Bucknell was led by Bitikofer with 93 total yards.
The game allowed more players to get experience due to injuries. The team will get deeper. Nova takes to the road next week facing Stony Brook in a CAA tilt.
“We’ll take it one game at a time and try to get to 1 and 0 next week,” Ferrante said.
Written By: Glenn Papazian