TRIBE 28, VILLANOVA 38
It didn’t take long for Villanova University to take control Saturday.
The Wildcats (4-1, 2-0 CAA) snuffed the College of William and Mary’s opening drive, blocking junior kicker Brian Pate’s 32-yard field goal attempt, and turning the tables on the Tribe (2-2, 0-1 CAA) en route to a 38-28 victory.
The Wildcats reeled off 35 consecutive points in the first 27 minutes of the game, pouncing on numerous Tribe miscues, including numerous missed tackles, four penalties, a fumble and a blocked punt.
“Things started snowballing,” Head Coach Jimmye Laycock said. “They were playing well and we were self-destructing.”
The Tribe’s mistakes gave Villanova short fields on two occasions — once after true freshman running back Jonathan Grimes’s fumble and the other following a blocked punt. The Wildcats capitalized quickly on those opportunities, using just five plays to move 50 yards for two touchdowns.
Villanova’s backup quarterback Chris Whitney, who filled in for an injured Antwon Young, led five successful scoring drives in the first half for the Wildcats, throwing for three first-half touchdowns and running for another. Whitney even recovered his own fumble before hitting wideout Mikey Reynolds for a 32-yard catch-and-run. On the Tribe sideline, it appeared Whitney illegally caught a self-pass and then threw another forward pass. The officials saw it differently and allowed the play to stand. The critical third-down conversion kept Villanova’s drive alive and led to a touchdown which gave them a 14-0 lead.
The play began a four minute and 28 second stretch in which the Wildcats posted 21 points, silencing an energized Zable Stadium crowd and putting the Tribe back on its heels.
The College received a boost 37 seconds before halftime when Grimes returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, preventing the Tribe from its second scoreless half of the season.
“I told everybody to get a hat on somebody,” Grimes said. “The blocks were there. It gave us a little life.”
A different Tribe squad emerged following the break. Junior quarterback R.J. Archer, starting for injured senior quarterback Jake Phillips, threw three passes for 75 yards on a drive which took only 41 seconds. Archer capped the drive with a 44-yard touchdown throw to senior wideout Elliot Mack, who outran Villanova’s secondary and into the endzone.
The defense also turned its performance around in the second half, recording third-down stops and finishing plays. The Tribe held Villanova to 144 yards of offense in the second half and allowed just three points. Unfortunately for the College, its 28-point halftime deficit proved too massive to overcome.
Archer led three second-half touchdown drives, which included two TD runs of his own. In his first start, Archer completed 21 of 27 passes for 307 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
“I thought he did a good job of maintaining his poise back there,” Laycock said. “I thought he handled himself well and ran the offense well.”