Zach Bednarczyk threw touchdowns to three receivers, including the game-winner to Jarrett McClenton with 7:17 remaining, and the Villanova defense came through with two interceptions to seal a 19-17 season-opening comeback win over FBS Temple Owls 19 -17 at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday afternoon (Sept 1st).
Trailing by 17-13, Villanova drove 80 yards in 10 plays for the go-ahead score. The touchdown came on a fourth down 30-yard pass from a scrambling Bednarczyk, who avoided an all-out blitz by Temple, to McClenton. The Owls’ Quincy Roche blocked the extra point try to leave the Wildcats with a 19-17 lead. On the subsequent possession, Villanova linebacker Jeff Steeb picked off Frank Nutile’s pass allowing the Wildcats to regain the ball and take vital time off of the clock. By the time Temple regained possession of the ball, only 1:27 remained. Temple’s attempt for a come from behind win was quickly stymied when Freshman Elijah Trent intercepted Nutile’s pass with 1:18 left in the game.
Bednarczyk, who missed most of last season due to injury, passed for 254 yards and three touchdowns. Overall, the senior QB completed 29 of 40 passes and connected with nine different receivers. On Villanova’s opening drive of the game, Bednarczyk connected with senior tight end Ryan Bell for a 1-yard touchdown to culminate an 8 play, 70-yard drive. Bell also missed much of last season after suffering an injury. Bednarczyk also tossed a 17-yard touchdown to Brandon Chadbourn (another Wildcat returning from an injury) in the first quarter.
The visiting Villanova Wildcats dominated the first half, running 43 plays for 247 total yards while limiting the Temple Owls to 83 total yards. Villanova racked up 17 first downs to Temple’s 6. Most significantly, Villanova controlled time of possession by a margin of 20:27 to 9:33. Notwithstanding, Villanova’s dominance, Temple, as a result of a blocked field goal attempt by Quincy Roche (his first of two blocked kicks), which was gathered up and returned 74-yards by Kimere Brown for a touchdown, trailed only by 3 points, 13-10, at halftime. The Owls’ other points came on a 46-yard field goal by Aaron Boumerhi, the hero of last year’s last-second Temple win over Villanova.
Temple took the lead midway through the third quarter on a 15-yard pass from Nutile to Isaiah Wright. Early int he fourth quarter, Temple squandered an opportunity to extend its’ lead as Boumerhi missed on a 30-yard field goal attempt. Villanova took advantage of the opportunity by marching down to score the winning touchdown and providing second-year Head Coach Mark Ferrante with a signature win over the favored Owls, coached by Geoff Collins.
The game’s leading ground gainer, senior Aaron Forbes. ran for 111 yards on 16 carries for the Wildcats. Bell, who caught 9 passes for 81-yards and a touchdown, was Villanova’s leading receiver. McClenton added 5 catches for 63-yards, including the game winning score. Defensively, Rob Rolle, the senior safety, another Wildcat who missed significant time from injury last year, linebacker Keeling Hunter, and freshman defensive back Christian Benford were the leading tacklers. Temple was paced by Nutile who threw for 185-yards and a touchdown. Branden Mack snagged 7 passes for 78-yards. Ryquell Armstead, the Owls’ leading rusher, was limited to 31-net yards by Villanova’s stingy defense. Linebackers Chapelle Russell and Shaun Bradley each had 10 tackles for Temple.
Villanova (1-0) will return to the gridiron next Saturday, September 8, at 12:30 p.m. when they play Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. Temple (0-1) will host Buffalo University on September 8th at Lincoln Financial Field in a 3:30 p.m. game.
[Photos by Rick Pettine]
[Article by Stephen Miller]
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