Defense was the name of the game on Saturday afternoon, October 7, at Villanova Stadium, as the Villanova Wildcats defensive unit put on a dazzling display and blanked the Maine Black Bears 31-0. Villanova’s defense completely throttled the visiting Black Bears offense. The Wildcats smothered Maine’s running game, limiting the Black Bears to a net of 8-yards rushing on 29 carries, and causing three fumbles, two of which Villanova recovered, including one, by freshman defensive back Jaquan Amos, for a 99-yard touchdown. The Wildcats also frustrated the Black Bears quarterbacks when they attempted to launch an air attack, by pilfering 4 passes and breaking up numerous other pass attempts. Overall, Maine was limited to 219-yards of total offense on 70 plays by Villanova’s dominating defense.
Villanova opened the scoring in the first quarter by driving 54-yards in 7 plays that culminated with a 20-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jack Schetelich, making his first start, to tight end Todd Summers, also making his first start. Drew Kresge converted the extra point to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead.
Midway through the second quarter, Maine drove deep into Villanova territory, gaining a first and goal at the Villanova 3-yard line, but quarterback Drew Belcher fumbled on a hit by Villanova linebacker Keeling Hunter and Jaquan Amos recovered it and ran it back for a 99-yard touchdown (which set a Villanova record and tied the FCS record for a fumble return TD). Amos fumble return proved to be a game changer. Instead of being tied 7-7, Villanova’s lead was expanded to 14-0. On the ensuing possession by Maine, Villanova’s Malik Reaves picked off a pass thrown by quarterback Chris Ferguson and returned it 8-yards to the Maine 40 yard line. Two plays later, the Wildcats hit paydirt again on an 11-yard run by Taurus Phillips. On the following possession, Keeling Hunter picked off a Ferguson pass deep in Black Bears territory. But Villanova was unable to take advantage of the takeaway by Hunter and was forced to punt. The half concluded with Villanova on top by a score of 21-0. Oddly, Villanova was outgained by Maine in the first half 165-total yards to 69-total yards. The key to Villanova’s dominance was causing three first-half turnovers, resulting in 14 points.
Villanova’s defense set up another touchdown early in the third quarter when safety Rasaan Stewart intercepted a Ferguson throw in Maine territory. The Wildcats capped a quick 3-play, 32-yard drive on a 12-yard run by Schetelich. The quarter ended with Villanova ahead 28-0.
Villanova scored one last time in the final quarter on 46-yard field goal by Drew Kresge, which was set up by a 10- yard run by backup quarterback Jackson Bradley on third and 24 from the Maine 39-yard line. Maine’s attempt to avert a shutout failed when Villanova linebacker Ed Shockley forced a fumble by Black Bear receiver Jaquan Blair at the Villanova 20-yard line which was recovered by Rasaan Stewart at the 18-yard line.
Both teams gained a total of 219 yards of total offense. Maine on 70 plays, Villanova on 55 plays. Villanova outgained Maine by a margin of 158-yards to 8-yards on the ground. Aaron Forbes was the leading rusher for the Wildcats with 63 net yards on 14 carries. Justin Covington added 49-yards on 10 carries. Schetelich, playing in place of injured starter Zach Bednarczyk, completed only 3 of 8 passes for 61-yards and a touchdown. He also threw one interception. Freshman tight end Jack Boomer was Villanova’s top receiver with one catch for 29-yards. Tight End Todd Summers, playing in place of Ryan Bell, also had one reception for 20-yards and a touchdown.
On defense, Ed Shockley and Rasaan Stewart were Villanova’s leading tacklers with 9 apiece. Villanova had 4 interceptions – one each for Jaquan Amos, Malik Reaves, Trey Johnson, and Keeling Hunter. Hunter and Shockley each forced a fumble, and Stewart and Amos each recovered a fumble.
For Maine, Josh Mack was its leading ground gainer with 22-net yards on 18 rushing attempts. Jaleel Reed was the Black Bears top receiver catching 6 passes for 85- yards. Chris Ferguson completed 15of 24 passes for 138-yards, including three interceptions. Max Staver completed 8 of 17 attempts, with one interception, for 73-yards. Jaron Grayer was the Black Bears leading tackler with a game-high 11 tackles.
Up next for Villanova, 4-2 overall, 2-1 CAA, with the win, is a trip to Harrisonburg, Virginia to play the #1 ranked FCS team in the country, the James Madison University Dukes at 3:30pm on Saturday, October 14. Maine, now 1-3 overall, o-3 CAA, will return home next Saturday to host the Rhode Island Rams for Homecoming day.
[Photos by Rick Pettine]
[Article by Stephen Miller]
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