Talk about a marquee match-up. The two teams locking up Saturday won four of the past five Championship Subdivision national titles. Reigning champion Villanova gets a crack at overall No. 1 seed Appalachian State at Kidd-Brewer Stadium. Both teams are coming off second-round routs.
VU played arguably its most complete game of its title defense season. No surprise, it’s because the Wildcat roster was, finally, complete. “The return of No. 4, Matt Szczur, had a great effect on how we play football not only because of how he can provide the big play … he was a big factor in the Wildcat [formation],” VU head coach Andy Talley said.
Szczur, the 2009 championship game MVP, missed nearly two months because of an ankle injury, and the Wildcats struggled to even make the playoffs. But in his return at Stephen F. Austin, he showed the same explosiveness that made him a premiere weapon, scoring on a 48-yard touchdown reception.
“Having him back gives us a few more weapons in how we can attack,” Talley said.
Another facet of the Wildcats’ offensive scheme that was missing much of the game shored up at SFA. “We found a kicker in the 12th game of the year. Twelve points in the kicking game is tremendous,” Talley said. Redshirt freshman Mark Hamilton stepped up after Nick Yako struggled.
While VU is a team rediscovering itself, ASU did to Western Illinois what the Mountaineers have done all season — dominate in all facets. ASU overcame early turnovers committed under consistent snowfall to rack up 42 points on the Leathernecks. DeAndre Presley put on a show reminiscent of two-time Walter Payton Award winner Armanti Edwards.
“No one put pressure on me to try and fill his shoes,” Presley said of comparisons to Edwards. Nevertheless, Presley stepped into that role of dual attacking quarterback with 33 total touchdowns. And like his predecessor, Presley is a Payton Award finalist.