Oct. 30, 2010

Courtesy of Villanova Athletica

Senior quarterback Chris Whitney (Warminster, Pa.) ran for over 100 yards in the first quarter alone and the defense gave its typically strong effort as No. 5 Villanova (6-2, 4-1 CAA) defeated No. 14 Richmond (4-4, 2-3 CAA) by a final score of 28-7 in an early matinee on Saturday afternoon. The outcome marked the third straight win overall and the 15th consecutive home victory for the Wildcats, who built a 21-0 halftime lead.

On the second Villanova possession of the game, Whitney broke away for a 45-yard scoring run that got the Wildcats started with a 7-0 lead at the 5:46 mark of the first quarter. On the next Villanova possession, he ran for 36 yards during a five-play drive that culminated with a five-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Norman White (Hammonton, N.J.).

The defensive side of the story was much of the same for the Wildcats, who have now allowed zero or one touchdown in five of their eight contests this season. Villanova forced the Spiders into committing four turnovers, with senior linebacker Marquis Kirkland (Syracuse, N.Y.) and senior safety John Dempsey (Secane, Pa.) both recovering fumbles. Junior cornerback James Pitts (Montclair, N.J.) and sophomore defensive back Eric Loper (Sicklerville, N.J.) each had an interception.

Late in the second quarter, the Wildcats stretched their lead to 21-0 when senior running back Aaron Ball (Los Angeles, Calif.) scored on a 27-yard touchdown run.

Villanova went over 200 yards on the ground for the third straight game and finished with 244 yards rushing. Whitney wound up with 116 yards on 11 carries and both Ball and senior running back Angelo Babbaro (Canfield, Ohio) tallied 40 yards on the ground.

Aside from a few big plays, much of the game was stuck in the middle of the field and each team's punter made an impact in the contest. The average field position for the Wildcats to start their drives was their own 35-yard line, though they had five possessions that began inside their own 20-yard line. In the third quarter, Villanova had three drives with an average starting position of their own 21-yard line and did not gain a single first down in the quarter.

The stalemate broke in the fourth quarter when senior tight end Chris Farmer (Philadelphia, Pa.) caught a three-yard touchdown pass from Whitney to finish a seven-play drive in which the Wildcats had to go only 12 yards. That possession had started after a 32-yard fumble return by Dempsey.

Richmond got its only points of the game with 3:26 left in the third period on a one-yard scoring run from Kendall Gaskins.

Whitney finished 9-of-16 through the air for 78 yards and the two scores. This was the fifth straight game in which White caught a touchdown pass for Villanova, and his five-yard catch in the first quarter was his sixth touchdown of the season.

Starting quarterback Montel White was 3-of-8 for 51 yards for the Spiders and Nick Hicks went 8-of-17 for 117 yards. Both threw one interception. Tre Gray led Richmond offensively with five receptions for 62 yards and Jovan Smith carried for 41 yards on 16 carries.

Next week the Wildcats go back on the road for a 1 p.m. contest at Rhode Island.

NOTES: Kirkland had a game-high 11 tackles for Villanova, including two of the team's seven tackles for loss ... The Wildcats have won 23 of their last 24 home games, with the only loss in that span being a 23-19 setback to James Madison on October 25, 2008.