Oct. 30, 2010

Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

In its Homecoming game on Saturday afternoon, No. 6 Villanova (5-2, 3-1 CAA) made two touchdowns in the second quarter stand up for a 14-7 victory over No. 11 James Madison (4-3, 1-3 CAA) at Villanova Stadium to extend its home winning streak to 14 consecutive games.

The last loss at home for the Wildcats was on Homecoming Weekend against the Dukes back in 2008 but on this day the passing of senior quarterback Chris Whitney (Warminster, Pa.) in the first half and a great defensive effort were the deciding factors.

In front of a crowd of 9,217 fans, Whitney went 13-of-17 for 159 yards and two touchdowns in the first half to spot his team a 14-0 lead entering the intermission. The first points of the game didn't come until there was 4:19 left in the second quarter, when Whitney threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Norman White (Hammonton, N.J.).

Exactly three minutes later, the Wildcats unfurled the kind of big play that has been prevalent in their offense this season. With 1:19 remaining in the opening half sophomore wide receiver Mikey Reynolds (Moorestown, N.J.) caught a 54-yard touchdown pass to put Villanova ahead by a 14-0 margin.

Defensively, the Wildcats held James Madison scoreless until the Dukes first drive of the second half. It was the fourth time in seven games this season that Villanova allowed zero or one touchdowns to the opposition. Senior linebacker Marquis Kirkland (Syracuse, N.Y.) had a team-high 10 tackles and both he and senior free safety Fred Maldonado (West Chester, Pa.) recorded 2.5 tackles for loss.

Although the Wildcats continued to roll along offensively in the second half - gaining 129 yards - all of that production came on the ground. Whitney attempted just two passes in the entire second half and both were incomplete. He finished the day 13-of-19 through the air. White had a team-high seven receptions for 73 yards and Reynolds finished with 75 receiving yards on three catches.

Villanova finished the game with 209 rushing yards, with senior running backs Angelo Babbaro (Canfield, Ohio) and Aaron Ball (Los Angeles, Calif.) each carrying the ball 13 times and Whitney running 12 times. Babbaro ran for 72 yards and Ball picked up 55 yards to lead the Wildcats ground game.

On the first drive of the second half James Madison drove 73 yards on nine plays, scoring their only points of the game when Kavon Seaton capped the scoring drive with a two-yard run. The majority of the offense for the Dukes came through the air and quarterback Drew Dudzik was 22-of-32 for 213 yards.

In the waning moments of the game, Villanova withstood a final charge by James Madison when junior cornerback James Pitts (Montclair, N.J.) intercepted a pass by Dudzik in the end zone as time expired. The end of the game was starting to look reminiscent of the last trip the Dukes made to Villanova Stadium, when they defeated the Wildcats on a hail mary pass at the end of the game.

A trick play by Villanova helped it keep the first scoring drive of the day going. Facing a fourth-and-nine play from midfield, the Wildcats faked a punt and junior punter Dominic Scarnecchia (Cleveland, Ohio) carried the ball for 23 yards to establish some offensive momentum in what was then still a scoreless game.

NOTES: Villanova is 22-1 in its last 23 home contests, with the only loss in that span being the one to James Madison two years ago on October 25, 2008 ... With 55 rushing yards in today's game, Ball moved into second place in school history with 2,571 career rushing yards ... On the same drive as the fake punt, Whitney threw a 13-yard completion to White on fourth-and-eight to again continue the drive ... Scarnecchia's rush on the fake punt was the first run of his career ... The Wildcats missed two field goals in the game.