BOONE, N.C. (AP) – Receiver Matt Szczur rushed for three touchdowns, passed for one and caught another to lead Villanova to a 42-24 win over Appalachian State on Saturday in the Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinal.
Villanova (9-4) rallied for the second straight week, and advance to the semifinals to play Eastern Washington, who beat North Dakota State 38-31 Saturday.
Top seed Appalachian State scored on its opening drive, capped with Travaris Cadet’s 46-yard run, compiling 59 rushing yards on two plays. The Mountaineers (10-3) were held to 41 more the rest of the way.
“We felt like if we could catch up with them, somewhere in the first half, then we would have a chance to establish some offensive things and keep it in a balance form and stay in the game,” Wildcats coach Andy Talley said.
Villanova did more than that, taking the lead for good late in the first behind Szczur, both as a receiver and running the wildcat formation.
Szczur, a top baseball prospect who missed six games this season with an ankle injury; put Villanova ahead 14-10 with a pass to Norman White. Szczur, under pressure, side-armed a throw White had to settle above his head with his fingertips, then hauled it in for a 54-yard score.
On Villanova’s next two possessions, Szczur broke wide open down the middle for a 30-yard scoring pass from Chris Whitley, then scored on a run from 24 yards for a 28-10 lead. The receiver also had rushing scores of 2 and 1 yard.
It was Szczur’s first game with scores passing, receiving and rushing.
“He just does what needs to be done,” Talley said of Szczur, a Senior Bowl invitee.
“Obviously you can see the difference and growth at the end of the year in our team with him playing.”
Appalachian State sacked Whitney four times, and couldn’t cash in on a fumbled kickoff it recovered in the second half. DeAndre Presley passed for a career-high 361 yards and two scores, of 14 yards to Ben Jorden and 38 yards to Brian Quick, both in the second half.
Presley, after rushing for 264 yards in the snow last week in a 42-14 home win against Western Illinois, was held to 22 yards on the ground by Villanova.
“They did a great job of keeping everything in front of them,” said Cadet, who rushed for 80 yards for Appalachian State. “They played zone coverage the whole game. We didn’t take advantage of the opportunities we were given. They are a disciplined team, and it shows why they are the defending national champions.”
Villanova’s offensive line averages more than 25 pounds more per player than Appalachian State’s defensive front, and it showed with 285 rushing yards, almost 130 more than opponents averaged against the Mountaineers this season.
“They got push on them all day, and that was the key to us winning,” Whitley said of his offensive line.
Szczur led Villanova with 104 rushing yards and 45 receiving and passed for 58. Whitney was 12-of-16 passing for 106 yards for Villanova.
It was the first meeting between the schools, who’ve claimed four of the past five national championships. Villanova won its first last season, and Appalachian State won three straight from 2005-07. The teams combined for 96 points in their victories last week.
Appalachian State, which had reached the semifinal round in four of the past six seasons, had won 13 of 14 postseason home games, and 55 of 58 overall at Kidd Brewer Stadium since 2003.
A Mountaineers win would have been coach Jerry Moore’s 200th in 22 seasons.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
(Photo provided by villanova.com)