By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Villanova Wildcats will play their home opener on Saturday afternoon, welcoming a very good Fordham team to the Main Line.
Villanova stepped up a level last week and went on the road, visiting Syracuse of FBS. The Wildcats outgained the Orange (389 to 320), dominated time of possession (37:48 to 22:12) and went 12 of 20 on third down. But they missed a short field goal with seconds left in regulation that would have won the game and then a two-point conversion attempt failed in double overtime, Villanova lost, 27-26.
“We played a great game really,” Villanova head coach Andy Talley tells KYW Newsradio. “I mean we did everything we needed to do to win the game. And our players were terrific. Just did a fantastic job. Sometimes the ball just doesn’t go your way.”
Villanova could have extended the game into a third overtime by kicking and making the extra point following their last touchdown, but Talley decided to go all in with that two-point conversion attempt. Quarterback John Robertson was stopped on a quarterback draw, ending the game.
“They are decisions that you have to make,” Talley says. “I just felt, based on where our team was at that point that we really needed to try and seize the moment and maybe end the game.”
It was a heartbreaking loss, but Talley says they can’t let it linger.
“We’ve asked the kids to put this game in the rearview mirror,” Talley says. “It’s getting smaller and smaller and smaller as Fordham comes into town. That’s really what you have to do. We have 11 more games, we have a chance to be a very good football team and I think our players are mature enough to accept that.”
While Robertson was stopped on that final play, he had a whale of a game against Syracuse. The junior quarterback rushed for 115 yards and completed 16 of 27 passes for 199 yards and a score.
Fordham has undergone a football renaissance as of late. They won a program record 12 games last season, including an FCS playoff game. They opened the 2014 season with a 52-23 dismantling of St. Francis University last week.
“Their quarterback (senior Mike Nebrich) is really one of the best quarterbacks in FCS football,” Talley says. “He’s a transfer from Connecticut and he played great against us last year. They beat Temple down there at the Linc (last season), this guy can play and he is a big play guy. And they have all their skill set back. So it’s a team with lots of skill and speed, so they would be one of the top teams in the CAA for sure.”
Nebrich threw three touchdowns in last week’s win for Fordham, and last year in a 27-24 win over Villanova, Nebrich rushed for 102 yards and two scores and also threw for 190 yards.
Saturday’s game at Villanova Stadium will kick-off at 3:30pm.