By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Villanova Wildcats are still alive in the FCS playoffs. On Saturday, they will take to the road to visit South Dakota State in the second round.

Villanova advanced by beating St. Francis University in the first round this past Saturday, 31-21, on the Main Line.

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“I think we got a quick start and that is exactly what we were hoping to do,” Villanova head coach Andy Talley tells KYW Newsradio. “Put 31 points on the board in the first half and then we just sort of hung back a little back in the second half, did not finish drives. But I think we had made a statement early on.”

Listen to the entire interview with Villanova’s Andy Talley:

 

Quarterback Zach Bednarczyk threw three touchdown passes in the win over Saint Francis, while the Villanova defense held the Red Flash to 264 yards of total offense.

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The win improved the Wildcats to 9-3 on the season. South Dakota State is 8-3 and the Jackrabbits had a first-round playoff bye. Their regular season resume featured a Missouri Valley Football Conference title and a win over five-time defending national champion, and Carson Wentz’s alma mater, North Dakota State.

“They are very physical,” Talley says. “It’s a big team with a lot of size on both sides of the ball. Their quarterback is the most valuable (offensive) player in their league this year. So he’s a guy who, like Zach, can run and throw and has a great skill set.”

That quarterback for South Dakota State is sophomore Taryn Christion. He has thrown for 3,369 yards and 29 touchdowns, while rushing for 385 yards and six more scores.

This is a tough challenge for the Wildcats, but Villanova’s week-to-week experience as a member of one of the premier conferences in FCS, the Colonial Athletic Association, should serve it well on Saturday.

“There isn’t really much we haven’t seen in terms of hostile crowds, traveling away, distance,” Talley says. “So I think our style of play will fit in real well out there. I don’t think they’ve seen a lot of teams like us and we’re a pretty hard and tough group, especially on defense. So it should be a lot of fun and we’re really looking forward to it.”

Talley is winding down an outstanding career as the head coach at Villanova. He will retire once the curtain closes on this his 32nd season on the Main Line.

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Saturday’s game in Brookings, South Dakota will start at 3:00pm.