VILLANOVA—The Villanova Wildcats take no prisoners in the first game of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs on Saturday afternoon.
The final score was 31-21 as the Wildcats take down the Saint Francis Red Flash, spoiling their first playoff appearance. The late touchdowns by the Red Flash were meaningless as the score was 31-7 by the end of the half.
What’s more, the game was out of reach in the second quarter when Wildcat sophomore quarterback Zach Bednarczyk heaved a deep ball to receiver Jarrett McClenton. Specifically, the play was a 53-yard pass play, which made the score 24-7 with 12:36 left in the second quarter.
McClenton contributed three catches for 65 yards and a score.
Tight-end Ryan Bell snatched five receptions with 110 yards receiving and two touchdowns on the day, and he said he was surprised on how fast he can run, though.
“Well, the first one when I caught it, I didn’t think I was that fast after the catch,” Bell said. “The second one they called it, and I made a play.”
Many of the plays that worked included misdirection zone reads, hitting a slew of receivers in the seam and throwing the pigskin deep down the field, ensuring the defense staying honest.
Bednarczynk led the onslaught, passing the ball 18-for-27 with 254 passing and three touchdowns. However, he said he wasn’t satisfied with how the team performed in the game’s entirety.
“You saw us in the first half; the second half was a little disappointing for us offensively, but I think our previous games brought us a lot of momentum with the young guys stepping up,” Bednarcyznk said. “That’s what happened in the first half of this game, but next week we want to play four quarters of football; that’s our goal.”
While managing the game, of course, is a huge part of winning a football game, the Wildcats put an emphasis on running the ball by committee. This led to the Wildcats winning the time of possession with close to 40 minutes versus Saint Francis’s 22 minutes.
Villanova will play South Dakota State in their next playoff game slated for Dec. 3.
Since 1985, head coach Andy Talley has been at the helm coaching and leading young men to victory in a Villanova football uniform. This will be his last year coaching as he announced this earlier in the year. Still, with his extensive coaching experience—including winning 257 games and winning an FCS Championship in 2009—he said he has never been to South Dakota, though.
“I never been to South Dakota,” Talley said. “But we are looking forward to going there. I think there a team that is very much like us. But we are looking forward to it. It’s a good trip for us. I think when you get to this point—with the 16 teams that are left—anybody can beat anybody at this point.”