Villanova's football team beat Holy Cross, 38-28, in the first round of the I-AA playoffs at Villanova Stadium. The Wildcats will host the winner of New Hampshire-McNeese State in the second round next weekend.
Since the game wasn't on TV, you would think it would make sense for me to have done a live blog. But I was told before the game that I would not be allowed to by NCAA rules. I believe, however, that I was within my rights to post updates on here at the end of each quarter, so that's what I have done.
(Said rights are listed in the "NCAA Blogging Policy," which is availble a ways down the page here.)
If you agree with me that my liveblogs aren't a true substitute for television broadcasts (and I know that many of you do), then you should find your own way of registering a reasonable protest. Suffice to say that I don't have the resources to fight this battle, but I am sure that there are people out there who might be able to do so.
Here is my running summary of the game. I had to leave as soon as it ended to get to the Pavilion for the La Salle-Villanova basketball game, so there is no postgame audio.
Holy Cross scored just under a minute and a half into the fourth quarter as Dominic Randolph found tight end Alex Schneider with a touchdown pass for the second time in the game. The five-yard pass capped off a nine-play 75-yard drive that lasted 3:30.
Villanova had a couple of nervous third downs on its ensuing drive, and the Crusaders were able to at least keep the Wildcats out of the end zone. But 'Nova was at least able to get a 25-yard field goal from Nick Yako with 7:18 left in the game. That drive was 13 plays and 56 yards, and lasted 6:02
Holy Cross was faced with a 4th-and-10 at Villanoa's 35 with 5:47 left in the game, and Dominic Randolph's pass was too far for Kyle Toulouse. The Wildcats took over and ran the clock down to 2:41 before being faced with a fourth-and-inches. They went for it, and Matt Szczur bulldozed his way for a first down. The Wildcats got another first down and ran out the clock from there.
Holy Cross cut Villanova's lead to 28-21 with 5:05 left in the third quarter when Bill Edger made a tremnendous leaping catch of a 17-yard pass with a defender right on him in the corner of the end zone.
The scoring drive was nine plays and 80 yards in 3:29.
But Villanova responded as Matt Szczur scored off a direct snap from five yards out.
The score was set up in part by a great catch by Szczur a few plays earlier. Hehauled in a -yard pass from Chris Whitney, who had to scramble quite a bit before throwing off his back footl.
I swowre the pass would be picked off, but Szczur got in front of the defender just at the last second and got the ball for himself.
The scoring drive was seven plays and 66 yards and lasted 2:48.
The attendance has been announced: 4,319. Capacity of the Pavilion is 6,500, since I overheard someone in the press box asking.
Villanova scored early in the second quarter as Chris Whitney capped off a 14-play, 80-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
The Wildcats scored again with 57 seconds left in the quarter as Angelo Babbaro took a pitchout from Chris Whitney to the end zone from three yards out.
That drive lasted eight plays and 69 yards, and took 1:41 off the clock.
Matt Szczur set a new career high with 85 receiving yards after catching a 10-yard pass from Chris Whitney with 1:32 left in the second quarter.
At the half, Villanova has racked up a total of 326 yards of offense and Holy Cross has 211. The Wildcats have made 18 first downs and are 3-5 on third down, while the Crusaders have made 11 first downs and are 2-6 on third down. Both teams have also converted once on fourth down.
Holy Cross quarterback Dominic Randolph is 17-25 for 186 yards and one touchdown. Bill Edger is his team's leading receiver with 62 yards and Eddie Houghton is the leading rusher with 12 yards.
Villanova's Chris Whitney is 9-12 for 144 yards and one touchdown. Matt Szczur is the leading receiver with a career-high 85 yards. Angelo Babbaro is the leading rusher with 70 yards and Aaron Ball has 63 yards.
In the first quarter, Villanova scored on its first drive with a six-yard touchdown run by Aaron Ball. The drive lasted 11 plays and 4:49, and covered 72 yards.
Holy Cross responded with a touchdown of its own, as quarterback Dominich Randolph took it in himself from two yards out. The Crusaders' drive lasted 13 plays and 5:12, and covered 77 yards.
But the Wildcats took the lead right back, as Chris Whitney found Dorian Wells with a pass and Wells took it most of the play's 29 yards to score. That was a five-play, 73-yard drive lasting 1:59.
Holy Cross then tied the game with 11 seconds left in the quarter as tight end Alex Schneider (wearing No. 97, oddly) caught a two-yard pass from Randolph. The drive was seven plays and 66 yards, and lasted 2:32.
Our Villanova page has a scoreboard, but we don't have any kind of play-by-play. You're on your own for that.
As for the scene, that crowd of 4,319 is about 1/3 of the stadium's capacity. There were very few Villanova students because of the holiday weekend, and there was no band. But there were a lot of Holy Cross fans on the visitors' side of the stadium.