Richmond never really had a chance.
The Spiders headed into Saturday's much-anticipated Colonial Athletic Association matchup depleted at quarterback. As a result, signal-caller Montel White, a true freshman who was fourth-string in the preseason, had to face a Villanova defense ranked fifth nationally in both scoring and rushing defense.
The Wildcats took full advantage of that and other Spiders shortcomings en route to a 28-7 victory at Villanova Stadium.
Heading into the game, "I thought we were probably two touchdowns better than them because they didn't have enough offensive firepower," said Villanova coach Andy Talley, whose fifth-ranked squad improved to 6-2 and 4-1 CAA.
"If our run-stoppers held up against their ability to run the ball and we were going to get a standoff, [the Wildcats] knew we were going to get some opportunities offensively," Talley said.
That's exactly what happened. By the end of the first half, Villanova had a commanding 21-0 cushion.
Wildcats quarterback Chris Whitney will get the headlines for his performance against No. 14 Richmond (4-4, 2-3), and with good reason.
The senior rushed 11 times for a game-high 118 yards. The highlight was a 45-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Whitney compiled 103 yards on just five carries in that quarter.
For the game, he completed 9 of 16 passes for 78 yards and two touchdowns.
Villanova's defense was just as dominating.
The Wildcats produced a tone-setting red-zone stop, surrendered just 59 rushing yards, and had two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. They also held White to 3 of 8 passing for 51 yards and an interception before he was replaced by Nick Hicks after intermission because of a second-quarter eye injury.
The most telling sign that Richmond would have a hard time scoring came early in the second quarter, when the Spiders had a first-and-goal chance at the Villanova 1-yard line.
Running back Kendall Gaskins rushed for no gain on first and second down. White's third-down pass to a wide-open Gaskins was incomplete. And on fourth down, Villanova linebacker Marquis Kirkland (11 tackles) and cornerback Eric Loper (four tackles, two pass breakups, interception) wrapped up running back Tyler Kirchoff for no gain.
It was "11 guys running to the ball," Kirkland said of the goal-line stand. "Everybody downhill. Everybody doing their job. It was the same thing we preach on defense all of the time."
Another defensive effort set up the Wildcats' final touchdown.
Defensive end Rakim Cox batted down a lateral by replacement quarterback Hicks. Unaware it was a live ball, safety John Dempsey celebrated with Cox before eventually picking up the ball and returning it 32 yards to the Richmond 12.
Seven plays later, Whitney threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to tight end Chris Farmer for the game's final score with 6 minutes, 20 seconds left.
Contact staff writer Keith Pompey at 610-313-8029 or firstname.lastname@example.org.