Villanova's 31-9 blowout victory over Lehigh on Saturday at Goodman Stadium looked nothing like its 2017 matchup against the Mountain Hawks. The Wildcats, the No. 12 ranked team in the FCS, narrowly beat Lehigh 38-35 last season.
And for senior quarterback Zach Bednarczyk, he's also hoping that his final year on the Main Line doesn't mirror 2017. Last year, Bednarczyk only played five games because of a season-ending knee injury he suffered against Towson.
"I think he's the best quarterback in the [Colonial Athletic Association], maybe even the country," senior wideout Jarrett McClenton said. "It's just great having him back."
But Bednarczyk started off sloppy against Lehigh on Saturday. He threw a couple off-target passes and one interception to junior linebacker Keith Woetzel, which got tipped off the hands of senior tight end Ryan Bell.
Bednarczyk's interception led to a drive where senior kicker Ed Mish chipped in a 21-yard field goal, which gave the Mountain Hawks a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
However, Bednarczyk responded to the turnover and led the Wildcats to touchdowns on three of their next four possessions. He finished the game 16-for-29 passing with 215 yards and three touchdowns.
"I think we just started a little slow," Bednarczyk said. "The penalties were killing us today. We were able to overcome some of those penalties, but it's hard to score when you put yourself in second-and-long and third-and-long situations.
"The guys up front did pretty well for me today, and Jarrett [McClenton] made a couple of great plays that helped me get in my groove early."
And one of those plays Bednarczyk made to McClenton came on third down.
The Wildcats were 3-for-14 on third down against Lehigh, which wasn't as efficient as their 8-for-16 mark they posted last week against Temple.
Nevertheless, Bednarczyk made crucial plays on third down to extend drives that resulted in touchdowns.
On a third-and-16 in the second quarter, Bednarczyk lofted a pass to McClenton for a 62-yard touchdown that gave Villanova a 14-3 lead. McClenton led the Wildcats in receiving in the victory with six receptions for a career-high 114 yards and two touchdowns.
McClenton said him and Bednarczyk spent extra time together after practice throughout the summer on timing and running routes in preparation for the season. McClenton and Bednarczyk have hooked up for three touchdowns in two games to start off the year.