Wildcats fall to Army West Point, 49-10, in first team meeting in 45 years



Saturday’s annual game against an FBS opponent was Villanova’s last regular season non-conference game

The score of the box

WEST POINT, NY—In their annual game against an FBS No. 7 opponent, Villanova (2-1) traded the first two scores of the game with Army West Point (1-2) before the Black Knights secured a 49-10 win at the stadium. Michie on Saturday afternoon. Junior Quarterback Connor Watkins (Williamsport, Pennsylvania) threw a five-yard touchdown pass to the junior wide receiver Rayjuon Pringle (Woodbridge, Virginia) with 5:27 left in the first quarter and finished the day with 134 of 173 total rushing yards the Wildcats recorded.

The match was the fourth in Villanova history and the first in 53 years in which the opponent did not record a complete pass. Army West Point ran the ball on 55 of 56 offensive plays and generated 472 rushing yards, the most the Wildcats have ever allowed in a single game. The Black Knights’ lone pass attempt is the weakest ever in a match by a Villanova opponent. The passing game was a deep ball on the third-and-eight from the Army West Point nine-yard line in the second quarter and was interrupted by the sophomore cornerback. Kshawn Schulters (Roselle, New Jersey).

“It was a tough game,” said the Wildcats head coach Marc Ferrante said. “It’s difficult to play an attack like that because you can never simulate the precision and speed with which they are going to execute it, no matter how well you do it in training. It’s going to take a little time to adjust We thought we had a pretty good plan but we’ll have to watch the movie I tell guys all the time that if we come out on top or it’s an outcome like this that is never as good or as bad [on the film]. There will be things we can build on, positives, and then obviously there will be a decent amount of corrections [things]. I give them the 24-hour rule; celebrate for 24 hours or leave this one behind in 24 hours and then move on to the next game.”

Early in the game, the Wildcats were given the opening kickoff and went out three times before the Black Knights began their first drive of the game from their own 32-yard line. Army West Point rushed for 68 yards in five plays and scored the game’s first points on a seven-yard touchdown by Tyhier Tyler with 10:50 left in the opening period. Villanova responded to that touchdown with one of their own just over five minutes later, however.

Watkins led the Wildcats downfield for an 11-game, 75-yard run in 5:23 that resulted in Pringle’s second touchdown reception of the season. Senior running back DeeWil Barlee (Upper Darby, Pennsylvania) rushed 22 yards on the drive and Watkins converted fourth-and-six from the Black Knight’s 37-yard line with a 17-yard run that put Villanova in the red zone for the only time in the game. Senior running back Jalen Jackson (Richmond, Virginia) gained 15 yards on three straight carries before Watkins completed the drive.

The only other points for the Wildcats came with 8:27 left in the third quarter when the kicker graduated Matthew Mercury (Salinas, California) threw a 40-yard field goal. It was the 10e career field goal of 40 or more yards for Mercurio and the first of his career at Villanova. The San Jose State transfer had played at Michie Stadium once before and was 4-for-4 on field goal attempts in a 34-29 win for the Spartans over Army West Point on October 26, 2019 .

Watkins finished the day 12 of 21 through the air for 74 yards with the touchdown pass and two interceptions. He also ran for a season-high 60 net yards on 10 carries. Pringle had a season-high six catches for 54 yards, Jackson rushed for 39 yards on 10 carries and Barlee carried six times for 36 yards.

junior linebacker Timmy Furgeson (Gaithersburg, Maryland) led the Wildcats defense with a record eight tackles. Redshirt freshman linebacker Shane Hartzell (Perkasie, Pennsylvania) and second defensive lineman Bryce Ganieux (Houston, TX) had seven tackles apiece, with Hartzell recording a 12-yard sack late in the fourth quarter.

After Villanova tied the score at 7-7 in the first quarter, the Black Knights took the lead for good with 1:20 left in the first period on Tyler’s 23-yard run. It ended up being the first of three unanswered touchdowns for Army West Point, which took a 28-7 lead with 13:11 left in the third period. Three more touchdowns for the Black Knights followed Mercurio’s field goal to close the scoring.

Four different players had 55 or more rushing yards for Army West Point, including Tyson Riley who rushed for 158 yards and a touchdown on a record 21 carries. The last game in which a Wildcats opponent failed to complete a pass was November 5, 1969 against William & Mary. The previous record for the fewest pass attempts by a Villanova opponent was three by Miami, Florida on November 1, 1957. The previous record for rushing yards in a game against the Wildcats was 436 yards by Rhode Island on October 22, 2005.

Villanova faced the Black Knights for the 22n/a times overall, but the first time in the Wildcats era as an FCS program that began in 1985. Army West Point leads the all-time series by a 19-3 margin, with the previous game before Saturday having had place in 1977 when the Black Knights scored a 34-32 victory. All 22 games in the series were played at West Point.

Saturday’s game was the second straight road game in New York for Villanova, which was also playing its last non-conference game of the regular season. Next week, the Wildcats open conference will play with a home game against CAA Football newcomer Monmouth. Kick-off at Villanova Stadium next Saturday is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.


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