Villanova backup quarterback Robertson outplays starter in loss

The Owls' Olaniyi Adewole (56) sacks Villanova's Chris Polony, who completed just two passes.
The Owls' Olaniyi Adewole (56) sacks Villanova's Chris Polony, who completed just two passes. (DAVID SWANSON / Staff)
Posted: September 01, 2012

It took less than a half of football Friday night for a quarterback controversy, or at least a change behind center, to occur for Villanova.

Wildcats redshirt freshman John Robertson, who didn't win the job in spring practice, made his case during a solid opening performance that wasn't matched by his team.

Coming in late in the first half and remaining at quarterback the remainder of the game, Robertson gave the offense momentary life during a 41-10 loss to Temple in the season opener for both teams at Lincoln Financial Field.

It was the second straight decisive win for Temple in the Mayor's Cup. The Owls won last year, 42-7.

Sophomore quarterback Chris Polony ended last season as the Villanova starter and began Friday in the same position. At least for one night, he didn't hold the spot very long.

Polony is known as a passer, while Robertson is considered more dangerous with his legs. Yet Robertson threw the ball fairly well and ran it effectively. Whether that will be enough for the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Paramus, N.J., product to start in next Saturday's home opener against Fordham remains to be seen.

Robertson completed 9 of 17 passes for 135 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions. He rushed for 78 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.

"We got a nice spark from John Robertson and decided to stick with him," Villanova coach Andy Talley said.

Talley said he doesn't like going with two quarterbacks, but he wouldn't commit to a starter for the Fordham game.

"It is something we have to evaluate this week," Talley said.

The coach hadn't planned on playing Robertson as much.

"We were pretty set on Chris Polony, and some things didn't happen for him today," Talley said. "He was pressured a lot."

Robertson, who made a brief appearance earlier, got an extended chance with three minutes left in the first half and the Wildcats trailing 21-3. He culminated a seven-play, 69-yard drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. After that Villanova would move the ball but not into the end zone.

"I think I did pretty well tonight," Robertson said. "I have a lot to improve on. Definitely passing-wise there were a lot of open guys I missed."

After Robertson's score, in a true backbreaker, Villanova gave the momentum right back on the next series when Temple's Matt Brown darted outside on third and 7 for a 56-yard touchdown and a 28-10 lead with 21 seconds left in the half.

Polony completed 2 of 7 passes for 18 yards. He also had one interception, which was returned by Temple's Vaughn Carraway for a touchdown. In addition, Polony gained 6 yards on 5 carries.

"John did really well," Polony said. "I didn't perform as well as I should have and they decided to go with him in the second half."

Contact Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, or on Twitter @sjnard.

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