Penn, expected to be a contender in the Ivy League, has started out 0-2 for the second consecutive season.
Villanova rushed for 225 yards, the fourth straight week the Wildcats have gone over 200. Kevin Monangai rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Penn expected that, but was surprised with Robertson's passing proficiency.
"I thought he was the difference," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said of Robertson. "We knew he can make plays with his feet but we didn't anticipate him being able to effectively throw the ball as well as he did."
Linebacker Dillon Lucas and defensive lineman Rakim Cox led a Villanova defense that settled down after Penn's opening drive, one in which the Quakers' Connor Loftus was wide left on a 43-yard field goal attempt.
Lucas had six tackles and 11/2 tackles for loss while Cox registered two sacks.
Villanova junior Joe Price of Malvern Prep, who entered the game with three receptions for 52 yards, had five catches for 113 yards, all in the first half.
"This is certainly a confidence booster, but I do expect to play well every time out," Price said.
Bagnoli, who was coaching his 200th career game at Penn, said earlier in the week he would use two quarterbacks against the Wildcats because he wanted to get ready for the Ivy League schedule that begins next week at Dartmouth.
Starter Billy Ragone played most of the first half, and Andrew Holland played the entire second half. Bagnoli said Ragone will be the starter next week, but he was suffering from a bruised collarbone, so it was preplanned that he wouldn't take many snaps.
One bright spot for Penn was that it didn't commit any turnovers after having eight in their opening 28-21 loss at Lafayette.
The Penn defense was hanging in well, but then Robertson (8 carries, 55 yards) scored on a 26-yard scramble with 5:43 left in the third quarter to boost the lead to 17-0. With the way the Villanova defense was playing, that was more than enough.
Contact Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, firstname.lastname@example.org or @sjnard on Twitter.