Then, on the first play of the ensuing possession, Eric Loper intercepted Georgia State quarterback Ben McLane and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown that put it out of reach by halftime.
"I think those are always turnaround factors for you," Villanova coach Andy Talley said. "The pick six is devastating because it happened so quick. It can really hurt . . . when you're trying to come back."
The defense certainly helped, but the Villanova offense made it look very easy for most of the night.
It wasn't a big-play offense but an efficient one that ate up this Panthers defense, which entered the game ranked last in the CAA. In the first half, Villanova didn't have any plays longer than 33 yards and no pass plays longer than 25.
Instead, the Wildcats had drives of six, seven and 12 plays, methodically grinding out yardage to open up a commanding early lead that allowed them to start getting backups some work early in the second half.
"That's our offense; we take care of the little things," said Monangai, who finished with 18 carries for 132 yards, his second consecutive 100-yard game. "We just stuck to what we know, and it worked out for us."
This was the seventh time in eight games the Wildcats have amassed 200 rushing yards. In the first quarter, Poppy Livers had Villanova's first punt return for a touchdown since 1980.