Villanova faces tough task vs. Towson

Villanova's Poppy Livers made six receptions for 42 yards Saturday against William and Mary.
Villanova's Poppy Livers made six receptions for 42 yards Saturday against William and Mary. (MICHAEL BRYANT / Staff)
Posted: October 12, 2013

Not since opening against Football Bowl Subdivision opponent Boston College has Villanova found itself in an underdog role, yet that is the Wildcats' status for Saturday's 7 p.m. game at Towson.

Villanova (3-2, 2-0 Colonial Athletic Association) has won three in a row and is ranked No. 15 in the Football Championship Subdivision coaches poll.

Towson (6-0, 2-0) is ranked No. 2 and received one of the 26 first-place votes, with top-ranked North Dakota State receiving 25.

The Tigers are averaging 40.8 points while allowing 16.3. Villanova is averaging 25.6 points and allowing 15.8.

Add the fact that Towson won last year's matchup, 49-35, and it's easy to see why the Tigers are favored. Then again, Villanova coach Andy Talley doesn't necessarily see it that way.

"We never think we are the underdog," said Talley, whose team is coming off a last-minute, 20-16 comeback win over William and Mary. "We feel like we have been around town for a while and everybody feels Villanova is a pretty good football program, so we are going down thinking we can win the game."

That said, Talley suggested Villanova would have to play an almost perfect game to do so.

The most difficult task appears to be shutting down Terrance West, who Talley says is the best running back in the FCS.

A 5-foot-11, 223-pound junior, West has rushed for 886 yards (5.8 average) and 15 touchdowns. In his 21/2 seasons, he has rushed for 3,226 yards (5.9 average) and 58 touchdowns.

During last year's win over Villanova, West rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries and caught a 78-yard scoring pass.

West was named co-FCS offensive player of the week after rushing for 238 yards and three touchdowns in last week's 44-28 win over New Hampshire. He helped the Tigers overcome an early 20-3 deficit.

"I think we can stop him," said Villanova junior linebacker Joey Harmon, who has a team-high 49 tackles after recording 12 last week. "We stopped Stony Brook, they are a run-heavy team, so I think we can meet the challenge."

The Wildcats held Stony Brook to 87 rushing yards and a 2.7 average.

On offense, Villanova junior receiver Poppy Livers has enjoyed consecutive strong outings. He had two touchdown receptions, the first two of his career, in a 24-8 win over Penn, and had six receptions for 42 yards last week.

"I feel like the coaches have been calling my number, and I told the coaches I would be up to the challenge," Livers said.

And now Villanova hopes to be up for the challenge against Towson.

"Last year we gave up 49 points, and that was nowhere near acceptable for our defense," Harmon said. "We have been watching film and learning from our mistakes, and it's not going to happen again because we are hungry."


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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