Villanova needs a win to stay in playoff hunt

Villanova quarterback John Robertson is tackled while reaching for a first down. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)
Villanova quarterback John Robertson is tackled while reaching for a first down. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)
Posted: November 02, 2013

Earlier this week, Villanova football coach Andy Talley admitted to having the blues. "After two brutal losses in a row I am in a funk," he said.

So is his team, which lost those two games by a total of three points. Two weeks ago, it was a 29-28 loss at New Hampshire, when the winners scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion with 14 seconds left.

Last week, Villanova lost to visiting Maine, 37-35.

Even though Villanova is 4-4 overall and 3-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association, the Wildcats could still earn an at-large bid for the Football Championship Subdivision tournament if they win their final three games. It wouldn't be guaranteed, but another loss would likely cement Villanova's exclusion.

The Wildcats are ranked 20th nationally by the Sports Network and 22d in the FCS coaches poll. The top 24 teams will qualify for the FCS playoffs.

The Wildcats (4-4, 3-2 CAA) will travel to Harrisonburg, Va., Saturday for a conference matchup against James Madison (5-3, 2-2). JMU is ranked 23d by the FCS coaches.

"We are hanging by our fingernails and have a lot of kids banged up," said Talley, whose team also must play Rhode Island and playoff contender Delaware.

The Wildcats are especially depleted at receiver, where Joe Price is out with a back injury. Talley said slot receiver Jamal Abdur-Rahman underwent season-ending knee surgery for a meniscus tear. Receiver Mike Burke is out with a high-ankle sprain.

Sophomore quarterback John Robertson will have to continue to carry the offense, especially with his running. Last week, he rushed for 214 yards and four touchdowns on 22 carries in the loss to Maine.

Robertson has rushed for 1,063 yards and 15 touchdowns. He needs 541 yards to break Brian Westbrook's single-season mark of 1,603 set in 2001.

JMU coach Mickey Matthews said he tried hard to recruit the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Robertson. "We think he is a great kid and he's a player with a tremendously strong upper body," Matthews said. "People can't tackle him."

JMU is led by Stephon Robertson, a redshirt senior linebacker. Last week he had 15 tackles, including a sack, along with a forced fumble in a 17-7 loss at William and Mary.


mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard

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