By: Karuga Koinange, Sports Editor
Photo by Jordan Cope / The Towerlight
Despite forcing four turnovers and facing Villanova’s backup quarterback for most of the game, Towson dropped its second straight Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) contest Saturday night at Johnny Unitas Stadium, 24-9, to the 17th ranked team in the FCS.
The Wildcats (3-2, 1-1 CAA) executed a strong opening drive despite losing their star junior quarterback, Zach Bednarczyk, to an apparent right leg injury. Their offense did not miss a beat the entire game in his absence.
“I thought we were good enough to win,” Head Coach Rob Ambrose said. “I think Villanova did a better job at managing their injuries than we did, and that’s on me.”
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jack Schetelich, who relieved Bednarczyk, capped off the drive with a seven-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Taurus Phillips.
The Tigers (2-3, 0-2 CAA) looked to strike back in their first drive of the ballgame, but failed on a fourth-down conversion in Wildcats territory.
On the Wildcats second drive, the Tigers defense forced and recovered a fumble to give the ball back to their offense. Junior defensive back Lyrics Klugh forced the fumble that was recovered by freshman defensive back Coby Tippett.
Towson couldn’t capitalize on the early turnover, but got another chance midway through the second quarter when redshirt junior safety Monty Fenner picked off a pass from Schetelich at midfield.
Following Fenner’s big play, redshirt freshman quarterback Ryan Stover connected with redshirt junior wide receiver Sam Gallahan for a 38-yard gain.
On the next play, Stover completed a nine-yard pass to junior wide receiver Jabari Greenwood on put Towson near the goal line. Stover finished the drive with a three-yard touchdown run, but a missed extra point kept the team behind on the scoreboard, 7-6.
Fenner recorded his second interception of the night on the Wildcats next possession, but neither team scored for the rest of the first half as the visitors took a 7-6 lead into the intermission.
Towson started the second half with a slow-paced drive, keeping the ball on the ground on 11 out of 17 plays. The team marched into the red zone thanks to a mix of runs from Stover and freshman running back Adrian Feliz-Platt, but had to settle for a 27-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Aidan O’Neill.
“You gotta find a guy on offense that you can count on, on the regular,” Ambrose said. “Right now we are massively inconsistent with that.”
Following Towson’s score, Villanova returned the ball into Towson territory on the ensuing kickoff and converted on a 46-yard field goal to go up 10-9 heading into the fourth quarter.
Early in the final stanza, redshirt sophomore linebacker Keon Paye hauled in an interception to give the Tigers a chance to regain the lead, but a fumble by Stover erased the scoring opportunity and put the Wildcats in good field position.
With a short field, Schetelich punched in an eight-yard touchdown run to extend Villanova’s lead to 17-9. Towson missed a field goal and committed another turnover later in the quarter, while the Wildcats added another touchdown to secure the win. Towson’s offensive woes appear to stem from the lack of a go-to player.
Towson will enjoy a bye week before returning to action Oct. 14, at Johnny Unitas Stadium, when the team hosts host No. 15 Richmond on Family Weekend.