After what was predicted to be an offensive battle, the Villanova Wildcats (2-0) defeated the Mountain Hawks (1-1) by a score of 31-9, Saturday afternoon at Goodman Stadium.
The Wildcats put up a total of 405 offensive yards compared to Lehigh’s 176. However, the key to Lehigh’s offense was missing, senior running back Dominick Bragalone.
Bragalone suffered a head injury during a play in the second quarter. He did not return to the game.
“We are going to have a hard time offensively when we can’t run the football,” coach Andy Coen said. “We play our best when we are balanced, and today we weren’t balanced.”
Senior Wildcat wide receiver Jarrett McClenton had six catches for 114 yards with two touchdowns including an impressive 65-yard grab on third down to set up Villanova in the red zone.
“I know Zach (Bednarczyk) is looking for me on plays like that, we’ve been working on them all summer,” McClenton said. However, McClenton said he was just excited to have Bednarczyk back, whom suffered a knee injury last season.
“I think he’s the best quarterback in the Colonial Athletic Association and maybe even the country,” McClenton said. “It’s just great having him back.”
Bednarczyk threw for three touchdowns and 215 yards, compared to Lehigh’s senior quarterback Brad Mayes who only put up 144 yards and a lone touchdown late the fourth quarter.
The Mountain Hawks’ struggle on offense was most apparent on third down situations, in which Lehigh only converted twice on the day out of 15 attempts. In all, the team achieved just 10 first downs, allowing Villanova to dominate the time of possession.
“When we thought we were going to have a big play, the kids would just knock down the ball out of our hands,” Coen said. “It was certainly not our best game.”
Despite the score, the defense was able to flash some positive signs against a very tough Wildcat offense. The unit was building on its momentum from last week’s win against Saint Francis.
Senior linebacker Mark Walker had a total of 11 tackles and one sack. Close behind him were senior defensive backs Sam McCloskey and Donavon Harris, who tallied eight and seven tackles, respectively.
Walker said he thought they did a good job today at making several key stops, but Villanova is just a team with a really good defense and a really good offense. In order to prevent a high-caliber team from making big plays, the key for Lehigh is to get a tackle for loss on first and second down, he said.
“At some place they got us,” Walker said.
Next Saturday, the Mountain Hawks will face the Navy Midshipmen at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. That matchup that will prove tough for the Mountain Hawks — the strong program at Navy is 15-6 all-time against Lehigh. However, the two sides haven’t played since 1987.
Walker said that the Mountain Hawks have a lot to prepare for, but the right coaches to help them.