Villanova runs past University of Maine football team in Black Bears’ CAA opener

Posted Sept. 29, 2012, at 7:12 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 30, 2012, at 4:21 p.m.
University of Maine quarterback Marcus Wasilewski runs into the end zone for a touchdown during the first quarter of Saturday's Colonial Athletic Association football game against Villanova at Alfond Stadium in Orono. The Wildcats beat the Black Bears 35-14.
Michael C. York | AP
University of Maine quarterback Marcus Wasilewski runs into the end zone for a touchdown during the first quarter of Saturday's Colonial Athletic Association football game against Villanova at Alfond Stadium in Orono. The Wildcats beat the Black Bears 35-14.

ORONO, Maine — In football, statistics sometimes can be a little deceiving.

Take, for instance, the University of Maine’s 409 passing yards Saturday afternoon against Villanova University.

While a nice number, it did not, by a long shot, portend a positive outcome for the Black Bears.

A statistic more indicated of the day was Villanova’s 314 rushing yards. The Wildcats dominated up front, setting a physical tone in their 35-14 Colonial Athletic Association victory over the Black Bears at damp, chilly Alfond Stadium.

Kevin Monangai established career highs with 30 carries for 192 yards and scored two touchdowns to help Villanova (4-1, 2-0 CAA) hand UMaine (1-3, 0-1 CAA) its second straight loss.

“I thought our inability to stop the run — they ran the ball very well, — established not only a physical but a mental dominance,” said UMaine head coach Jack Cosgrove.

Quarterback John Robertson (14 carries, 79 yards., 1 TD) was instrumental in the effort and the redshirt freshman also completed 11 of 16 passes for 128 yards and two scores with an interception.

Norman White made four catches for 51 yards and a TD.

“They want to try to stack the box on us and try to stop our run,” Robertson said. “So if they’re one-on-one with Norm and Joe Price (3 rec., 43 yds., 1 TD), we’ve got two really good receivers out there that they can’t guard one-on-one.”

UMaine was unable to move the ball consistently against the Wildcats, who racked up seven sacks of Wasilewski. When all was said and done, the junior quarterback established career bests for completions (31) and passing yards (409), but threw for only one score and was intercepted twice.

Senior wide receiver Maurice McDonald caught 10 balls for 93 yards, eclipsing 100 receptions and 1,000 yards for his career. Derrick Johnson added six catches for 44 yards.

The Black Bears were forced to throw more often after spotting the Wildcats a 28-7 lead early in the third quarter. UMaine ran the ball only eight times in the second half and finished with 11 net yards on the ground.

Villanova harassed Wasilewski effectively with its assortment of pressures and sacked him seven times, including two by Devon Bridges.

“We knew they were a blitz-heavy team coming into the game. That’s part of their defensive philosophy,” said Wasilewski, who was knocked down a handful of other times.

“They’re a good team, a good defense, a very fast, athletic defense,” he added.

Ronnie Akins spearheaded the defense with eight tackles, while Antoine Lewis (1 sack) and Joe Sarnese made seven each.

Villanova led 21-7 at halftime, then took command by scoring on its opening drive of the third quarter. It covered 68 yards and 10 plays, including eight runs.

Robertson’s 10-yard scramble around right end made it a three-score advantage.

“They have a good running team. I thought we did a good job against the pass,” said cornerback Kendall James, who led the Bears with 10 tackles.

“They were getting around the corner so fast. I had to make a good tackle most of the time,” he added.

Linebacker Donte Dennis logged nine tackles, Axel Ofori forced a fumble and Doug Alston made an interception.

Villanova pushed the lead to 35-7 early in the fourth quarter on Monanai’s 4-yard run, while UMaine would scratch out only one second-half score, on a 69-yard hookup between Wasilewski and Arthur Williams.

That was all the Bears could muster.

“I’m really proud with the way we came at that,” Wasilewski said of dealing with the deficit. “We never put our heads down and kept battling throughout the football game.”

The Wildcats jumped on the Bears for 21 first-quarter points.

Villaova opened the game by racing 74 yards on only five plays, including Robertson’s 27-yard scoring toss down the left sideline to White. Villanova led 7-0 with less than two minutes gone.

UMaine responded, going 76 yards on five plays. Wasilewski completed passes of 20 and 45 yards to Johnson and Rickey Stevens, respectively, to set up Wasilewski’s 7-yard TD scramble.

Brian Harvey’s PAT made it 7-7 4:37 into the game.

Villanova went back in front after Shane Harris picked off a Wasilewski pass that glanced off McDonald’s hands. The Wildcats needed six plays to cover 49 yards, with Robertson throwing to a wide-open Price for a 26-yard touchdown.

The PAT made it 14-7 with 4:56 left in the quarter.

“I think we did dominate the line of scrimmage,” said Villanova coach Andy Talley. “Any time you can run the ball for 314 yards, it’s a pretty good day.”

The Wildcats got on the board again after the Bears failed to cash in on Alston’s interception. Harvey’s 41-yard field-goal try was blocked by Rakim Cox.

Villanova went back on the march with a run-pass blend and racked up five first downs before Monangai carried 13 yards for a TD at the 9:51 mark.

“That’s what they do,” Cosgrove said. “They had great success.”

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