Football Falls in Shootout in FCS Playoffs

The 2019 season ended in heartbreaking fashion for Villanova, as the Wildcats lost their first round playoff matchup on Saturday, 45-44, to Southeastern Louisiana. The Wildcats led for the majority of the game, but could not put together a game winning drive at the end. 

Villanova was the first team to score, as junior kicker Drew Kresge connected on a 38-yard field goal. After a Southeastern Louisiana touchdown, ‘Nova went on a seven play, 63-yard drive that ended on a four-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Todd Summers. In the second quarter, the Wildcats put up three touchdowns, all on big plays. A 78-yard pick six from freshman defensive back Elijah Glover, a 53-yard run for junior quarterback Daniel Smith and a 57-yard touchdown pass to freshman receiver Jaaron Hayek, all contributed to Villanova’s 31-14 halftime lead.

The third quarter was all in favor of the Lions, who scored 17 unanswered points to tie the game at 31. The ‘Cats retook the lead when Daniel Smith connected with Todd Summers once again, this time for a one-yard touchdown. Southeastern Louisiana then embarked on an 11-play, 65-yard drive to tie the game once again with six minutes remaining. With the ball at midfield and four minutes remaining, Villanova would score its final touchdown. Smith fired a 50-yard strike to junior receiver Changa Hodge, but Kresge missed the extra point. This proved to be fatal to the ‘Cats, as the Lions would score on fourth and goal with just under two minutes left and convert the extra point, taking a 45-44 lead. Villanova looked like they had a game winning play on a 50-yard pass to Jaaron Hayek, but a questionable pass interference call wiped it away. Facing fourth and nine, 39 yards from the end zone, Smith’s final pass went just out of the reach of Hayek.

Smith once again played a strong game, throwing for 283 yards and running for 90, along with five touchdowns and no turnovers. T.D. Ayo-Durojaiye paced the three freshman running backs with nine carries for 61 yards. Jaaron Hayek and Changa Hodge both had six catches and a touchdown, while tight end Todd Summers had 59 receiving yards and two touchdowns. On defense, Elijah Glover’s pick six was the first interception of his college career. Sophomore defensive back Christian Benford also had an interception. Junior linebacker Forrest Rhyne had eleven tackles to lead the team, and junior defensive back Jaquan Amos had seven tackles.

Villanova ends the season with a record of 9-4, four games better than last year’s campaign. The ‘Cats also made their first FCS playoff appearance since 2016.