Defense throws shutout, but Villanova produces complete Rhode Island rout – Delco Times

RADNOR – Villanova coach Mark Ferrante had a tip and a challenge as his fifth-ranked Wildcats prepared to face No. 18/19 Rhode Island on Saturday.

Don’t worry about the Rams, Ferrante told his team. Focus on yourself and the task. Ferrante also challenged the Wildcats to play four full quarterbacks. This is exactly what they did.

Playing at home for the first time in more than a month, the Wildcats played their most complete game of the season in a 44-0 homecoming against the Rams. The offense racked up 513 total yards, including 297 rushing. The defense threw their first shutout since a 31-0 win over Maine on Oct. 7, 2017 and forced four turnovers, while the special teams produced nine runs in the form of three field goals for Cole Bunce measuring 41, 36 and 43 yards.

Villanova running back DeeWil Barlee, right, looks to avoid a tackle from Jordan Jones of Rhode Island. Barlee ran for 99 yards as the Wildcats claimed a 44-0 victory. (Photo courtesy / Villanova Athletics).

The victory kept Villanova (6-1 overall, 4-0 CAA) in possession of first place, one game ahead of James Madison, William & Mary and Elon.

“Every game we go out, we always say it’s us versus us,” said free goaltender Ethan Potter. “The biggest opponent is ourselves.

Potter set the tone early on when he jumped on a fumble from Rhode Island quarterback Kasim Hill in the Rams’ first scrum game. Six games later, Jalen Jackson entered the one-yard end zone and the Wildcats were running.

“Anytime we can get a defensive turnaround early in the game that’s a huge boost for us,” said Potter, who finished with three solo tackles, three assists and a broken pass to accompany his fumble. . “We’re just trying to run every practice and hopefully things like that happen.”

It was the start of a stifling defense effort. The Wildcats limited the Rams (5-2, 3-2) to 165 yards of total attacking, 107 rushing and just 58 in the air, and forced four turnovers, which Villanova turned into 20 points.

The Wildcats’ defense was so strong that Rhode Island has not gone through the midfield in its last nine possessions with just 52 total yards in that span. Only three of these possessions lasted more than three pieces.

“It means a lot to us as a defense,” Potter said of the shutout. “We’re talking about giving the other team no hope and putting a zero on the board usually doesn’t give the other team any hope.”

The offense hasn’t given Rhode Island much of a chance either, even though frontman Justin Covington is on a daily basis with a minor knee injury. Jalen Jackson and Episcopal Academy graduate DeeWil Barlee more than made up for Covington’s absence.

Jackson had the best game of his career. He carried the ball 12 times for 104 yards and two touchdowns. It was the first 100-yard game of his career, and also the first time he scored twice in a game as a Wildcat. Her second touchdown was a 20-yard flurry that gave Villanova a 31-0 lead.

“Coach (Chris) Boden has been telling me all week, stay down until your number is called and when my number has been called I get the most out of it,” Jackson said about from the Wildcats offensive coordinator. “It meant a lot to me and I’m very happy that my O line is sticking there like they did. We got a few people down and the next man did his job. “

Barlee delivered a good 1-2 punch. He made 19 carries for 99 yards. Quarterback Daniel Smith also entered the scene, on the ground and in the air. He ran six times for 61 yards and completed 14 of 24 passes for 214 yards and two scores. Smith hit tight end Todd Summers with a five-yard pass in the first quarter and joined Rayjoun Pringle for a 23-yard run in the second period.

The offense was so effective she scored on eight of her 12 possessions, returned it only once, and kicked only twice. The other possession ended in a failed basket.

“I think our guys kept their focus, played with enthusiasm, played with passion and pretty much kept our cool during the four quarters,” Ferrante said. “I’m really happy, obviously; (a) defensive shutout and very happy with the way we moved the ball in attack and Cole scored the number of baskets he scored today. It was a full three-phase effort from our team.

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