Villanova, Smith handle Colgate to open college football's 150th season
By CRAIG HALEY
STATS FCS Senior Editor
(STATS) - No matter the tough road assignment, Villanova has played with midseason form to open a new campaign under coach Mark Ferrante.
Now the Wildcats seek to build off the momentum of a 34-14 victory at No. 13 Colgate Saturday in Hamilton, New York - the first game of college football's 150th anniversary season.
Daniel Smith, a grad transfer from Campbell, led the way with four total touchdowns, throwing for three in the second quarter.
Villanova (1-0) has a 3-0 record on the road in season openers during the Ferrante era. Two years ago, the Wildcats won at eventual Patriot League co-champ Lehigh 38-35. Last year, they earned an FBS win over Temple 19-17.
Saturday's surprisingly decisive victory over the defending Patriot League champion was equally as impressive. Colgate led the FCS in defense and never trailed an opponent until its 10th game last season. But after a scoreless first quarter, Villanova built a 27-0 lead in the second when Smith connected on touchdowns with running back Jalen Jackson (18) and wide receivers Changa Hodge (45) and Andrew Perez (15) and cornerback Jaquan Amos returned an interception of Raiders quarterback Grant Breneman 27 yards for a score.
"We probably made some mental mistakes but at least our guys played hard and those two turnovers in the first half, especially the one that went back for a touchdown, was a pivotal part of the game for us," Ferrante said. "We're trying to stress the physical play and our guys answered that today."
Smith's Villanova debut was impressive. At Campbell's relatively young program, he needed only two seasons to set career records for total offense, rushing touchdowns, passing yards and passing touchdowns. Against Colgate (0-1), he completed 14 of 29 passes for 205 yards, also scoring on a 9-yard draw in the fourth quarter to make it 34-14.
Villanova outgained Colgate 444-288. Junior Justin Covington gained a career-high 134 yards on 19 carries.
The Wildcats were only picked ninth in the CAA Football preseason poll, but they have yet to turn a quick start under Ferrante into a banner campaign, finishing 5-6 in both of his first two seasons.
They improved to 5-1 all-time against Colgate and an even more impressive 33-4 against Patriot League teams. Up next are two more Patriot teams: Lehigh on Sept. 7 and Bucknell on Sept. 14.
Breneman was sacked four times, but he accounted for Colgate's two touchdowns with a 10-yard pass to wide receiver Nick Draught midway through the third quarter and a 1-yard fourth-down run early in the fourth.
The Raiders, who went 10-2 and reached the FCS quarterfinals last season, must regroup quickly because they make a trip to Air Force next Saturday.
"Today certainly was not the performance we were looking for," coach Dan Hunt said, "but if I know my guys, we're going to have a great practice Monday and get back after it."
Updated August 24, 2019