In what could be one of the key plays of the game, Billy Ragone makes a first down on a QB sneak by the stripe of the ball on fourth and one inch from inside the Penn 40. On the next play, Eric Loper of VU gambles and just misses a pick six that Matt Tuten catches and takes to the Wildcat 31.
Aaron Ball was close to breaking free for a long TD run for VU with two minutes left in the third quarter, but he was stripped of the ball and Penn recovered. Still Villanova 9, Penn 7, late in the third period.
Still 9-7 Villanova over Penn with 10:52 left in the third quarter after Quaker kicker Andrew Sampson just misses a 38-yard field goal attempt after the opening drive of the second half.
Matt Szczur's night is apparently done. He returned without his pads on in the second half. Lyle Marsh of Penn is also out with some sort of chest injury. The worst injury of the night could be a left knee problem suffered by VU starting linebacker Anthony Johnson in the first half on Penn's scoring drive. This has been a very physical game thus far.
And here are some first-half stats for the game:
Penn 56 yards rushing, 35 passing for 91 total on 28 plays. Lyle Marsh has 8 carries for 40 yards.
Villanova 45 yards rushing , 47 passing for 92 total on 23 plays. Chris Whitney has 69 of the Wildcats' 92 yards and Angelo Babbaro has 93 all-purpose yards, including 59 on the kick return that set up VU's touchdown.
As the teams head for the locker room, it's Villanova 9, Penn 7 at the half. Penn's defense has lived up to its billing so far. If there is an FCS team that plays with more intelligence and discipline on defense than the Quakers, I don't know who it is.
Angelo Babbaro comes to the rescue for Villanova and scores from three-yards out from Wildcat formation to make it 9-7 Wildcats with 6:20 remaining in the first half.
The momentum tide changed quickly when a bad snap over Ragone's head led to a safety for the Wildcats at the 9:50 mark and Angelo Babbaro returned the ensuing free kick to the Penn 42.
Five minutes ago, Montana looked dead as dead can be. But that was before Justin Roper made some huge throws and a key first-down run to set up one TD pass and then another big-time completion on fourth down for another score. He missed on a two-point conversion pass, but it is 35-33 Cal Poly with 5:25 remaining.
Montana also got a huge break when Cal Poly QB Doug Shumway fumbled before the second score. Either the referee was scratching his butt, or reaching for his flag (you could see it live and on the replay), but he decided not to call the penalty. Ouch.
Still looking at a great finish.
This is beginning to look like the most sappy football movie you've ever seen. Cal Poly's third-string QB, Doug Shumway, has come on to throw touchdown passes on the last two Mustang drives to give Cal Poly a 35-20 lead with 10 minutes to play.
In a battle of All-Americans, Domonique Johnson beat Trumaine Johnson on a fade route on the latest TD, even though Domonique was flagged for pass interference.
Montana just picked up a huge first down from Justin Roper to Antwon Moutra to keep the Griz alive.
And the game gets revved up a few notches. After a shanked punt by Cal Poly's Chris Pinto results in another Brody McKnight field goal from 28 yards, Cal Poly scores 14 points in a heartbeat on an 83-yard pass play from third-string QB Doug Shumway to David Mahr and Matt Vinal picks off a Andrew Selle pass and goes through traffic for 45 yards and a 28-20 Cal Poly lead. And that just three quarters of play. One more to go.
Just had a press box pow wow with one of my favorite former FCS players, Buchanan Award-winning, Cal Poly linebacker Kyle Shotwell. Great kid. He is working as a salesman in Santa Barbara after a year on the Cal Poly staff.
On the field, Cal Poly's James Langford barely missed a 50-yard field goal and Montana's Brody McKnight barely made a 27-yarder after a low snap. A bad Cal Poly punt has Montana driving with a 17-14 lead at the five-minute mark of the third period.
Another "targeting" penalty on Montana deep in Griz territory, but Tony Smith fumbles the ball away at the one and Tyrone Duncan (Hobbs' replacement) recovers asMontana gets a huge stop. It's 14-14 late in the second quarter.
Some first-half thoughts:
Montana quarterback Andrew Selle (usually one of the top deep passers in FCS) has completed a couple of long throws to Jabin Sambrano, but has been high on several throws in the middle of the field.
The Grizzlies have also hurt themselves with penalties in this game. Tyler Hobbs has two roughing the passer flags to extend Mustang drives, Montana was called for "targeting" when a tackler went helmet to helmet with Cal Poly quarterback Tony Smith for another major foul.
Backup QB Justin Roper had an intentional grounding penalty to avoid a sack and a delay of game flag cost the Grizzlies a chance for a Brody McKnight field goal from 49 yards. After that play, 6-foot-6 punter Sean Wren uncorked a 10-yard punt.