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David Coulson

Villanova @ Stephen F. Austin

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The matchup between defending national champion Villanova and Stephen F. Austin is like a clash of cultures, as well as divergent teams.

You have the all-business Wildcats going against the fun-loving Lumberjacks.

SFA, led by quarterback Jeremy Moses, found their way around the bar scene last year in the quarterfinals at Missoula, Mt. and were whacked 51-0 by Montana.

The Lumberjacks committed 10 turnovers that day.

A couple of weeks later, Villanova was all business when it met Montana in the Football Championship Subdivision title game. Then the Wildcats went out and ground out a 23-21 victory over the Grizzlies.

This year, SFA rolled through the regular season for the first back-to-back Southland Conference crowns in school history, while Villanova struggled through an injury-plagued campaign.

But the Wildcats beat arch-rival and then-top-ranked Delaware in the final game of the regular season to squeeze into the 20-team field with an at-large berth.

On the field, SFA is the consumate run and gun, wide-open passing team, while Villanova like to pound teams into submission behind what James Madison coach Mickey Matthews called "the best offensive line in CAA history" earlier this season.

It is definitely a matchup of contrasts and should be a great game today at SFA.

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  1. dcoulson's Avatar
    Keeping with the game of contrasts theme, this game has had plenty of them in the first half.

    SFA built a 21-7 lead early, scoring on its first two possessions and taking advantage of a Villanova fumble to set up a third.

    But Villanova came back strong to cut it to 24-17 and then safety John Dempsey intercepted a Jeremy Moses pass when Moses threw into a triangle of Wildcat defenders on a bad read.

    Facing a fourth and nine on the ensuing drive, Villanova stunned the Lumberjacks with a fake field goal as holder Marlon Calbi jumped up and hit Norman White for a 13-yard touchdown. It was White's second TD catch of the day.

    The Lumberjacks fell apart on their next drive with time management to set up a TD pass from Chris Whitney to Mikey Reynolds to make it 31-24 at the 33-second mark.

    SFA then showed more special teams disaster on the kickoff and Jacob Wade recovered a Crawford fumble for the Wildcats at the 25 with 28 seconds left.

    Caleb Nelson could have given SFA a lift when Chris Whitney threw what looked like an interception, but Nelson dropped a ball that was gift-wrapped for him.

    Mark Hamilton came on for a 38-yard field goal attempt on the last play of the half and drilled it to give Villanova a 34-24 lead after a 27-3 burst to end the second quarter.
  2. dcoulson's Avatar
    The troubles continued for SFA to start the second half. Jeremy Moses made some nice passes to get the Lumberjacks into scoring position with four straight completions before linebacker Marquis Kirkland intercepted a pass with some nice deceptive coverage. I expected Moses to have trouble with the Villanova defensive looks and this is his first two interception game of the season.

    On the ensuing possession, SFA's secondary knocked away a potential Villanova TD pass to keep it a 10-point game, but the Lumberjacks muffed another punt as the horrific special teams play contiined for Stephen F. Austin.
  3. dcoulson's Avatar
    Opponents of Villanova need to be scared, very scared as 2009 playoff MVP Matt Szczur looks to be almost back to 100%. Szczur has made a couple of nice runs from Wildcat formation to help Villanova get into scoring position. Szczur already has 15 touches today.

    Chris Whitney just ran a QB draw to give the Wildcats a first down at the SFA eight.
    Updated 12-04-2010 at 04:58 PM by dcoulson
  4. dcoulson's Avatar
    Villanova is three of three on fourth-down conversions, but went for a 30-yard field goal to make it 37-24 with 6:17 left in the third period.
  5. dcoulson's Avatar
    Jeremy Moses continues to struggle, almost throwing two interceptions on the current SFA drive. He looks anything but a potential Payton Award winner today.
  6. dcoulson's Avatar
    On fourth and goal from the one, SFA surprisingly ran a Keith Lawson draw play, but it was a big mistake as Marquis Kirkland and Thomas Weaver made the stop. Villanova killed a Lumberjack drive that took 12 plays and over three minutes.

    It is 37-24 Nova with less than two minutes to play in the third period. If the Wildcats can go 98 yards here, this game will be pretty much over.
  7. dcoulson's Avatar
    Just learned that Dorian Wells, one of Nova's senior receivers had ruptured a spleen in practice on Monday to end his career. Sorry to hear this for a good kid and a player who has stepped up big for the Wildcats this season.
  8. dcoulson's Avatar
    Matt Szczur is now coming alive in the Wildcat formation as Villanova is moving again as the fourth quarter ends with the Wildcats leading 37-24.
  9. dcoulson's Avatar
    Game, set and match on third and 10 as Chris Whitney uses a brilliant play fake to find Matt Szczur for a 51-yard TD strike. It is now 44-24 with 13:12 remaining in the fourth period.

    Whitney has 222 yards and four TDs and Szczur looks like he is back to 2009 form. It was a 10-play, 98-yard drive that chewed up four and a half minutes.
    Updated 12-04-2010 at 05:23 PM by dcoulson
  10. dcoulson's Avatar
    Two plays that put this game in a nutshell. A 10-yard holding call on SFA wipes out a nice kickoff return and then Jeremy Moses fired his third interception of the game as Villanova freshman defensive end Rakim Cox picks him off by dropping into coverage.

    The Sports Network might want to rethink those Payton Award invitations. Moses only had four interceptions before today, but you've got to wonder about the defenses he has been facing to put up all of those numbers this year. Obviously, he wouldn't have done that against CAA defenses.
    Updated 12-04-2010 at 05:29 PM by dcoulson
  11. dcoulson's Avatar
    On fourth and one from the 11, Villanova brings in Mike Hamilton and his field goal from 27 yards makes it 47-24 with 8:41 left.

    Matt Szczur has 196 combined yards on 20 touches.
  12. dcoulson's Avatar
    And it keeps getting worse for SFA. Cordell Robertson caught a pass, but was drilled by LB Anthony Johnson and Marquis Kirkland recovered. Is that six turnovers today for the Lumberjacks? Reminds me of that game in Montana last year.
  13. dcoulson's Avatar
    Villanova fumbled the ball in the end zone and one of the Wildcats falls on it for a touchdown to make it 54-24 with 1:49 remaining. VU was down at one time 21-7 in this game.
  14. dcoulson's Avatar
    And it is a final from SFA, 54-24 Nova. The Wildcats meet No. 1 seed Appalachian State in Boone, N.C. for the quarterfinals. What a matchup.