Villanova Comes Back to Top Football, 28-24

Box Score

Penn Coach/Player Quotes

PHILADELPHIA - When the University of Pennsylvania and Villanova agreed to play under the lights at Franklin Field -- on TV, no less -- this was probably the type of game they had in mind.

Of course, that is small consolation for Quaker fans, after Villanova scored a late touchdown and then held off a near-miracle comeback by Penn to complete a comeback, 28-24 win Saturday night.

Penn falls to 1-1 with the non-conference loss, while the Wildcats improved to 2-1.

The Villanova win offset a pair of superb individual performances on the Penn side of the ball. Pat McDermott had another standout game, throwing for 334 yards while completing 25-of-37 passes. Running back Joe Sandberg, meanwhile, carried the ball 18 times for 104 yards, his first 100-yard game in a Quaker uniform. In addition, McDermott and Sandberg connected seven times for 99 yards.

It looked like McDermott might lead the Quakers to the win in the game's final minute. Needing to go 87 yards and with just 2:23 on the clock, he engineered a drive that nearly put Penn in the end zone. Along the way he completed a five-yard pass to Matt Carre for five yards on fourth-and-2; took a facemask penalty and completed a play after ripping his own helmet off before throwing a pass on another fourth down; and firing a Hail Mary attempt that Dan McDonald caught in spectacular fashion with less than five seconds left on the clock.

Needing to get into the end zone on the game's final play, McDermott rolled slightly to the right, but before he could throw the ball he was sacked from the blind side by Bryan Adams to end the game.

"The whole last drive was very bizarre, from the facemask penalty to the Hail Mary to the final play," said McDermott. "When we made it down to the 4-yard line, we thought we were going to win the game. On the final play, I could see my receiver starting to get open, but their defender made a play and I did not have time to get rid of the ball. Give them credit for making the big play at the right time."

It was an exciting ending to a game that was full of emotion on both sides.

Penn seemed to put Villanova on its heels in the first half, putting up the game's first 17 points. The Quakers first got on the board when Derek Zoch hit a 22-yard field goal with 2:20 remaining in teh first quarter, completing a 15-play, 72-yard drive that took more than six minutes off the clock. In the second quarter, Penn added to its lead with another sustained drive that ended with Kyle Ambrogi rushing for two yards, and then -- after Vic Davanzo picked off a Frank Jankowski pass -- McDermott and Carre hooked up for a 53-yard touchdown connection.

The Wildcats were able to get on the board on the ensuing drive, marching 73 yards in seven plays covering just 2:33 on the clock. Jankowski was on target throughout the drive, completing all three of his passes including the touchdown to Matthew Sherry. The teams went into the locker room with Penn up, 17-7.

In the third quarter, Penn took the opening kickoff and immediately hit paydirt again, this time covering 76 yards in seven plays. Sandberg had just two carries on the drive, but the second was 34 yards and went for six points. The Quakers were beneficiaries of a Villanova illegal substitution penalty on fourth down during the drive. 'Nova got the points right back, driving 67 yards on six plays, setting the stage for the fourth quarter.

After the teams traded punts, Villanova drew within three points when Jankowski capped a nine-play, 65-yard drive by hitting J.J. Outlaw for 13 yards and a TD with 8:16 left on the clock.

Penn was forced to punt on its next drive, and the Wildcats took nearly three minutes to again score and take the lead for the first time all night. Jankowksi completed five more passes on the drive, including a 26-yarder to John Dieser that provided what would prove to be the winning points.

Jankowski finished with 345 passing yards, while Outlaw caught eight passes for 103 yards and Dieser had five receptions for 102 yards.

Written by Mike Mahoney, director of athletic communications