December 5 Philadelphia Inquirer:
NACOGDOCHES, Texas – The itinerary said “Texas,” but after nine hours of planes, airport waiting rooms, buses, and hotel lobbies, the Villanova football team had to wonder if it was actually going to Timbuktu.
But the Wildcats showed no ill effects of the long trip once they arrived in the East Texas town of Nacogdoches for their playoff game against Stephen F. Austin, as Villanova rolled to 54-24 win. With the victory, the Wildcats (8-4) advance to the quarterfinals of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs at Appalachian State on Friday.
“It wasn’t just a straight road trip, it was taking a plane, waiting around, busing,” said Villanova all-purpose offensive threat Matt Szczur.
Despite the long journey, Villanova rallied from a two-touchdown deficit to eliminate the Lumberjacks (9-3), and a big reason was that Szczur had returned to the lineup.
In his second game back after missing six with a left high-ankle sprain, Szczur ran nine times for 68 yards and caught 11 passes for 128 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown reception early in the fourth quarter.
“Having him on the field makes us a different team,” said Villanova quarterback Chris Whitney, who threw for a career-high five touchdown passes. “Even if he’s not getting the ball he’s drawing a lot of people to him.”
Villanova, which got its first-ever playoff road win in seven tries, quickly fell behind by 21-7 in the first quarter. As the Lumberjacks were rolling to three early TDs, quarterback Jeremy Moses completed 14 of 17 passes for 140 yards and running back Keith Lawson scored on three 1-yard runs.
Early in the second quarter, the Wildcats started digging themselves out of the hole by recovering a Lumberjack fumble on a punt return, setting up Villanova at the SFA 29-yard line.
“That was the big turning point,” Talley said. “I was comfortable being seven or 14 behind, but you get down 21 and that takes us out of what we wanted to do, which was mix up the pass and the run.”
Villanova took advantage of the turnover when, on fourth and 7 from the 11, Whitney hit split end Norman White for a touchdown narrowing the SFA lead to 21-14. It was one of three TD catches for White, a career-high.
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