The guy playing quarterback for Villanova on Saturday afternoon wore a black ski mask under his helmet.

And as he scrambled into the end zone to briefly give the Wildcats a late lead, you had to look up the sideline to confirm it actually was backup Chris Polony out there and not John Robertson in disguise.

Robertson stood off to the side in street clothes, with a headset on. Villanova's star quarterback, and the favorite for the Walter Payton Award, was scratched before the game with a concussion.

Polony did his best Robertson impression, but the Wildcats' comeback fell just short. Their season ended with a 34-31 loss to Sam Houston State in an FCS quarterfinal at Villanova Stadium.

Robertson was injured in last week's win over Liberty. Polony took the first-team reps all week. Robertson passed a concussion test Friday but woke up Saturday feeling unable to go.

Sam Houston State coach K.C. Keeler learned of the change just before kickoff.

"I saw Polony, and I said: 'There's no bargain here,' " said Keeler, who previously coached Delaware and Rowan.

Keeler was right. Making his first start since 2012, Polony racked up 228 yards and a touchdown through the air and rushed for 87 yards and two scores. He rolled right for a 1-yard TD to punctuate a nine-play, 67-yard drive and give Villanova its first lead, 31-27, with 7 minutes, 15 seconds remaining.

"The bottom line is he gave us a chance to win," Villanova coach Andy Talley said.

But 3:12 later, Jalen Overstreet punched in for a 1-yard touchdown to take the lead right back for good for Sam Houston State.

"That's when I think a championship team steps up and gets it done defensively," Talley said.

Polony was unable to duplicate the magic on the ensuing drive. After a delay-of-game penalty pushed Villanova back 5 yards, Chris Plough's desperation 51-yard field-goal attempt swung wide left. Talley said Villanova's kicking game was "probably the worst I've seen at this school." The Cats made only 5 of 11 field-goal attempts this season.

The delay of game was the final of 12 penalties that Villanova committed for 88 yards.

"Hard to believe that we could amass that many penalties at this point in the season," Talley said. "Maybe we didn't handle the pressure as well as we should have at the critical points of the game."

Sam Houston State (11-4) will visit North Dakota State in the semifinals, either Friday night or Saturday.

Kevin Monangai had 166 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries in his final game for Villanova (11-3). Neither team led by more than one score.

Said Talley, "Someone always has to have a broken heart at the end of these games."