CHENEY, Wash. — The defense rests.

The defending Football Championship Series champion Villanova Wildcats are headed home following a 41-31 loss to Eastern Washington in a semifinal playoff game last night.

Eastern Washington will play the winner of today's Georgia Southern-Delaware game on Jan. 7 in Frisco, Texas, in the title game.

Through its first two playoff games, Villanova (9-5) prospered in the takeaway/giveaway department. Heading west for the semifinal, the team was plus-6 in the turnover department.

But on the red turf of Roos Field, the fumble was the Wildcats' downfall. They coughed up the football three times in the first half and trailed, 20-14, at intermission. A third-quarter fumble was returned 15 yards for an Eastern Washington touchdown after Villanova cut the lead to 27-24.

Four lost fumbles and an interception at the EWU 2 put the Wildcats at minus-4 in turnovers in the semifinal game alone.