Villanova riding high entering matchup with William & Mary
Villanova broke a four-game losing streak and picked up its first conference win last week.
Earlier in the season, Villanova coach Mark Ferrante might have shaken his head at the penalty.
But given the circumstances, Ferrante decided he could live with the 15 yards his team was assessed during Saturday's 45-21 win at Richmond, after a large group of players ran onto the field to celebrate Christian Benford's diving interception, his third pick of the day.
The Wildcats (4-5, 1-5 Colonial Athletic Association) hadn't had much to celebrate after losing four games in a row and getting outscored, 71-0, in their previous two contests. If a little celebration is what they needed to spark their first Colonial Athletic Association win and a strong finish to the season, so be it.
"We got called for excessive celebration — that was one of our 12 [penalties] — but I'll take that one," Ferrante said this week. "It was good to see our guys having fun again. It was good to see them running around, flying around, and making plays."
With two games left, Ferrante hopes the win over Richmond might give his team some momentum to finish the season with a winning record. The Wildcats will play at home against William & Mary (3-5, 2-3 CAA) at 1 p.m., Saturday, before finishing the season at Delaware next weekend.
'Nova should have no problem getting up for Saturday's game against the Tribe, as the Wildcats celebrate Senior Day.
"That's always an emotional time when you do that, and hopefully that's the spark that we'll need," Ferrante said. "That's what we want. That's what we had down in Richmond. We had a lot of energy, enthusiasm, and excitement on the sideline."
The team might also get a spark from the return of senior quarterback Zach Bednarczyk, who Ferrante said was a full participant in Tuesday's practice. Bednarczyk missed three of the last four games with a shoulder injury. Last week, freshman Qadir Ismail made his first career start.
Injuries have depleted the Wildcats for most of the season, but Ferrante might have almost his entire team available Saturday for the first time since the Sept. 15 home loss to Towson.
"Right now, it seems like we may actually line up, for the first time since our third game, with the team that we started the season with," Ferrante said. "Right now, our health is probably as good as it's going to be since our opener at Temple."
William & Mary at Villanova
1 p.m. Saturday, Villanova Stadium.
Records: Villanova, 4-5; 1-4 in CAA; William & Mary, 3-5, 2-3.
Coaches: Mark Ferrante, 10-10 in second season at Villanova; Jimmye Laycock, 248-193-2 in 39th season at William & Mary.
TV/radio: 610 ESPN; Live audio: www.villanova.com
History: Villanova leads the all-time series, 17-15-1.
— John Smallwood