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Villanova’s Zach Bednarczyk is back throwing the ball and his receivers are catching it

The Wildcats receivers showed they could make big plays in the upset win against Temple.

Zach Bednarczyk had a big showing for the Wildcats in their season-opening upset win over Temple.
Zach Bednarczyk had a big showing for the Wildcats in their season-opening upset win over Temple.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

The numbers might not lie, but Villanova coach Mark Ferrante would say they don't always necessarily reflect the complete story.

There is no hiding that in the squadron of wide receivers for the 2018 team, only senior Jarrett McClenton had more than 10 catches last season (12), and none had caught a touchdown pass in 2017.

Still, Ferrante says there are some qualifiers.

"How should I word this?" Ferrante said. "The inability to move the ball effectively on offense once we lost Zach Bednarczyk, our quarterback, is probably why some of the returning receivers did not have more catches from a year ago."

That makes a lot of sense, especially since Bednarczyk had completed 70 percent of his passes for 1,068 yards and six touchdowns in five games before being injured and missing the rest of the season.

Bednarczyk started 2018 by passing for 254 yards and three touchdowns in the Wildcats' 19-17 upset of Temple.

To emphasize Ferrante's point: Bednarczyk last week completed passes to nine players, including five wide receivers. Wildcats wideouts had 17 receptions for 171 yards and two touchdowns.

"We knew we could be really good this year," said McClenton, whose five receptions included the game-winning 30-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. "Our attitude was just to come in every day, work hard every day, get better every day."

The receiving corps lost top pass catcher Taurus Phillips (29 catches for 426 yards with six touchdowns) but Ferrante believed the return of Bednarczyk would elevate the production of those coming back.

McClenton had 30 receptions for 334 yards and a touchdown when Bednarczyk started 13 games in 2016.

Sophomore Changa Hodge caught four passes for 100 yards against Temple in 2017 before being injured and missing the final nine games. He had six catches for 40 yards last Saturday.

Junior Brandon Chadbourn, who caught a touchdown pass last Saturday, had 13 catches for 160 yards in 2016 before slipping to just three catches last season.

Sophomore Jevon Jones had one reception after being converted from defensive back last season but had two catches for 23 yards against Temple.

"It felt really good as a whole unit to get off to a start like that against Temple," McClenton said. "We have to be able to have a balanced attack because that's the best way to move the ball.

"This can be a big-play receiving corps. We know we can make plays and now we just have to go out and keep doing it."

Villanova at Lehigh

  1. Records: Villanova: 1-0; Lehigh: 1-0

  2. Coaches: Mark Ferrante (2nd season at Villanova): 6-6; Andy Coen (12th season at Lehigh): 83-56

  3. Radio: 610 ESPN

  4. History vs. team: Villanova won 38-35 last season, leads all-time series 9-5

3 things to watch

  1. Fresh off its season-opening upset at FBS Temple, will Villanova avoid a letdown when returning to the FCS level? "As a coach, you always worry about a letdown. That's what coaches do," Ferrante said.

  2. Villanova quarterback Zach Bednarczyk was the Colonial Athletic Association offensive player of the week after passing for 254 yards and three touchdowns against Temple. Lehigh surrendered 242 passing yards in a win over St. Francis (Pa.).

  3. Wildcats senior running back Aaron Forbes has four career 100-yard rushing games, and two have been in his last two games – the 2017 season finale against Delaware and the 2018 season opener against Temple. Lehigh limited St. Francis to 58 rushing yards. Villanova's offensive line was dominant against Temple.