Villanova Wildcats

Villanova star safety Rob Rolle ready to prove Temple wrong after being passed over

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Villanova star safety Rob Rolle ready to prove Temple wrong after being passed over

Rob Rolle was feeling good at the one-day prospect camp held at Temple University between his junior and senior years of high school.

The Delsea High (N.J.) standout looked sharp and was encouraged that he did enough to convince the Temple coaches that he deserved a scholarship. 

But then …. 

“I remember they were pretty close to offering me and at the end of the camp they told me they were gonna take another look at me throughout my senior year,” Rolle said. “I put that as a chip on my shoulder that they didn’t have faith in me like other schools did.”

Rolle ended up accepting an offer from nearby Villanova and, for the first time in his college career, will get a chance to face Temple as the Wildcats and Owls collide Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field (3:30 p.m, ESPN3).

“Going into this game,” the senior safety said, “I’m gonna prove I very much deserve to be on the field with those boys.

“When I didn’t get the offer, it was like, ‘Alright, they passed on me, so I gotta go prove them wrong.’”

Rolle, a preseason All-American and one of the Wildcats’ captains, has more reasons to feel extra motivation heading into Saturday’s showdown.

Growing up in South Jersey, he played against a few Temple players, including senior wide receiver Adonis Jennings, senior defensive back Sean Chandler and redshirt sophomore defensive back Kareem Ali. 

But he says he hasn’t been doing much trash talk with those guys leading up to the contest. Instead, he’s been in the ear of his current teammates, imploring them not to be intimidated playing up a level against an FBS program.

“I’m fully going into this game expecting to win, as I’m sure they are,” said Rolle, who led the FCS with seven interceptions last season. “The key is getting guys on my team as prepared as possible and making sure they have the same mindset.”

While Temple will be a significant favorite, Rolle’s confidence is not unwarranted. Villanova — an FCS power that opened its 2017 campaign under first-year head coach Mark Ferrante with a 38-35 win over Lehigh last week — has kept it close vs. FBS schools in the past, losing by a combined six points in losses to UConn and Syracuse in Rolle’s first two seasons.

And although Villanova was blown out by Temple in their last two meetings in 2011 and 2012, the Wildcats actually won the game in 2009, 27-24, and lost by one score in 2010, 31-24.

“Temple is a great program and we know they’re coming off back-to-back 10-win seasons, so we’re not knocking them,” Rolle said. “But we’re a pretty solid team in FCS play and we play in the toughest league in 1-AA. We see teams from our league play big FBS teams and give them a run for their money. We know the talent our league has, and we know we can take care of business. 

“We’ll be fighting against a greater depth chart but if we bring our ‘A’ game, if we play physical and show up, we’ll be right in the ballgame.”

While playing against some old South Jersey guys may give it the feel “of a high school game,” the venue certainly will not, as Rolle is fired up to play inside the Linc for the first time. 

He’s been to games there before, though, cheering on former Villanova teammate and fellow South Jersey native Austin Medley during past Temple-Villanova Mayor’s Cup contests.

Now, the star playmaker who had two defensive touchdowns last year is trying to picture stepping on the field and making a big defensive play inside the pro football stadium, against the team that almost wanted him, for the team that helped develop him into a star.

“That’s something we really like,” Rolle said of playing at the Linc. “I prefer that to playing at home any day. I don’t care if it’s on the road or not. I just like playing in front of that many people.”

“We’re really pumped,” he added. “We try to take each week as it is but I’d be lying to you if I said we weren’t a little more hyped to play a hometown rival.”

Albany upsets Villanova with fumble return in OT

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Albany upsets Villanova with fumble return in OT

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Eli Mencer scooped up a fumble and, with no one in front of him, sprinted 80 yards for a score, lifting Albany to a 19-10 overtime upset of Villanova Saturday night.

After Albany took a 13-10 lead in overtime on Ethan Stark's third field goal of the night, Zach Bednarczyk moved Villanova to a fourth-and-one at the 16. But he was stripped of the ball. Mencer bent down, scooped it up and ran for the TD amid a phalanx of teammates.

The win is the first time Albany (3-1, 1-0 Colonial Athletic Association) has beaten Villanova (2-2, 0-1) ranked No. 8 in the FCS coaches poll. The Wildcats drove 87 yards and knotted the score at 10-10 when Aaron Forbes took a shovel pass and scored with no time left in regulation.

Villanova held Albany to 95 yards rushing, the sixth-straight game of holding an opponent to less than 100. Three Wildcats fumbles were turned into three field goals by the Great Danes.

No. 7 Villanova at Albany: Taking on strong defense in conference opener

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CSN

No. 7 Villanova at Albany: Taking on strong defense in conference opener

No. 7 Villanova (2-1, 0-0 CAA) at Albany (2-1, 0-0 CAA)
Tom & Mary Casey Stadium, Albany, New York
Saturday, 7 p.m.

It’s time for conference play as Villanova kicks off its CAA slate this weekend. Here’s a look at the matchup:

Scouting Villanova
The Wildcats asserted their FCS dominance last week with a 59-0 thrashing of overmatched Lafayette. That came two weeks after a win over another Patriot League team in Lehigh, which preceded an impressive showing in a loss to FBS Temple. All of which is to say that the Wildcats head into conference play as good as advertised as one of the juggernauts in the CAA, led by quarterback Zach Bednarczyk (who completed 13 of 15 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns last week), a balanced rushing attack (also last week: seven different ball carriers combined to run for 262 yards and three TDs), and a defense that slowed down Temple and had two TDs vs. Lafayette (and was among the nation’s best last season).

Scouting Albany
After losing to Old Dominion in their opener, the Great Danes have won two straight, shutting out Morgan State, 26-0, and doubling up Monmouth, 28-14. In last week’s win over Monmouth, redshirt sophomore quarterback Will Brunson threw for one touchdown and ran for another while the Albany defense, led by redshirt senior linebacker Nate Hatalsky (15 tackles), held one of FCS’s top rushing teams to just 63 yards on the ground. Picked to finish sixth in the CAA in the preseason, Albany also features an all-league running back in junior Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks, who scored a TD in his season debut last week after sitting out the first two games with an injury.

History
Villanova leads the all-time series, 3-0, having defeated the Great Danes in each of the past three seasons.

Storyline to watch
Albany’s defense is off to a solid start, ranking second in the CAA in both total defense and passing defense. Bednarczyk and company had a field day with Lehigh and Lafayette but it will be interesting to see how they manage the game, and balance the run vs. pass, against a more proficient defensive unit.

What’s at stake?
Winning on the road is never easy but if it wants to win the CAA, Villanova is going to have to stay unblemished until facing league powerhouse and defending national champion James Madison in mid-October.

Prediction
The Wildcats will immediately show why they’re one of the CAA’s best teams.

Villanova 28, Albany 17