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Seven interceptions key Villanova win over Penn

By David Coulson FCS Editor

Villanova, PA (Sports Network) - Penn kept serving up turnovers and Villanova ate nearly all of them up on the way to a 34-14 Wildcats victory in the annual battle of Philadelphia.

Villanova (3-1) turned five of a school-record-tying seven interceptions into scores to overcome a 14-10 halftime deficit and win for the seventh straight time in the rivalry.

Sophomore quarterback Antwan Young, starting just his fourth collegiate game, completed 16-of-32 passes for 241 yards and four touchdowns.

Three of those scoring strikes were to wide receiver Phil Atkinson, who hauled in five passes for 112 yards and scores of 33, 10 and 47 yards.

But it was the Wildcat defense that put the offense in position to turn this game around with six interceptions and a fumble recovery in the final 30 minutes.

Starting Quaker quarterback Robert Irvin was 15-of-27 for 155 yards, but threw five interceptions. Reserve Bryan Walker was 8-of-15 for 93 yards with two more interceptions.

Each Penn passer tossed one touchdown pass, but both missed opportunities for more big plays. The Quakers have 12 turnovers in two games and fell to 0-2 for the first time since 1997.

"You can't beat anybody, never mind a good team on the road, when you have that volume of turnovers," Penn coach Al Bagnoli said. "As sure as I'm sitting here, we had people open."

The seven interceptions matched Villanova performances from Oct. 20, 1946 against Georgetown and Nov. 16, 1940 against Manhattan.

Strong safety John Dempsey led the defensive effort with two interceptions, adding one sack and a pass breakup. Dempsey also tied David Delassandro with six tackles to top the Wildcats.

Safeties Eugene Clay and Zach Mariacher, linebackers Anthony Johnson and Darrel Young and cornerback Salim Koroma added the other six interceptions, while Angelo Babbaro recovered the fumble.

Penn took a 14-7 lead with 4:45 left in the first period on a seven-yard pass from Bryan Walker to Braden Lepisto, but the Wildcats made big plays the rest of the night to hold the Quakers scoreless.

It looked like the game might turn into a shootout when Kyle Derham hauled in a 17-yard TD pass from Robert Irvin for Penn on its first drive and Atkinson answered with a 33-yard TD strike from Young to tie it.

Villanova added a 21-yard Joe Marcoux field goal with one minute left in the first half to cut the Quaker lead to 14-10.

But the Wildcat defense gave Villanova a short field to work with in the second half, which Young and company took advantage of for 24 points.

"After the turnovers, we wanted to come out and have positive plays," said Young. "We wanted to score and put the game away."

Atkinson's 10-yard TD catch gave Villanova its first lead with 9:58 left in the third period and Marcoux split the uprights for a field goal to push that edge to 20-14.

Young's 10-yard TD aerial to Matthew Sherry and 47-yard scoring strike to Atkinson finished off the game in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter.

But heading into next week's Colonial Athletic Association opener at James Madison, Talley knows his team still needs to improve.

"We made a lot of mistakes, we have a long way to go," said Talley. "But we made a lot of big plays tonight."

09/22 23:02:30 ET