By Michael Bennett
Zach Bednarczyk tossed two touchdowns and ran for another as visiting Villanova opened with a 38-35 victory over Lehigh in Mark Ferrante’s head-coaching debut.
After 30 years as a Wildcats assistant, Ferrante took over from Andy Talley, who retired after winning 230 games in a 32-year career.
Bednarczyk connected on a 75-yard pass play to Taurus Phillips early in the third quarter for a 35-21 lead with a 32-yard field goal by Drew Kresge early in the fourth providing the winning margin. Lehigh got within three with 4:43 to go on Brad Mayes’ 3-yard pass to Gatlin Casey but the Wildcats kept possession from there.
Bednarczyk finished 17 of 23 for 209 yards passing with senior Matt Gudzak rushing for a career-high 142 yards and two touchdowns for the defending Patriot League champions.
Mayes was 33 of 49 for 406 yards with four touchdowns, two to Casey. Troy Pelletier made 11 catches, moving to No. 2 on the all-time school receptions list, for 141 yards with a TD. Luke Christiano had 143 yards receiving, a career high for the junior, and a score.
The Mountain Hawks had 484 yards offense and the Wildcats 475.