Villanova defeats Holy Cross in FCS second-round playoff game

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Forrest Rhyne gets in position prior to a play during his senior season with the VIllanova Wildcats football team. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Villanova raced out to a 14-0 halftime lead against Holy Cross and held on for a 21-16 win in the second round of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs, Friday at Villanova.

The subhead of the Villanova football website’s story about the game read, “Three rushing touchdowns and monster defensive effort from Forrest Rhyne were the difference for Villanova, which now heads to quarterfinals for seventh time in its FCS history and first since 2014.”

Rhyne, a graduate student linebacker and finalists for the Buck Buchanan Award, recorded double digits in tackles in both halves and finished the game with 21 total tackles, including three tackles for loss, both Villanova sacks and a quarterback hurry.

Last week, Rhyne, a Waynesboro Area Senior High School graduate, was named Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year and earned his third straight CAA First Team Defense selection.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Wildcats put up two touchdowns in the second quarter. Sophomore running back Justin Covington scored on runs of 2 and 7 yards.

Holy Cross trimmed the deficit to 14-10 midway through the third quarter, but Villanova put some space between the teams when Jalen Jackson took it into the end zone from 14 yards for a 21-10 lead.

The Crusaders scored the game’s final touchdown but the Wildcats defense shut the door down the stretch in the fourth quarter.

Next up for fifth-seed Villanova is South Dakota State, which upset No. 4 Sacramento State, 24-19 on Friday night. The game is scheduled for 2 p.m., Saturday at Villanova.