The Raiders finished with their fourth all-time 10 win season in 2018 and expectations are high for the 2019 season. With its first loss of the season, however, Colgate must now regroup quickly to reach those expectations.
“We played like an inexperienced team, and we can’t afford to do that. But the good thing is that a lot of kids got a lot of experience today, which is ultimately the first goal for a team like this. Get them on the field and get them playing, and hopefully we improve next week,” head coach Dan Hunt said.
While the Raiders make up a large part of the All-Patriot League Preseason Team, the team is still having to overcome massive losses on both sides of the ball. The Raiders lost 25 seniors, 10 conference players, both the reigning Patriot League Offensive (tailback James Holland) and Defensive (linebacker T.J. Holl) Players of the Year. The Raiders defense that was dominant last year failed to make a difference in the season opener, with Villanova running wild on their way to 239 rushing yards, averaging 6 yards per rush. The Wildcat defense, meanwhile, proved impressive, forcing turnovers and taking advantage of them.
In the second quarter, a forced fumble led to the Wildcat’s first touchdown and a pick-6 in the Raiders ensuing possession led to a quick 14-0 Wildcat lead. Villanova tossed two more touchdowns before the end of the half, heading to the locker room with a 27-0 lead. Junior quarterback Grant Breneman attempted to mount a comeback in the second half, tossing a 10 yard touchdown to junior wide receiver Nick Draught in the third quarter and running one yard for another score in the fourth quarter, bringing the score to 27-14. The touchdowns proved not to be enough, as the Wildcats iced the game with a 4:40 minute drive, capped off by a 9 yard rushing touchdown.
“It was my fault; we left the defense out there for too long in the first half. When we finally got our feet under us and we were trying to make a charge, they were gassed. We can’t expect them to hold up that long when we’re leaving out there in the first half,” Breneman said.
The Raiders entered the season with excitement surrounding the program after being ranked 14 by Football Championship Subdivision coaches and No. 13 in the STATS FCS Preseason Poll. The Raiders are the reigning Patriot League champions and the favorites to win once again.
The Raiders boast the Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, Breneman, the Patriot League Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, senior defensive tackle Nick Wheeler as well as 10 players on the All-Patriot League Preseason Team: Breneman, senior tailback Alex Mathews, senior tight end Nick Diaco, senior offensive lineman Jovaun Woolford, junior offensive lineman Jack Badovinac, Wheeler, senior linebacker Nick Ioanilli, senior defensive back Abu Daramy-Swaray and senior kicker Chris Puzzi is the All-Patriot League Preseason kicker, while Daramy-Swaray also earned a spot as a return specialist. This summer, Breneman was one of 45 quarterbacks from across the country chosen to assist with the Manning Passing Academy.
“It was an unbelievable experience. I can’t really put it into words but everything from the group of college quarterbacks who were there, interacting with the Mannings and the other big-name guys who were on site. There aren’t many places where you get that caliber of quarterbacks and talent in one space,” Breneman said.
Colgate will attempt to get back on track against Air Force, August 29.