By Trevor Dugan | November 1, 2022
Photo Credit: UAlbany Athletics
On Oct. 22, the University at Albany suffered another nail-biting defeat, this time to Villanova after battling back from a 21-0 deficit.
Villanova jumped out to a quick three score lead in the first half, thanks to several quick drives ending in touchdowns. On their second play from scrimmage, running back TD Ayo-Durojaiye took it 70 yards to the house to strike first for the Wildcats. He finished the day with 136 rushing yards, and averaged 6.8 yards per carry against the UAlbany defense.
UAlbany’s defense struggled to stop Villanova on third down, as the Wildcats converted five of their seven third down chances in the first half. UAlbany on the other hand went 0-4 on third downs.
The Great Danes salvaged the first half when quarterback Reese Poffenbarger connected with wide receiver Brevin Easton for a 26-yard TD with six seconds remaining, making it 21-7 heading into halftime.
The offense came alive for the Great Danes in the second half. On their first possession after halftime they took it 71 yards on 10 plays, and finished it off with a 1-yard TD rush by Poffenbarger.
With two minutes left in the third quarter, the UAlbany defense forced a safety when they sacked Villanova QB Connor Watkins in the end zone, making it 21-16. However, with 4:44 left in the game, the Wildcats answered; an 80-yard TD pass by Watkins followed a missed field goal attempt by Albany kicker John Opalko, pushing their lead to 28-16.
After Poffenbarger threw his first interception of the year less than a minute later, the Great Danes got the ball back and tight end Thomas Greaney scored a four-yard TD with 1:54 remaining. Now down by five, UAlbany successfully recovered an onside kick. With no timeouts, Poffenbarger got the Great Danes into the red zone and found Greaney once again to take the lead with 53 seconds remaining. After their two point conversion attempt failed, it was 29-28.
Villanova was not finished however, they received the kickoff and promptly made the UAlbany defense look like swiss cheese. After a few quick passes, the Wildcats set up a 28-yard game winning field goal, which their kicker Matthew Mercurio hit with ease. Game over.
Just one week after losing to Hampton in harrowing fashion, the Great Danes endured heartbreak yet again.
This past weekend, however, when rival Stony Brook came to town, the Great Danes looked like a brand new team. Both schools entered the matchup with 1-6 records, but by the end of the day, it was overwhelmingly clear who the better squad was.
In the first quarter alone, UAlbany scored 21 points, their most in any opening quarter this season. Poffenbarger threw three TD passes in the first half, including a 25-yard TD strike to Julian Hicks on the first possession. Hicks would finish the day with three TD catches, a season high for any of UAlbany's receivers.
On the ensuing Stony Brook possession, DL Anthony Lang picked off Seawolves QB Charlie McKee and took it 51 yards for the TD. It was the first of McKee’s four interceptions on the day before he was benched in the second half.
The UAlbany defense played what was undoubtedly their best game of the year against the Seawolves, forcing four turnovers and registering two sacks while holding Stony Brook to just 124 yards passing. Lang, Semaj Brown, Isaac Duffy, and AJ Mistler each had an interception.
UAlbany was firing on all cylinders, ending the first half up 38-0. They continued their onslaught after halftime, often starting possessions on their own side of the field thanks to Stony Brook’s turnovers. By the end of the third quarter, the starters were no longer in the game, and UAlbany was up 59-0.
The final score was 59-14 Albany after a few garbage time TDs by Stony Brook. It was a much needed blowout victory for the Great Danes after the heartbreak they’ve endured over the last two weeks.
UAlbany improves to 2-6 while Stony Brook falls to 1-7. The Great Danes will travel to North Carolina this week to face off against conference foe Elon.