Defense comes up big in UAlbany football spring game

ALBANY, N.Y. — With blue skies and sunshine overhead, the University at Albany football team played its annual spring game Saturday afternoon on Bob Ford Field at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium. With a scoring system that gave points to both sides of the ball, the Great Danes’ defense came away with the victory, 56-32.

Wearing grey, the defense forced three fumbles and intercepted four passes in the friendly competition. Redshirt senior cornerback Rayshan Clark served as a playmaker by forcing a goal line fumble in the second quarter, as well as logging a 64-yard pick for a touchdown in the second half.

In addition, redshirt sophomore DaSharnte Thompson led the defense with seven tackles, a fumble return for 29 yards and an interception for 11. Sophomore Josh Wynn added six tackles and an interception, and redshirt freshman Joe Crowley had a pick with a 20-yard return along with four tackles.

“What you’re seeing out of our defense, hopefully going forward, is that we’re taller, more athletic, and there’s a lot of depth coming up,” said Head Coach Greg Gattuso. “I like where we’re at on defense right now. You’ve got to win with defense and we’re getting much better.”

Offensively, UAlbany totaled 131 rushing yards, piloted by sophomore Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks’ 45 yards on eight carries. Redshirt senior Power Lawrence and sophomore Jamal Williams each totaled 35 yards on the ground on 7 and 13 rushed, respectively.

Splitting time in the pocket, sophomore Neven Sussman completed 7-of-16 pass attempts with three interceptions, totaling 72 passing yards. Redshirt junior DJ Crook also completed seven passes for a total of 55 yards, going 7-for-13 with one interception and an 18-yard touchdown toss to redshirt freshman Austin Ellis.

Ellis finished with two receptions, totaling 23 yards. Eight different Danes caught passes in the game led by redshirt freshman Joe Germinerio’s three receptions for 20 yards, while redshirt junior wide receive Brad Harris caught two passes for 30 yards, including a game-long 25 yard snag.

In the kicking game, redshirt sophomore Ethan Stark made all three of his field goal attempts with a long of 43-yards.

“I think we did some good things today. We made some silly mistakes on offense, but that’s part of the growing process,” said Gattuso. “Overall the thing I look for as a head football coach is that we had great enthusiasm. They were into it, and I was happy with our energy and our competitive level.”


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