VILLANOVA, Pa. – Scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the No. 23/24 University at Albany football team’s comeback fell short as No. 16/17 Villanova came away with a 24-13 victory on Homecoming, Saturday evening at Villanova Stadium. With the loss, the Great Danes fell to 4-3 overall and 1-3 in the CAA, while the Wildcats improved to 6-2 on the season and 4-1 in conference play.
- Sophomore running back Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks ran for over 100 yards in the second half alone, netting 141 yards in the contest, including a 65-yard touchdown run.
- Sophomore quarterback Neven Sussman finished with 51 passing yards, completing 6-of-15 attempts with an interception. Redshirt freshman Will Brunson made his collegiate debut, seeing minutes in the second quarter. Brunson completed 3-of-3 passes for two yards.
- Defensively, senior linebacker Michael Nicastro led the team with a 40-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown, and 10 tackles (two solo), including one for a loss of two yards. Meanwhile, Abner Logan and Josh Wynn each finished with nine tackles and a sack.
- Redshirt senior Jon Martin punted seven times, averaging 39.6 yards per punt and pinned Villanova inside the 20 twice.
- On their second drive of the afternoon, the Wildcats took a 7-0 lead on Aaron Forbes’ two-yard touchdown run with 11:30 remaining in the first quarter. The run capped Villanova’s eight-play, 52-yard drive.
- Villanova then used 12 plays to drive 93 yards down the gridiron, taking a 14-0 advantage with 14:07 left in the second quarter on Matt Gudzak’s two-yard run.
- In the second half, the Wildcats took advantage of 20 yards worth of penalties, driving 78 yards on six plays to take a 21-0 advantage. Forbes finished off the drive with a three-yard scamper up the middle.
- Villanova kicker Gerard Smith’s 32-yard field goal with 1:38 remaining in the third quarter. The kick capped an 11-play 63-yard drive, extending the Wildcats’ lead to 24-0.
- UAlbany broke onto the board with 12:13 left in the fourth quarter on Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks’ career-long 65-yard touchdown scurry. The Great Danes were unable to convert on the two-point attempt, keeping the score 24-6.
- With 2:15 remaining, Michael Nicastro picked up and returned a 40-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown, cutting the deficit to 11 on Ethan Stark’s point-after kick.
Coach Gattuso on UAlbany’s play: “It was simply unacceptable how we played. The first half was a lack of fight. We have to get back to who we were, and we are not who we were. We have to get better.”
Coach Gattuso on Villanova’s running game: “They had a size advantage on us. We are not a very big defense right now, and against these big offensive lines, it’s hard.”
Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks on his touchdown run: “It was definitely good to give our team hope. Even though we were down, we weren’t out. I am just trying to do my best and help my team win.”
Michael Nicastro on his fumble return: “It gave us a little lift at the end. It was just kind of too late in the game. I think we need to wake up a little earlier than we did. In the fourth quarter I think we started to fight a little more, but it was too late at that point.”
UAlbany hosts Elon for the first time in program history on Saturday, Oct. 29. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium, and the game will air on the American Sports Network.