VILLANOVA, PA 10/22/2016 – The #23 Albany Great Danes lost their third straight game and the #16 Villanova Wildcats prevailed 24 – 13 getting back to their winning ways at windy Villanova Stadium on Homecoming Day.
“All in all, we came up with the running game we needed,” said Villanova Coach Andy Talley. “Our defense was superb. They kept us in the game and just did a fabulous job. At no time in the game was I worried that they were going to put up a lot of points on us.”
Villanova ran for 269 yards in the game on 57 rushes. It was the most yards gained and most carries by an Albany opponent this season eclipsing the 226 yards on 51 attempts by Buffalo in the season opener. It was an important factor as the wind limited the number and the effectiveness of passes. Of the 72 plays for Villanova only 15 were passing attempts. Sophomore running back Aaron Forbes ran for a career-high 151 yards, another season-high against Albany. The Nova running game appeared to be the determining factor.
“It was a tough game to throw, so we needed to have a good running game,” said Talley. “We do have one. It was exactly what the doctor ordered.”
The Albany defense has excelled this season creating turnovers, but could only generate two. One was a fumble recovery for the Danes when senior linebacker Michael Nicastro picked up a loose ball and returned it 40-yards for a touchdown, his second of the season that accounted for the final score.
“We gave them a touchdown at the end with the fumble that they ran in,” Talley said.
On the other side of the ball the Wildcats effectively limited the offense of the Great Danes. Villanova had 9 sacks, the most by any FCS team this season. Junior linebacker Ed Shockley was credited with three and a half sacks. Albany had a total of 163 yard on offense, 10 first downs, and made only 4 of 14 third down conversion tries.
“We definitely executed the game plan. Everybody did their job, said Shockley. ” If we do that every time, that’s going to be the result. We definitely have a lot of great players that take the attention off of other people, You can’t key in on one guy. If you key in on one person, it allows other people to make plays. I feel like we just have playmakers all across the board on our defense.
Sophomore running back Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks scored on a 65-yard run in the fourth quarter for the Great Danes. It was the longest run of his career. He ran for 141 yards on 21 carries.
Albany went 9 – 18 through the air for 53 yards. Sophomore quarterback Neven Sussman went 6 for 15 for 51yards and was intercepted once. Redshirt freshman Will Brunson saw his first action and completed all three of his passing attempts.
Villanova started the scoring with 7:56 left in the first quarter when Forbes capped an 8-play, 52-yard drive over 3:34 with a 2 yard run. All of the eight plays were on the ground. In the second quarter Villanova junior running back Matt Gudzak scored on a 2-yard plunge. The scoring drive was a 12-play, 93-yard drive. That was the longest scoring drive of the season for the Wildcats, who took the 14 – 0 lead into halftime.
The lead grew to 21 – 0 when Forbes got his second touchdown of the game just under four minutes into the quarter.
Villanova closed out their scoring with a field goal from Gerard Smith.
The Wildcats take a trip to Orono to meet Maine next week.
Written By: Glenn Papazian