Frustrated UAlbany football falls to 0-6 after rain-soaked loss to Villanova

UAlbany quarterback Jeff Undercuffler runs up the middle between Villanova's Jared Nelson, left, and Jalen Howard during Saturday's CAA football game at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium in Albany.

UAlbany quarterback Jeff Undercuffler runs up the middle between Villanova's Jared Nelson, left, and Jalen Howard during Saturday's CAA football game at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium in Albany.

ALBANY — Greg Gattuso has seen this movie before, seemingly every weekend, and for the UAlbany head football coach and his team, the ending hasn’t improved.

The script remained the same Saturday afternoon against Villanova at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium as it had in each of the Great Danes’ prior CAA games: UAlbany put itself in a position to win, but crucial errors handed its opponent easy points, and the Great Danes’ offense was unable to cash in on its opportunities.

This time around, it was an interception deep in the Great Danes’ territory and a calamitous blocked punt returned for a touchdown which directly resulted in Villanova’s only two trips to the end zone, while UAlbany missed two field goals and came up short on a late series after having first-and-goal as the fifth-ranked Wildcats held on for a 17-10 win in a game played alternately in heavy winds and driving rain.

“We keep finding out the same lesson,” Gattuso said. “You can’t give good teams touchdowns. It haunts us again tonight, and I feel bad, because I think these guys played their butts off. Efforts matter, but we’ve got to be smarter in how we play.”

“They make big plays when we screw up,” UAlbany linebacker Danny Damico said. “That’s what happens in football. It’s a game of error.”

Redshirt sophomore Jeff Undercuffler returned at quarterback for UAlbany (0-4 CAA, 0-6 overall) after sitting out last week’s game at William & Mary despite being in his uniform and pads on the sideline during the game.

When Undercuffler was asked why he didn’t play last week, a nearby UAlbany spokesman cut off the question by saying, “No comment.”

Meanwhile, backup Joey Carino, who earned CAA Rookie of the Week honors for his 244-yard, two-touchdown effort against William & Mary, didn’t see the field on offense. Gattuso said that Carino, who missed a series against William & Mary with a knee injury, was too “banged up” to contribute, with his only action coming as the holder on field goals and extra points.

“There was no situation where we wanted to put him in,” said Gattuso, who said earlier in the week he’d planned to use Carino depending on the flow of the offense. “He was banged up.”

Undercuffler finished 17 of 36 passing for 181 yards and a pair of interceptions, while Karl Mofor ran for 81 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries.

UAlbany’s defense, which was without starting defensive tackle Mazon Walker for the entire game due to injury and lost star defensive end Jared Verse for the game to an injury in the first half, forced three turnovers and held Villanova quarterback Daniel Smith to 102 yards on 9 of 22 passing. Villanova’s lone offensive touchdown came on an 18-yard pass from Smith to Todd Summers, set up when Wildcats (3-0, 5-1) linebacker Amin Black intercepted Undercuffler at the UAlbany 29.

Villanova’s only other touchdown came on a disastrous play for UAlbany late in the first half. Sean Ralls came on to punt, but fumbled the snap, and as he tried to recover a swarm of Villanova players came in to block the kick. TD Ayo-Durojaiye scooped up the loose ball at the 15 and paraded in for the easy touchdown to put Villanova up 17-7 at the half.

“We were sending guys,” Villanova head coach Mark Ferrante said, “so we had enough guys around the football when the ball came out.”

The UAlbany offense — which started sharply with a touchdown drive and nearly had another score in the second quarter when wide receiver Jackson Parker couldn’t corral a surefire 56-yard touchdown pass — came up empty on three second-half possessions with chances to score.

Early in the third quarter, a promising drive was derailed by a third-down sack that forced the Great Danes into a 51-yard field goal attempt that Dylan Burns missed short and right. 

In the fourth quarter, after Burns’ 24-yard field goal had pulled UAlbany back within a touchdown, Burns was called on for a 36-yard attempt that again was off the mark.

On UAlbany’s final offensive series, Undercuffler drove the Great Danes to the Villanova 10, but just as when they were stonewalled a week earlier against William & Mary in a similar situation, UAlbany couldn’t find a way to score, with a fourth-down pass to tight end Thomas Greaney getting broken up in the end zone amid a swarm of Villanova defenders.

“At the end of the day, it wasn’t the greatest throw,” Undercuffler said. “I think if a perfect throw happened, I would’ve put it in the best possible situation for Thomas to come down with it. That’s my fault. I take full blame for that.”

“We played our tails off,” Gattuso said. “We just couldn’t get in the end zone again.”

Two Villanova first downs later, and the Great Danes were sent to 0-6 for the first time in program history, with nine straight losses overall dating back to their spring season. They’ll attempt to finally flip the script next Saturday when the team that handed them the first of those nine straight defeats, Maine, visits Casey Stadium.

“We’ve got to come back,” Damico said, “and show everybody that we’re not done.”

Villanova 7 10 0 0 — 17

UAlbany 7 0 3 0 — 10

UA — Mofor 2 run (Burns kick)

V — Summers 18 pass from Smith (Bunce kick)

V — Bunce 26 field goal

V — Ayo-Durojaiye 15 blocked punt return (Bunce kick)

UA — Burns 24 field goal


A blocked extra-point attempt late in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference as RPI suffered its first loss of a season with a comeback that came up short in Geneva.

Down 10-3 in the fourth quarter, RPI (2-1 Liberty League, 6-1 overall) produced an 11-play, 48-yard touchdown drive that was capped off by George Marinopoulos’ 4-yard pass to Vinnie McDonald with 3:39 to play, but an errant snap gave the Hobart special teams a chance to break through and block the extra point kick from RPI backup kicker Diego Fernandez.

The game was a sloppy, defensive-minded affair that saw RPI manage just 145 yards of total offense and commit four turnovers. Hobart (1-1, 5-1) running back Rayshawn Boswell picked up 149 rushing yards on 18 carries, including a 49-yard touchdown.

RPI 0 3 0 6 — 9

Hobart 7 3 0 0 — 10

H — Boswell 49 run (DiGregorio kick)

RPI — MacDougall 22 field goal

H — DiGregorio 21 field goal

RPI — McDonald 4 pass from Marinopoulos (kick blocked)

Categories: College Sports, Sports

Leave a Reply