VILLANOVA, Pa. — UAlbany pulled off a wild comeback attempt Saturday against Villanova, erasing a 12-point deficit in just 61 seconds as the offense walked off the field with a lead.
Unfortunately for the Great Danes, there were still 53 seconds left to play, and in a football season filled with heartbreaking losses, that was just enough time for Villanova to hand UAlbany another one.
A short kickoff gave Villanova good starting field position for its final drive, and a 23-yard pass from Connor Watkins coupled with a pair of costly penalties on UAlbany put the Wildcats in position for Matthew Mercurio to hit a 28-yard field goal as time expired to give Villanova a 31-29 victory.
It was the third straight week in which UAlbany (0-4 CAA, 1-6 overall) had its fate decided on the final play of the game, and the program’s 12th consecutive loss in a game decided by one possession.
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Penalties and surrendering big plays were the biggest problems for UAlbany against Villanova. The Great Danes were flagged 12 times for 120 yards, compared to five for 46 yards by the Wildcats. Villanova also had two huge scoring plays, a 70-yard run by TD Ayo-Durojaiye in the first quarter and an 80-yard pass from Watkins to Rayjoun Pringle in the fourth on the first play after UAlbany’s John Opalko missed a field goal that would’ve pulled the Great Danes within 21-19.
The Pringle touchdown made it 28-16 with 4:44 to play, and when Reese Poffenbarger was intercepted on UAlbany’s ensuing possession — the freshman’s first interception of the year, on his 227th pass attempt — it seemed to put an end to things.
However, UAlbany forced a punt and Poffenbarger engineered a quick scoring drive, hitting Thomas Greaney for a 4-yard score that made it 28-23 with 1:54 left. Linebacker Dylan Kelly then recovered Jack Barnum’s onside kick, giving the Great Danes one more chance, and Poffenbager led them back down the field, hitting Greaney for the 5-yard go-ahead score with 53 seconds left.
UAlbany was stopped on the 2-point attempt to try and make it a 3-point game, leaving the door open for Villanova’s winning field goal.
Poffenbarger put up huge numbers in defeat, completing 34 of 43 passes for 377 yards and three touchdowns while adding a team-high 44 rushing yards and a score as UAlbany rallied to get back in the game after falling down 21-0 in the second quarter.
The Great Danes are back home next week to face rival Stony Brook for the Golden Apple Trophy.
UAlbany 0 7 9 13 — 29
Villanova 7 14 0 10 — 31
V — Ayo-Durojaiye 70 run (Mercurio kick)
V — Hayek 18 pass from Watkins (Mercurio kick)
V — Pringle 20 pass from Watkins (Mercurio kick)
UA — Easton 26 pass from Poffenbarger (Opalko kick)
UA — Poffenbarger 1 run (Opalko kick)
UA — Safety
V — Pringle 80 pass from Watkins (Mercurio kick)
UA — Greaney 4 pass from Poffenbarger (Opalko kick)
UA — Greaney 5 pass from Poffenbarger (pass failed)
V — Mercurio 28 field goal
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