ALBANY — Needing a win, the University at Albany football team suffered its second tough loss in as many Saturdays and its third rough defeat in as many years against Richmond.
The postgame huddle after the latest loss in those stretches was a brief one.
“When are we going to get tired of these close losses?” UAlbany head coach Greg Gattuso told his team after its 27-24 CAA loss at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium.
Already, though, UAlbany has likely suffered too many close losses this season for itself to have a realistic shot at making the FCS playoffs. UAlbany fell to 2-4 overall with its latest defeat, and now faces a three-game stretch in which it will face teams with a combined 13-5 overall record. Those three opponents — Towson, Maine and Delaware — are a combined 8-1 in CAA play, while UAlbany is 0-3.
Generally, 7-4 is the worst overall record a team can manage and hope to make the FCS postseason field.
“Just got to keep fighting,” UAlbany redshirt junior running back Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks said.
The Great Danes did that against Richmond, but committed too many penalties and suffered some bad luck as one got away. UAlbany tied the game at 24 with 4:02 to go on a 29-yard field goal from redshirt senior kicker Ethan Stark, but Richmond answered with a drive of its own that ended in a game-winning 25-yard field goal from redshirt senior kicker Griffin Trau with six seconds to go.
“We need to score touchdowns when we have the chance in the red zone,” Gattuso said. “It’s the same thing we did last week.”
UAlbany lost 25-22 last weekend at William & Mary in a game UAlbany led 22-10 late in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, in UAlbany’s series against Richmond, the Great Danes had lost in overtime to the Spiders in each of the last two years.
Down 17-14 at halftime Saturday, UAlbany went ahead midway through the third quarter on a touchdown run from Ibitokun-Hanks.
Bad luck, though, for the Great Danes sent Richmond back ahead.
Minutes after Ibitokun-Hanks’ score, Richmond redshirt sophomore quarterback Joe Mancuso fumbled at the goal line, but redshirt senior tight end Stephen Jacob recovered the loose ball for a touchdown with 1:40 left in the third quarter.
After he didn’t manage a reception in last weekend’s loss against William & Mary, UAlbany freshman wide receiver Dev Holmes kept the Great Danes competitive in Saturday’s first half. Richmond led UAlbany 17-14 after a half in which Holmes tossed a 54-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Juwan Green and then caught a 13-yard touchdown reception from redshirt senior quarterback Vincent Testaverde.
Holmes’ touchdown pass was set up with a backwards pass from Testaverde, which Holmes caught before taking a couple steps and then heaving the pass to Green.
Richmond’s defense, though, contained Holmes outside of his two big plays. The star freshman had five receptions for nine yards after he ended the game taking a six-yard loss on a trick play.
A bright spot for the Great Danes: Ibitokun-Hanks, who missed nearly all of last season after tearing his left ACL in 2016’s finale, continued to show he is one of the top FCS rushers in the country. After gaining 250 yards on 57 carries in UAlbany’s first four games this season, Ibitokun-Hanks has gained 298 yards on 40 carries in his last two games.
Against Richmond, Ibitokun-Hanks had 77 yards on 15 carries. Testaverde was 21 of 35 passing for 196 yards.
Junior defensive back Dante Mount had an interception and a fumble recovery for UAlbany.
Both teams were whistled often for penalties. Richmond was penalized 132 yards across 10 penalties, while UAlbany had 122 penalty yards on 10 penalties.
“We’re fighting some extra people out here,” Gattuso said.
Before UAlbany took on Richmond (1-3, 3-4) in front of an announced crowd of 4,059, a moment of silence was observed in memory of the victims of last weekend’s fatal crash in Schoharie.
Richmond 7 10 7 3 — 27
Albany 7 7 7 3 — 24
R — Collins 1 run (Trau kick)
A — Green 54 pass from Holmes (Stark kick)
A — Holmes 13 pass from Testaverde (Stark kick)
R — Mancuso 28 run (Trau kick)
R — Trau 32 FG
A — Ibitokun-Hanks 13 run (Stark kick)
R — Jacob fumble recovery (Trau kick)
A — Stark 29 FG
R — Trau 25 FG