Holmes Saves the Day in a Wild Home Opener

by Ryan McCarthy, BBM Staff Writer

UAlbany’s football home opener was a roller coaster, but the Great Danes made sure that the crowd left the ride happy.

UAlbany RB Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks runs for a gain against Morgan State. (Photo Credit: Ryan McCarthy)

Dev Holmes’ go-ahead 88-yard touchdown reception with 6:54 remaining helped the Great Danes get their first win of the season over Morgan State, 30-27.

The game between two teams desperately seeking their first win featured a wide variety of scoring. In addition to Holmes' long touchdown for UAlbany, WR Donovan McDonald returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and K Ethan Stark kicked his career-best 51-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

The game also featured eight total turnovers between the two teams, five by UAlbany. Morgan State's secondary came as advertised as they forced UAlbany QB Vincent Testaverde to throw four interceptions. Three were collected by CB Donte Small, including a pick six to put the Bears up 27-23 with 7:55 remaining in the game.

Testaverde finished for 310 yards passing and two touchdowns. Holmes caught eight passes for 238 yards, which is the second-highest single-game total in program history. On defense, freshman LB Danny Damico finished with 16 total tackles in his first start, leading all defensive starters. For Morgan State, QB DeAndre Harris finished 193 yards passing and two touchdowns in addition to 99 yards rushing. On defense, LB Rico Kennedy finished with six total tackles, two QB hurries, and 1.5 tackles for a loss.

What can the three takeaways from this game?

Takeaway #1: Dev Holmes established himself as Vincent Testaverde’s  primary receiver. Holmes had a bad game against Rhode Island with only four receptions for 73 yards and a game-changing fumble in the second quarter. It's safe to say that he had a much better game this week with eight receptions on 16 targets. That includes four catches for for over 20 yards (28, 39. 60, and 88). Holmes also showcased his game-changing speed for the long game-winning touchdown.

Takeaway #2: UAlbany’s defense bent, but did not break. Although it surrendered 422 yards to Morgan State, the defense collected 10 tackles for loss, five pass breakups, and five sacks. The Great Danes forced four fumbles and recovered three, the most significant being LB Eli Mencer’s to clinch the game. DL Anthony Lang had two sacks and also recovered his own forced fumble. The defense also made plays at the right time by forcing turnovers on Morgan State’s final two possessions.

Takeaway #3: The Great Danes can build from this win. William Shakespeare wrote in Henry VI, “Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.” UAlbany has faced their share of adversity this season, but have given their all in their three games. Head coach Greg Gattuso noted after the game that he was proud that his team refused to give up until the final whistle.

The Great Danes have a chance to even their record next Saturday night at 7pm when they face former Northeast Conference foe St. Francis (Pa).

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