UAlbany Falls To Pitt 33-7

by Ryan McCarthy, BBM Staff Writer

The 2018 season for the UAlbany Great Danes started off on a sour note, suffering a 33-7 loss to Pitt at Heinz Field on Saturday afternoon. UAlbany fell behind early as Pitt KR Maurice Ffrench returned the opening kickoff 91 yards to begin the game. The Great Danes would give up two more scores (one by Pitt QB Kenny Pickett on a run and another by Ffrench) before they got on the board with 1:45 to go in the first half when QB Vincent Testaverde threw his first collegiate touchdown to freshman WR Dev Holmes.

The Panthers would answer with two more scores of their own, both on touchdown passes from Pickett to WR Rafael Araujo-Lopes. The teams would go into the locker room with Pitt leading, 33-7. No scoring would occur for either team in the second half and the final score would remain the same.

Offensively, Testaverde finished 18-for-29 for 263 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. RB Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks made his return to the roster with 57 yards on 14 carries. Defensively, the Great Danes pitched a shutout in the second half; LB Levi Metheny lead all starters with 13 total tackles and seven solo tackles. Neven Sussman, who made his first start at linebacker, had an interception in the second half after catching a deflection by DL Antoine White.

Here are three takeaways from this game.

Takeaway #1: Dev Holmes made a tremendous impact for the Great Danes’ offense. The freshman WR lead all receivers with nine receptions for 148 yards and a touchdown. Holmes gave Pitt’s secondary fits all game long and has the potential to become the breakout star on the team in 2018. Granted, the Great Danes have played only one game, but Holmes could be relied on for some big plays throughout the year.

Takeaway #2: The pass protection needs to be better. Testaverde had a solid game and was able to move the ball down the field, but he was also sacked four times for a loss of 31 yards. Understandably, Pitt had all four starters from last season returning and was in great form throughout the game when they collected four sacks in the second half. But going forward, the success of the passing game will hinge on their pass protection.

Takeaway #3: After a shaky start, the defense tightened up. The Great Danes defense gave up 26 points to a relatively young Pitt offense in the first half, but turned what could have been a blowout into a respectable effort. The defense had some bright spots, namely their linebackers. As previously mentioned, Levi Metheny lead all defensive starters in what was his first defensive start. Eli Mencer picked up where he left off with an assist on a tackle for a loss.

All in all, UAlbany can learn a lot from this loss and Great Dane fans hope that the team can carry the lessons learned into success for the rest of the schedule.

Next Game: at Rhode Island, Saturday 9/8, 1pm.

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