UAlbany Finds Balance on Offense to Topple St. Francis (Pa.) 35-28

by Ryan McCarthy, BBM Staff Writer

After last week’s game against Morgan State, it was clear that the UAlbany Great Danes needed to find stability on offense. This week, they got it.

Vincent Testaverde throws a pass to running back Karl Mofor (photo credit: Mike Pelletier)
RBs Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks and Karl Mofor each ran for 92 yards and QB Vincent Testaverde threw for 331 yards and three touchdowns and the Great Danes accounted for over 500 yards in total offense as UAlbany defeated St. Francis (Pa.), 35-28. The win evened the Great Danes’ record to 2-2 heading into their bye week.

WR Dev Holmes continued his stellar play with 128 yards receiving and two touchdowns. For the Red Flash, QB Bear Fennimore threw for 286 yards and three touchdowns. WR Cyrus Holder lead all receivers with 132 yards and a touchdown.

After each team came up empty on their first possessions, the two teams would trade touchdowns in their following two possessions. Ibitokun-Hanks ran for a touchdown and Testaverde threw the first of his three touchdowns early in the second quarter. K Ethan Stark continued his accurate kicking, connecting on two field goals on the Great Danes’ last two possessions in the first half.
Donovan McDonald throws a stiff-arm at a Red Flash defender (photo credit: Mike Pelletier)
The Red Flash took the lead on the second half’s opening drive on a long touchdown pass from Fennimore to Holder. Testaverde threw an interception on UAlbany’s opening offensive possession, but the defense forced a three-and-out. Following the stop on defense, it took only two plays for the Great Danes to get the lead back as Testaverde’s pass to WR Jerah Reeves went for 65 yards for a touchdown. The Red Flash responded with a long 13-play drive that produced a short touchdown pass from Fennimore to TE Terrell Johnson to tie the score at 28.

The start of the fourth quarter looked ominous for UAlbany as St. Francis LB Ben Bruni intercepted a deflected Testaverde pass, but the Red Flash could not capitalize as they would miss a long field goal. The miss gave the Great Danes hope as the offense would go on a long drive of their own capped by the second connection from Testaverde to Holmes, this time form 24 yards. The defense would hold once again, stopping the Red Flash on their final two offensive possessions.

What can we take away from this game?

Takeaway #1: The Great Danes steadied their offense with a solid ground game. After tough sledding in the first three games, UAlbany’s run game would finally be unleashed. Collectively, the Great Danes had 172 yards on the ground, highlighted by Ibitokun-Hanks’ 31-yard touchdown run for the game’s first touchdown. The healthy balance on offense took a burden of the responsibility off of Testaverde and Holmes. The resurgence of the running game also makes the Great Danes more explosive on offense.

Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks breaks away from defenders and heads to the end zone (photo credit: Mike Pelletier)
Takeaway #2: Testaverde’s composure was impressive. Even with two interceptions (one off of an unfortunate deflection), Testaverde looked less anxious in the pocket this week and his numbers show it. Last week, he had only 15 completions on 43 passing attempts; this week, he was much more accurate with 21 completions on 28 attempts for 331 yards and three touchdowns. The awakening of the ground game sets up additional success for the first-year starter.

UAlbany quarterback, Vincent Testaverde (photo credit: Mike Pelletier)
Takeaway #3: Danny Damico is quietly becoming a standout on defense. At the beginning of this season, Damico was listed on the depth chart as a backup behind fellow LB Nevin Sussman. But the freshman was inserted into the lineup last week against Morgan State and made a big impact with 16 total tackles. This week, Damico continued to impress with 11 total tackles and partial credit for a tackle for a loss. Along with Holmes on offense, Damico is another freshman having a remarkable first season.

Next Game: at William and Mary (1-2 overall, 0-1 CAA), 10/6, 3:30pm.

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