Villanova Wildcats Vanquish Albany Great Danes 24-13
The 16th ranked Villanova Wildcats utilized a relentless, hard-hitting defense, which recorded 9 sacks and 12 tackles for loss, and a vigorous running game, featuring Sophomore running back Aaron Forbes, to subdue the 23rd ranked Albany Great Danes 24-13 on Saturday afternoon, October 22nd at Villanova Stadium on Homecoming weekend. For Andy Talley, in his 32nd and final year as the Villanova Wildcats’ Head Coach, the win over Albany was the culmination of a weekend that included having the new West end-zone building named for him. The ‘Andrew J.Talley Athletic Center’ will serve as the new headquarters for the football program.
Villanova controlled the game by commanding the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. On defense, the Wildcats overwhelmed the Great Danes recording 9 sacks, the most by any FCS team this season. In addition, the defense added 12 tackles for loss, a fumble recovery by Ed Shockley, its leading tackler, and an interception by Trey Johnson (his second career pick). After three quarters, Villanova was ahead 24-0, and had out-gained Albany 298 total yards to 49 total yards. Offensively, Villanova used its running game to exercise control over the Great Danes from the start of the game to the finish. Forbes, in particular, was impressive, gaining 151 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns. Matt Gudzak added 43 yards on 5 rushes and a touchdown. Zach Bednarczyk, who left last week’s game with Richmond, with a suspected concussion, showed just how vital he is to the success of the Wildcats by guiding Villanova to the win, without the benefit of a full-week of practice as he went through the concussion protocol.
Villanova opened the scoring on a 2-yard run by Forbes to culminate an 8 play, 52 yard drive at the 7:56 mark of the first quarter. Gerard Smith, who had a perfect day placekicking, tacked on the extra point to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead. Early in the second quarter, the Wildcats completed their longest scoring drive of the season (93 yards on 12 plays) as Gudzak ran two yards for the score. The Wildcats went to the locker room at half-time leading Albany 14-0.
The Wildcats roared out to a 21-0 lead in the second half when Forbes ran for his second touchdown from 3-yards out to end a 6 play, 78 yard march. Later in the third quarter, Smith made the score 24-0 when he kicked a 32-yard field goal.
In the fourth quarter, the Great Danes finally got in on the scoreboard via a 65-yard run by Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks. The try for a two point conversion was unsuccessful when QB Neven Sussman was sacked by linebacker Jeff Steeb. Albany scored again late in the game when linebacker Michael Nicastro scooped up a Villanova fumble and rumbled 40-yards for the score.
Leading the way for the victorious Villanova Wildcats was Forbes who was the game’s top rusher with a net of 151 yards and 2 touchdowns. Bednarczyk completed 9-16 passes for 82 yards. Ryan Bell, Zac Kerxton, and Taurus Phillips each snagged 2 passes from Bednarczyk. Bednarczyk also added 31 net yards rushing. On defense, Shockley led the superb effort by the Wildcats. He totaled 10 tackles, including a fumble recovery, 3.5 sacks, and 4 tackles for loss. Steeb had 9 total tackles. Tanoh Kpassagnon contributed 1.5 sacks and 2 tackles for loss.
For the visitors, Ibitokun-Hanks ended up with 141 yards rushing on 21 carries and a touchdown. Nicastro was the Great Danes leading tackler with 10.
With the win over its conference rival, Villanova improved its record to 6-2 overall, 4-1 CAA. The Wildcats are on bye next weekend, before returning to action on November 5 when they will travel to Orono, Maine to play the Maine Black Bears in a noon-time game. Villanova returns home on November 12th when it will play James Madison at 1 p.m. in Coach Talley’s final regular season home game. Albany, which suffered its third consecutive loss to drop to 4-3 overall, 1-3 CAA, will entertain Elon in a noon-time CAA game.