Special Teams Score Before Halftime Provides the Margin of Victory
October 16, 2021 –
The weather windy and rainy, the conditions sloppy, but could have been worse. It was the type of day where #6 Villanova would have to find a way to win. The Wildcats did to bring home a 17 – 10 win over the Albany Great Dames in New York. A special teams play turned out to be the difference. The Cats blocked a punt which TD Ayo-Durojaiye returned 15-yards for the deciding touchdown 30 seconds before halftime.
Facing a 4th and 7 from their 43 yard line Albany decided to punt. The wet ball was hard to handle for punter Sean Ralis. Slipping, he tried to get the kick away, but Brendan Bell blocked the punt that Ayo-Durojaiye got at the 15 and went in for a touchdown and a 17 – 7 lead. The score was preceded by a Wildcats drive resulting in a 26-yard field goal by Cole Bunce. In that last 1:16 of the second quarter the Wildcats scored10 points that gave them enough room to get the victory.
The defense would be tested as Albany drove into Villanova territory four times in the second half. The Great Danes got only 3 points off those drives, a 24-yarder by Dylan Burns. It was the last score of the game. He missed on attempts of 51 and 36 yards earlier. Their final drive in the 4th quarter for the Great Danes reached the Villanova 6 yard line. Going for it on a 4th down quarterback Jeff Undercuffler’s pass was broken up by Wildcats safety Elijah Glover. Nova ran out the remaining 2:15 to secure the victory.
Linebacker Amin Black led the defense with his collegiate-best 11 tackles, 4 solo. He intercepted a pass. Fellow linebacker Forrest Rhyne made 8 tackles, 3 solo. Glover had a pick.
The Great Danes 259 yards of offense, 78 rushing and 181 passing. Undercuffler completed 17 of 36 for 181 yards, but two were intercepted. Mofor led the ground game gaining 81 yards.
Albany got the first score of the game at the 11:14 mark of the first quarter. Karl Mofor scored on a 3-yard run. Villanova answered later in the opening stanza when quarterback Daniel Smith threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to tight end Todd Summers.
Running back Justin Covington ran for 61 yards and went over the 2,000 career-rushing yards milestone. Jalen Jackson led the team with 71 yards and DeeWill Barlee gained 70 yards. The Wildcats ran for 204 yards. The weather affected the passing game and Smith threw for a season-low 9 of 22 for 102 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Rayjoun Pringle caught 2 passes for a team-leading 37 yards. Nova did not score in the second half.
A winless Albany team (0 – 6, 0 – 4) tested Villanova. But the Cats (5 – 1, 3 – 0) survive and prepare for a home game next week against the Rhode Island Rams (5 – 1, 3 – 1) who lost at Towson. The Wildcats sit atop the CAA standings.
Written By: Glenn Papazian