In a game that brought back memories of last season, Villanova Wildcats fell 19-10 to the Albany Great Danes in overtime on Saturday night. It was a night to forget for Villanova, who lost stars Rob Rolle and Ryan Bell to injury in the first half and perhaps Matt Gudzak on the final play of the game.
Villanova moved down the field methodically on their opening drive. As the ‘Cats moved into the red zone, Ryan Bell was stripped fighting for extra yardage and the Danes recovered to stall the drive.
Albany took advantage and moved down the field with a series of simple-yet-effective passes. An 18-play drive (!) ended when the Villanova defense forced a 23-yard field goal from Ethan Stark on the first play of the second quarter.
Things didn’t get any better on the ensuing kickoff. Rob Rolle took a nasty shot to the left knee and had to be helped off the field. Villanova promptly went 3-and-out and gave the Danes good field position in the process.
The Wildcats and Danes traded 3-and-outs a few times as the defenses kept the opposing offenses out of sync on both sides.
Albany was able to drive it deep into ‘Nova territory late in the first half, but Ed Shockley came up with a huge hit on 3rd down in the red zone to force a fumble. Freshman DE Malik Fisher recovered to give it back to Villanova.
Villanova went to work with a tempo-offense that allowed Zach Bednarczyk to work it down the field with precision. However, with 7 seconds left in the half the ‘Cats decided to take one last shot at the end zone.
That backfired as Bednarczyk was ruled to have fumbled - he looked to have thrown it on replay - and Albany recovered to maintain their 3-0 lead at the half.
The Villanova defense continued to step up in the second half and stall Albany, but late in the third quarter the ‘Cats shot themselves in the foot with a roughing the punter penalty.
Albany took advantage and got inside the 5-yard line, but couldn’t punch it in. Villanova was spared its blushes when Stark hooked his 21-yard chip shot left to keep the score at 3-0.
As the 4th quarter began, Villanova’s offense came to life. The ‘Cats drove it down inside the 5-yard line, but couldn’t convert on a 3rd and short and Drew Kresge knocked in a 24-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3.
Albany took the ensuing kickoff and once again marched down the field, but had to settle for a 26-yard field goal. The kick was good, but Villanova was called for a personal foul on the play which gave the Danes 1st and Goal at the 4-yard line.
Karl Mofor punched it in on the next play to take a 10-3 lead with 2:23 to play in the game.
With all three timeouts, Villanova had one last chance to get the game to overtime. Bednarczyk took a sack on 3rd down, and Villanova faced a 4th and 12. Bednarczyk was able to convert to Taurus Phillips to keep the game alive.
Another 3rd down saw a slant pass completed to Jarrett McClenton that he took inside the 15-yard line. With just 8 seconds and no timeouts, Albany was called for pass interference in the end zone that set Villanova up at the 2-yard line with 3 seconds left.
Bednarczyk took the shotgun snap and rolled left, then completed a shovel pass to Aaron Forbes up the middle for a touchdown as time expired. Drew Kresge’s PAT was good and with the score 10-10 the game went to overtime.
Villanova won the toss and opted to play defense first. Albany had to start from the 40-yard line because of a penalty on the PAT, but they were able to march it inside the Villanova 5-yard line with a good passing attack.
Villanova’s defense stoop up though, and forced a 21-yard field goal attempt which Albany converted.
Villanova’s final possession came down to a 4th and 1 from teh 16-yard line, and confusion ensued in the backfield. Matt Gudzak went down injured, and Zach Bednarczyk ended up fumbling on the play. Albany ran it all the way back for a TD to win 19-10.