UAlbany loses Homecoming Game to Richmond in Triple Overtime
The Great Danes lost a 36-30 thriller to the #6 Richmond Spiders in the third overtime at a homecoming game that went down to the wire in front of the largest crowd, of 9208 people, ever on record at Tom and Mary Casey Stadium on Saturday.
Coming into the game the Danes were ranked 16th in the nation, highest in school history, and played that way taking a perennial powerhouse down to the very last snap with a couple missed opportunities to come away with a win.
“Overall it is a bit disappointing that we couldn’t come up with a win, but I think the kids played their butts off,” said UAlbany head coach Greg Gattuso. “Richmond is a good football team and we had our opportunities.”
The game ended on a 4th and 2 play in the 3rd OT where Albany was down by six and failed to move the chains. On that play quarterback Neven Sussman was pressured by a Richmond blitz and couldn’t connect with a wide open Jordan Crocket streaking toward the end zone, which would have been a tying score. Sussman was hit just as he released the ball and sailed it just over the outstretched hands of wide receiver Crockett.
“I’ve just got to deliver a good ball,” said a disappointed Sussman after the game. Sussman threw a career high 207 yards on 11/33 passing, one touchdown and two interceptions, as well as a rushing touchdown. He was forced to make plays and adjust to the Spider game plan.
Last year when these two teams met, Albany running back Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks had over 200 yards rushing on 25 carries averaging over eight yards for every touch. This year Richmond loaded the box with extra players virtually taking Ibitokun-Hanks out of the game bottling him up to just 2.1 yards per carry, and 34 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries.
With 2:44 remaining in the game the Danes found themselves down 20-13 with the ball on their own 41 and put together a defining drive. The Danes converted a fourth and one at around midfield giving them momentum to connect on a home run the next play. Sussman hit a streaking Jordan Crocket for a 51-yard touchdown. Crocket caught the ball, broke a tackle, outran the Spider secondary, spun out of another tackle around the 5 yard line and dove into the end zone.
“I had to do the my best to keep my balance I just was looking at the end zone hoping I could get there,” said Crocket.
On the ensuing drive the Great Dane defense forced a three and out only taking 16 seconds off the clock and giving them the ball with 56 seconds left on the clock with a chance to win in regulation. Albany managed to get the ball down to Richmond’s 30 with time for a 50-yard field goal attempt by Ethan Stark. The kick just missed wide just right and the Danes lost an opportunity to win the game.
The Great Dane defense kept them in the game. They held the Spiders to only 20 points in regulation, a team this is averaging 30. Late in the game Reyshan Clark and Michael Nicastro had timely interceptions on back to back drives as the Spiders were marching down Albany territory. But in both cases the Great Dane offense failed to capitalize and come away with any points.
The Danes are now 0-4 in their career games playing the Spiders, but Richmond is taking notice.
“We always thought that this was going to be a very physical football game,” said Richmond head coach Danny Rocco. “I’ve got a lot of respect for coach Gattuso and what he’s doing here with the program and what he’s done in his career.”
UAlbany was picked to finish 11/12 in the CAA by a pre-season coach’s poll. This year they beat their first FBS team in school history, started the season 4-0 and barely lost to the number six team in the nation. Gattuso has brought a winning culture to Albany and has his team buying into his system.
“They’re resilient kids, they work hard and they really believe what the coaches are talking about,” said Gattuso regarding his team.
Albany has exceeded expectations taking the number six team in the nation down to the last snap the players are still unsatisfied. “We played tough, but I don’t know we played our best game,” said an upset Nicastro after the game.
On Saturday the Great Danes proved that they belonged to be here. The way their playing they could make a playoff push this season and get in the national conversation. This week they have to continue that play as they travel to Maine and play a Black Bear team that’s coming of a 28-21 win over Delaware. Albany is now 4-1 on the season and is looking to improve this Saturday.