No. 22/23 Football Stays Perfect With 20-9 Triumph Over St. Francis
ALBANY, N.Y. – Scoring 20 second-half points, the No. 22/23 University at Albany football team came from behind to steal a 20-9 victory over Saint Francis University (Pa.) Saturday night at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium. With the victory the Great Danes improved to 4-0 on the season, while St. Francis fell to 1-3.
· Sophomore running back Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks totaled 90 rushing yards on 22 carries and 17 receiving yards on a pair of receptions.
· Sophomore quarterback Neven Sussman completed 7-of-15 passes with an interception and a touchdown.
· Sophomore running back Dione Alston and redshirt sophomore wide receiver Jordan Crockett each recorded their first career touchdowns in the victory. Alston totaled 87 rushing yards on four carries, including a 54-yard touchdown run. Crockett’s lone reception of the game was a 13-yard TD catch.
· Defensively, senior Michael Nicastro led the team with a career-high 16 tackles (three solo) and a fumble recovery. Sophomore Josh Wynn logged 10 tackles (seven solo), as well as forced and recovered a fumble. Redshirt senior Rayshan Clark also brought down 10 (two solo), while Abner Logan added nine tackles (two solo).
· As a team, the defense did not allow a touchdown, holding St. Francis to a trio of second quarter field goals. The Great Danes forced four turnovers in the victory – two fumbles and two interceptions.
· With St. Francis threatening in the waning minutes, redshirt sophomore Kareem Brown had two key defensive plays, first intercepting SFU quarterback Zack Drayer’s pass at the SFU-17 with 5:38 remaining. The Great Danes would then convert the turnover into a field goal. On Saint Francis’ next possession, Brown stripped the ball in the end zone, which was recovered by Wynn for 16 yards with 2:47 remaining.
· Saint Francis used three second-quarter field goals to take a 9-0 lead at the half. SFU’s Lance Geesey put the Red Flash on the board with a 21-yard kick with 14:13 remaining in the quarter.
· Geesey’s 50-yarder sailed through the uprights with 4:30 remaining, and with three seconds left, Geesey gave SFU a 9-0 advantage on a 33-yard field goal.
· However, that would be all for the Red Flash, as UAlbany scored 20 unanswered points, starting with Ethan Stark’s 24-yard field goal with 8:17 left in the third quarter.
· In the fourth, Sussman connected a 13-yard pass to Crockett in the back of the end zone, capping a seven-play, 80-yard drive with 14:12 remaining. With Stark’s extra point, the Great Danes led 10-9.
· Juking through the line, Alston broke free for a 54-yard touchdown scamper with 11:39 on the clock for a 17-9 advantage.
· Stark capped the contest with a 37-yard field goal with 3:56 remaining.
Coach Gattuso on the offense: “I think we’re making progress -- it really is truly all we can do as young as we are. We’re making progress. [Sussman] made some good throws and I think again he managed the game pretty well and that’s what we ask him to do. Other than that one throw -- we won the turnover battle again tonight, so that was good.”
Coach Gattuso on Crockett and Alston’s touchdowns: It’s great. The more we can diversify the offense, the better. It’s good to get others’ hands on the ball because they are really focused on [Ibitokun-Hanks].
Coach Gattuso on Saint Francis: “To not give up a touchdown is huge. As I said, Saint Francis has come a long way in the last few years. Their coach has them playing hard. They have some really good football players.”
Neven Sussman on the offense: We have a stable of playmakers and its good to get the ball in other guys’ hands and get them feeling the offense. It makes us a lot more dynamic on offense and helps us threaten the defense a little more.”
- Improved UAlbany’s record to 4-0 overall.
- Improved UAlbany’s series record to 15-0 against SFU.
- Improved UAlbany’s all-time varsity record to 270-183.
- Improved Coach Gattuso’s career record to 111-45.
- Improved Coach Gattuso’s record at UAlbany to 14-13.
- Tied UAlbany’s fourth-best start in program history.
- Marked the third time UAlbany has started the season 4-0 in the Division I era (2001, 2014, 2016) and the sixth time in program history.
After a bye week, UAlbany returns to action Oct. 8, hosting Richmond for Homecoming. Click here to buy tickets.