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Football falls to Old Dominion in opener, 31-17

UAlbany Sports Information   09-02-2017

NORFOLK, Va. – Karl Mofor churned out 99 rushing yards and scored a touchdown in his collegiate debut, but the University at Albany football team couldn’t complete a second-half comeback and fell to Old Dominion, 31-17, on Saturday.

Mofor, a freshman, scored on a 31-yard touchdown run that pulled the Great Danes within seven points in the fourth quarter.

But facing a Conference USA program that went 10-3 last season and won the Bahamas Bowl, the Great Danes (0-1) couldn’t take down a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent for a second consecutive season. UAlbany never led in the game and trailed 21-3 at halftime.

"I thought we played hard the whole game," head coach Greg Gattuso said. "There’s some things we could have done differently on both offense and defense. You know there’s things that when you play a game like this you have to take advantage of everything, and we didn’t in the first half. The game instead of being maybe 21 or 17-10 or something like that it’s 21-3 (at halftime). I thought we played a really good second half. I thought we moved the ball really well."

Junior quarterback Neven Sussman also scored for UAlbany and Ethan Stark booted a 37-yard field goal at a rain-soaked Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium.

Sussman’s 3-yard run finished off what was UAlbany’s most impressive drive – a 13-play, 75-yard march that ate up 7 minutes, 57 seconds of the third quarter and shaved the Monarchs’ lead to 24-10.

Then, with 9:53 to play, redshirt junior cornerback Kareem Brown intercepted a pass along the Great Danes’ sideline, sending some nervous murmurs through the sold-out crowd.

The turnover, one of three forced by UAlbany’s defense, set up the touchdown run from Mofor, who weaved through the Old Dominion (1-0) defense to move the Danes within 24-17.

But Old Dominion’s Blake LaRussa heaved a 55-yard touchdown pass on the ensuing drive, halting the comeback bid.

Mofor was seeing carries in place of junior Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks, a Preseason All-American who sat out with an injury. The Greenbelt, Md., native toted the ball 21 times and also hauled in two catches for 29 yards.

Junior safety Josh Wynn also played a standout game for the Great Danes, picking up his first collegiate interception in the first half and finishing with eight tackles. Senior linebacker Nate Hatalsky led the Danes with 12 tackles.

Old Dominion opened the scoring with 10:17 left in the first quarter. Ray Lawry shook loose on the sideline and eluded a couple tackles during a 41-yard touchdown run.

The Great Danes cut the lead to 7-3 on Stark's field goal but otherwise struggled to mount much offense in a first half played through a consistent downpour.

The Monarchs added to their lead with 1-yard touchdown runs from Brandon Simmons and Gemonta Jackson, the second of which came with just 42 seconds to play in the first half.

The Great Danes next play at 1 Saturday afternoon at Morgan State.

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