The Wildcats came out for one last performance in front of the home crowd for the regular season. With the final home game of the season, comes Senior Night. Villanova honored a total of 25 seniors before the game in a nice pre-game ceremony under the lights. After the long-standing traditional ceremony was over, it was time to open the stadium doors to a brand new opponent. It was the first ever meeting between Villanova and Albany, but the result would not be something new. Villanova won – like they did with all the other home games this year. However, there would be a little controversy at the end.
Albany got the ball to start off the game and they would have no problem navigating their way down the field. The Great Danes pieced together a nice drive with a good combination of run and pass plays. Will Fiacchi connected with Cole King, who would fumble it at the one-yard line. It was recovered by Jason Ceneus in the end zone, the first of two recoveries for Ceneus in the game. Villanova took over at the 20-yard line and made the most of Albany’s misfortune. The Wildcats put together a nice drive and finished it off with a 9-yard touchdown run by John Robertson to get on the board first.
It didn’t take long for the Great Danes to respond. After collecting a first down, Albany went deep over the middle to tight end Brian Parker, who carried a number of defenders before going down at the four yard line. They handed it off to Omar Osborne on the next play and he quickly found the end zone for the tying touchdown. The drive lasted just under two minutes. Villanova had to one-up them. Much like Albany, they got a first down after two plays. An unsportsmanshiplike conduct penalty on Albany gave Villanova a 15-yard boost. On the next play, Robertson looked deep and sent a perfectly placed pass to Kevin Gulyas for a 37-yard touchdown pass. Their drive went for 57 seconds. The Wildcats had a 14-7 lead to close out the first quarter.
The Great Danes opened up the second quarter with a few fireworks. Fiacchi found King once again for another long completion, however this time he would not fumble the ball. King would go down at the 9-yard line. Osborne got a pair of carries, but was stopped just before the end zone. On third-and-one, Albany received a false start penalty and later, a delay of game penalty. Now third-and-11, they looked to send it through the air, but Villanova’s pass rush pressured Fiacchi into throwing it away. Patrick Toole would make the 29-yard field goal to make it 14-10.
The rest of the first half was all Villanova. On the following drive, Robertson led the way with his legs. He capped it off with a 22-yard touchdown run to build onto their lead. Albany would punt for the first time in the game and pin the Wildcats down at the one yard line. What looked like a tough situation for the Wildcats ended up being okay. They worked their way down field, while competing against the ticking clock. Later in the drive, Robertson would run it in for another touchdown, giving Villanova a 28-10 lead with five seconds left in the half.
The second half opened up with more excitement for the home crowd. After a nice pair of Kevin Monangai carries, Robertson connected with a wide-open Gulyas for a long 62-yard touchdown. Albany would fumble the ball away for the second time. Once again, Villanova would take advantage of Albany’s mistakes. They produced another touchdown scoring drive, this time Monangai took it up the gut for the score. As the temperature continued to drop, Villanova’s score rose. They now had a 42-10 lead.
Villanova’s clean slate wouldn’t last forever. On their next possession, an ugly fumble was recovered and returned to the 3-yard line by Michael Nicastro. Robertson chased him down and had the touchdown saving play, but it wouldn’t matter. A few plays later, Osborne found the end zone again for Albany.
Despite the big lead, things got interesting in the fourth quarter. Both teams exchanged touchdowns. On the final drive of the game, it was Villanova’s ball. The drive started with 48 seconds remaining in the game. Instead of kneeling, senior Fred O’Connor got the ball twice for a total of 20 rushing yards until the clock ran down. After the game, Albany head coach Greg Gattuso refused to shake Andy Talley‘s hand. Tempers were flaring and it found its way into the press conference room. Gattuso was upset with Talley’s decision to not kneel the ball and accused him of running up the score, to which Talley thought was absolute nonsense. Nonetheless, Villanova walks out with the 48-31 win.
John Robertson finished the night with 225 passing yards and two passing touchdowns. He added another 168 yards on the ground and three rushing touchdowns. With tonight’s performance, he moved up a number of statistical all-time lists. He is now in second for career total offense with 9,622 yards. The only person standing in his way is Chris Boden who had 10,146 yards. Robertson is third in career scoring totals with 258 points. Lastly, he passed Chris Whitney to take third in passing yards.
Kevin Monangai ran for his 13th career 100-yard rushing game. He finished the game with 19 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown. Senior Austin Medley had 64 yards and a touchdown off of nine carries. Kevin Gulyas had three receptions for 106 yards and two touchdowns. Poppy Livers added five receptions for 52 yards. Villanova’s rushing attack was unstoppable, 359 of 584 yards came through the ground.
Albany’s Will Fiacchi completed 21-of-28 pass attempts for 331 yards and two touchdowns. Omar Osborne tallied 18 carries for 64 yards and two touchdowns. Brian Parker finished with five receptions for 103 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Villanova takes on Delaware for its season finale “Battle of the Blue.” Kickoff is at 12 p.m.