Mercurio’s field goal lifts Villanova over Albany 31-29

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Matthew Mercurio kicked a 28-yard field goal on the final play of the game and Connor Watkins threw three touchdown passes to propel Villanova to a 31-29 victory over Albany on Saturday.

Watkins connected with Rayjoun Pringle for an 80-yard touchdown on a first-down play with 4:44 remaining in the game to give Villanova (4-3, 2-2 Colonial Athletic Association) a 28-16 lead.

Reese Poffenbarger answered with two touchdown passes to Thomas Greaney 61 seconds apart — covering 4 and 5 yards — and Albany (1-6, 0-4) grabbed a 29-28 lead with 53 seconds left to play.

That was enough time for the Wildcats, who used Watkins’ 23-yard pass to Dez Boykin and defensive-holding and pass-interference penalties to keep the drive alive and set up Mercurio’s winning kick.

Villanova jumped out to a 21-0 lead on TD Ayo-Durojaiye’s 70-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and Watkins’ scoring tosses to Jaaron Hayek covering 18 yards and a 20-yarder to Pringle in the second.

Albany didn’t get on the scoreboard until Poffenbarger hit Brevin Easton for a 26-yard touchdown with 6 seconds left in the first half. Poffenbarger’s 1-yard touchdown run and Elijah Hills’ sack of Watkins for an 11-yard loss and a safety left the Great Danes trailing 21-16 after three quarters.

Watkins completed 18 of 26 passes for 292 yards for the Wildcats. Ayo-Durojaiye rushed for 136 yards on 20 carries. Pringle totaled 143 yards on four catches.

Poffenbarger completed 33 of 42 passes for 370 yards with three touchdowns and an interception for the Great Danes. Poffenbarger also accounted for 44 of Albany’s 57 rushing yards on 14 carries.

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