Saturday, October 17, 2009

Football Battles Bryant in a Northeast Conference Matchup Today at University Field

Albany, N.Y. - UAlbany battles Bryant in a Northeast Conference matchup on Saturday, Oct. 17 at University Field. Kickoff is 1:00 p.m. Fans can listen to the game on Fox Sports 980, WOFX-AM, with Rodger Wyland and Greg Tobben calling the action.

Bryant (3-2, NEC 2-0) is in its first season as a NEC member. The Bulldogs, who are off to a fine start in conference play with wins over Wagner and Robert Morris, put together an accomplished Division II resume. Head coach Marty Fine, who guided the program to a 7-4 record in its inaugural Division I campaign last year, led Bryant to a pair of conference titles and two Division II NCAA playoff appearances.

Running Jerell Smith, who is averaging 108.8 yards rushing yards, is one of the top players in the program's history. He is among the all-time leaders in rushing yards (2,128) and all-purpose yards (3,662). Smith ran for 179 yards and scored the winning touchdown against Wagner.

Sophomore Mike Croce, who has thrown for 765 yards and seven TDs, won the starting quarterback job in the preseason after transferring from Merrimack College. Linebacker Jason Riffe is the leading tackler in a 4-3 defensive scheme. Defensive end Don Smith (6-4, 255) has 14 career sacks, while linebacker Aaron Bryant (2 blocked kicks) is playing as a graduate student after appearing in 20 games for Division I FBS Connecticut as a undergraduate.

UAlbany (4-2, NEC 3-0) performed well in all three phases of the game in a 55-10 victory over Duquesne on Oct. 10. Justin Gannon, the NEC co-special teams player of the week, scored on a 78-yard punt return and outside linebacker Jon Morgan returned a fumble 56 yards to paydirt in a 28-point second quarter. David McCarty rushed for 145 yards and two scores and has reached the century mark in four straight starts.

The Great Danes' defense has been a consistent force in extending the team's conference win streak to 16 in a row, the nation's longest at the FCS level. Justin Brancaccio, a senior inside linebacker, had a team-high nine tackles against Duquesne and leads the squad with 53 this season. Senior outside linebacker Dave Nicomini (42 tackles, 5 PBUs) recently moved past the 200-career tackle mark. Brancaccio and Nicomini rank 16th and 19th, respectively, on the program's career chart.

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information

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