Saturday, October 2, 2010

University of Albany FCS Football Upends Unbeaten Ivy League Yale - UAlbany Sports 2010

New Haven, Conn. - Freshman tailback Dillon Romain scored on a one-yard run midway through the fourth quarter, and UAlbany held on for a 23-20 non-conference victory over Yale on Saturday, Oct. 2 at the historic Yale Bowl. The two teams were meeting for the first time.

UAlbany (2-2) put together a 14-play, 80-yard drive in the final period for what proved to be the winning points. Quarterback Dan Di Lella twice connected on third-down throws to keep the sequence alive. His 10-yard completion to Nick Hutcherson gave his team a first down at the Yale 27. Di Lella later hit fullback Justin Petersen in the left flat for nine yards to the one-yard line. Romain blasted over right guard for the score, but the extra point was missed right and the Great Danes had a 23-13 lead.

Yale (2-1) cut into the margin on a short drive that was assisted by two personal foul penalties. Quarterback Pat Witt drilled a 16-yard touchdown pass to Chris Smith, who was wide open in the back corner of the right end zone with 4:19 to play. The Bulldogs attempted an on-side kick, but the ball was illegally touched. UAlbany's offense was later held on fourth down at the Yale 17. The Great Danes' defense stiffened and cornerback Leon Saddler broke up a fourth-down pass to preserve the victory.

"We played hard and fairly intelligent for fifty minutes," said UAlbany coach Bob Ford, whose program had suffered setbacks in its previous three games with Ivy League teams. "After the first drive, we pretty much controlled first downs. When you take away the run, the play-calling is entirely different."

In the first half, special teams dominated the action with big plays and mistakes. The Bulldogs marched 10 plays to the end zone with the opening kickoff. Witt, who hit on 21-of-46 through the air for 246 yards, threw a pair of third-down completions, before connecting with tight end Jordan Forney on a 24-yard scoring pass. Forney leaped over a defender to make the catch at the goal line. The extra-point was blocked by UAlbany linebacker Jon Morgan.

UAlbany came up empty with a 12-play drive on its first possession when Herb Glass missed a 24-yard field goal to the right. However, defensive tackle Trevor Anderson picked up his team when he broke through to block Alex Barnes' punt and safety Justinian Mason raced to paydirt with the loose ball from the seven-yard line for a 7-6 lead.

A Paul Layton kick that was downed at the one-yard line backed up the Yale offense and forced Barnes to punt from his own end zone. UAlbany took advantage as Di Lella fired a 16-yard touchdown pass to freshman receiver Jameel Gay with 2:28 left in the quarter. Outside linebacker Chris Blais followed with a 35-yard interception return that led to Glass' 25-yard field goal and a 17-6 lead.

The Bulldogs, who were off to their best start since 2007, came up with some special teams' trickery on the final play of the half to close the gap. Witt, a Nebraska transfer, scrambled from midfield 22 yards into UAlbany territory with one second remaining. Yale lined up for a 45-yard field goal attempt, but Forney, as the holder, took the snap and rumbled over the left side before stretching across the goal line on a 28-yard touchdown run.

"This was very important for us," UAlbany defensive end Eddie Delaney offered. "We told everyone to calm down (at halftime) and to get ready for the second half. We used a blitz package and got good pressure. We were trying to shut down the run and make them pass."

The Bulldogs, who were receiving votes in The Sports Network national poll, looked to take the lead in third quarter. Using a double-reverse, flea-flicker play, Witt hit wideout Gio Christodoulou with a 45-yard pass to the UAlbany 2. But the Great Danes kept the threat off the scoreboard. Linebacker Said Gaida defended a third-down throw and Barnes' 20-yard field goal attempt was blocked with 2:19 left in the quarter.

"This is a great place (the Yale Bowl)," said UAlbany captain and center Andy Sparano, whose rushing attack was led by Andrew Smith (67 yards) and Romain (51 yards). "We needed a spark and we can build on this momentum going back into conference play."

Paw Prints: UAlbany was winless in its previous three meetings with Ivy League opponents ... the Great Danes lost to Brown (2003, 2004) and Cornell (2006) ... there were 10 significant special teams plays that decided UAlbany's first appearance at the historic Yale Bowl ... Justinian Mason scored on a 7-yard blocked punt return in the first quarter, the first UAlbany player to reach the end zone in that situation since Jelani Dandles' 25-yard TD runback against St. John's on Oct. 13, 2000 ... Dillon Romain ran for 43 of his 51 yards in the fourth quarter ... UAlbany improved to 8-11 in Division I FCS games decided by three points or less.

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information

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