Saturday, October 15, 2011

University of Albany FCS Football Gains First Place in Northeast Conference Standings with 28-17 Homecoming Victory - UAlbany Sports 2011

Albany, N.Y. - Quarterback Dan Di Lella passed for a career-high 279 yards and three touchdowns in leading UAlbany to a 28-17 Northeast Conference victory over Robert Morris on Saturday, Oct. 15 at University Field. The Great Danes, who have won four straight, moved into sole possession of first place in the conference standings.

UAlbany (4-2, NEC 3-0) scored on two consecutive possessions in the opening quarter and grabbed a 14-0 lead. After a short punt by Robert Morris' Tony LaMancusa, Di Lella went upstairs on the first play from scrimmage and wide receiver Cole King made a leaping 44-yard touchdown catch in the end zone. The Great Danes followed with an 11-play, 80-yard march. DiLella, who completed 20-of-30 through the air, twice hooked up with Nick Hutcherson during the series, including a 9-yard scoring pass with 3:46 left in the period.

The Great Danes, who were playing before a homecoming crowd, took advantage of a mistake by the visitors midway through the second quarter when fullback Jamar Cromwell fumbled on a third-and-two play and cornerback Duane Harper made the recovery at the Colonials' 36. After the UAlbany offense later backed up due to a holding penalty, Di Lella moved to his right and found wide receiver Ryan Kirchner in the end zone, who got one foot inside the end line on a 27-yard touchdown catch.

"It was a broken play," explained Di Lella, who also threw three touchdown passes two weeks ago against Saint Francis, Pa. "Ryan (Kirchner) gave me a wave hello. I didn't see it, but I heard it was a great catch. It was good that we able to jump on them, because they jumped on us last year."

Robert Morris (2-4, NEC 2-1) dominated the third quarter to get back into the contest. Safety Cameron Chadwick stopped tailback Andrew Smith on fake-punt run to jump-start his team's first touchdown. The Colonials moved eight plays to paydirt. Quarterback Jeff Sinclair converted a third-and-nine situation with a 16-yard pass to tight end Shadrae King. Sinclair, who threw for 158 yards and added 78 on the ground, connected with Donte Jeter on an 8-yard TD. The all-conference signal-caller led his squad on a 13-play drive during its next offensive set that resulted in Greg Langer's 36-yard field on the last play of the stanza.

Still leading 21-10, UAlbany regained momentum on its next series with a six-play scoring march, all on the ground. Dillon Roman, a sophomore tailback, rushed five straight times, including a 34-yard burst into RMU territory. Romain, who ran 13 times for a season-best 93 yards, bounced off a pile and across the goal line on a one-yard blast with 12:53 remaining. Sinclair wrapped up the scoring with a 17-yard touchdown run in the final minute of play.

"We dominated play early and got up by 21 points with an opportunity to get one or two more scores," said UAlbany coach Bob Ford, whose team has its longest winning streak since the 2009 season. "We have some correctable mistakes to address, especially the penalties. We have got to come back down to earth, because next week's opponent beat us last year."

UAlbany's Smith added 90 rushing yards on 17 carries, as his team racked up more than 440 total yards for the fourth consecutive game. Kirchner had six receptions for 66 yards, and King hauled in four passes for 97.

"We were able to keep pressure (on the quarterback) with four guys," said defensive end Eddie Delaney, who had four tackles, 1.5 sacks and a pass break-up. "It frees up our linebackers and allows everyone to stay in coverage. The NEC is very competitive. You have to treat every game like it's a championship."

Paw Prints: UAlbany won its sixth consecutive Homecoming & Fall Festival game and improved to 28-11 all-time ... the Great Danes avenged a pair of losses to Robert Morris, after suffering a 38-0 setback last year and a last-second 13-10 defeat in 2009

... the Great Danes have won four in a row, their longest win streak since October 2009

... UAlbany's offense has totaled more than 435 yards in four consecutive games for the first time since the 2000 campaign ... QB Dan Di Lella's 279 passing yards ties the eighth-highest single-game total in program history ... TB Andrew Smith gained 100-plus all-purpose yards for the fourth straight game ... DT Zach Gallo had three tackles and a sack and joined the 100-career tackle club (102) ... Megan Buchanan (1996-00), basketball & golf, Steve Checksfield (1998-02), baseball & football, Samantha Cohen (1995-99,) cross country/track & field, and Howard Sellers (1990-94), track & field, were inducted into the UAlbany Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday evening and served as honorary game captains for the pre-game coin toss.

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