Saturday, September 15, 2012

UAlbany FCS Football Edged By #5 Youngstown State, 31-24

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - In the battle to stay perfect, the University at Albany football team had the hosting No. 5 Youngstown State University Penguins on the ropes deep into the second half. However, the nationally ranked squad held off the rising Great Danes down stretch, as UAlbany fell, 31-24, Saturday evening at Stambaugh Stadium in front of a crowd of 15,840.

Sophomore quarterback Will Fiacchi was impressive again; totaling a career-high 228 yards passing, completing 23-of-35 pass attempts, and throwing two touchdowns. In the first half, the Marcellus, N.Y. native was nearly perfect completing 14-of-15 with a throw-away. Cole King was his go-to for the second straight game, as he made seven catches for 115 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, Jon Morgan led the Great Danes with 10 tackles, followed by Chris Wilk's nine.

For the first time this season, the Great Danes struck first. On the Guins' first drive of the afternoon, safety Brandon Baylor's hard hit spoiled the Penguins' opening drive, popping the ball into the hands of teammate Justinian Mason. UAlbany's offense quickly took a 7-0 lead on a spectacular flea-flicker play called by offensive coordinator Ryan McCarthy. After two flicks of the ball, Fiacchi found a wide open Kevin Chillis 44-yards down the middle of the gridiron, who stepped easily into the end zone.

However, in the seesaw game, Youngstown State quickly responded with a touchdown of their own, following a 10-play, 87-yard drive down the field. Jamaine Cook capped the possession with a two-yard rush to even the score, 7-7, after the kick.

In their next drive, the Penguins scored in similar fashion, as Cook jaunted seven yards across the goal line with 13:27 remaining in the second half.

Despite allowing 14 straight points to the hosts, UAlbany fought back with an eight-play drive, finished by Omar Osbourne's 32-yard dance through the Guins' defense. Sean Kenny's extra point tied the ball game
Scoring his third straight touchdown for YSU, Cook gave Youngstown State the lead again with another seven-yard rush. Cook finished the day with three scores and 161 rushing yards.

Unwilling to go away after traveling nearly 500 miles for the contest, the Great Danes matched the Penguins heading into the half, after Fiachhi connected with Drew Smith on a nine-yard pass to the left side of the end zone with just nine seconds remaining before the break.

Unfortunately that would the closest UAlbany would get, as YSU held the lead the remainder of the way.

After a very offensively heavy first half, defense ruled in the second, as both squads were forced to punt away in their opening drives. After the third straight punt, Youngstown State broke the stalemate with David Brown's 25-yard field goal with 2:15 to go in the third quarter.

Trailing, 24-21, the UAlbany offense was forced to punt after a three-and-out with 5:28 remaining in the game, but YSU's Ali Chealb got a hand on it and put the Penguins in good scoring position. While the UAlbany defensive line held strong, including a huge third-and-one stop on the goal line, the Guins found the end zone on their fourth-and-goal attempt to take a 10-point lead.

The Great Danes still hung in there, marching down the field from their own 20. Unable to get into the end zone, Kenny made it a one-possession game with his 30-yard field goal with 57 seconds remaining in the contest.

Youngstown State was able to handle the on-sides kick and ran out the clock to keep their 3-0 record unblemished, while UAlbany fell to 2-1 on the season.

"We knew we were going to have trouble containing them but we held them to a respectable point," said head coach Bob Ford. "We had some big plays, we had a chance to win it in the fourth quarter. I told the kids just to keep it close heading into the fourth quarter and we did that."

"It was a great game against a great team. I wish them well," added Coach Ford.

UAlbany will play its third straight road game next Saturday when the Great Danes travel to take on Maine. Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m. in Orono.

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