Saturday, November 10, 2012

UAlbany FCS Football Uses Huge First Half To Down Duquesne, 38-31

PITTSBURGH - In a game divided, the University at Albany football team overcame the hosting Duquesne University Dukes, 38-31, Saturday afternoon at Rooney Field in a key Northeast Conference contest. The Great Danes came out with vengeance in the opening half, taking a 35-7 lead at the break, but the Dukes came storming back, scoring the first 17 points of the second stanza. In the end, UAlbany held on to improve to 8-2 overall and 6-1 in conference. They now will play for at least a share of the NEC title next weekend against Central Connecticut State. After totaling just 188 yards of total offense last week against Wagner, the Great Danes made up for that in just one quarter versus the Dukes. In the second quarter alone, UAlbany totaled 217 yards of offense. By halftime, the Great Danes had five touchdowns to their name, credited to five different players. UAlbany finished the game with 439 yards of total offense and 24 first downs. Senior Drew Smith led the Great Danes' running game with 143 yards on 25 carries, and totaled 164 all-purpose yards, including two catches. In addition, Smith scored his 42nd career touchdown, tying UAlbany's program record. Omar Osbourne also crossed the goal line and rushed 80 yards, while finishing with 102 all-purpose yards. Likewise, Kevin Chillis was credited a touchdown, showing spectacular agility, accumulating 64 rushing yards in the win. Sophomore quarterback Will Fiachhi completed 14-of-22 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. Classmate Cole King was his top receiver with three catches, including one for a score, and 54 receiving yards. Defensively, Chris Wilk led the squad with seven unassisted tackles and a sack, while Jon Morgan dropped five, snagged an interception, and blocked a punt. Senior Dean Mercuris also had a solid game with five tackles, a sack, a pass break up, and two quarterback hurries. To start the contest, the Great Danes' defense forced a quick three-and-out. Back in the lineup, Smith quickly made a statement, putting UAlbany on the board with a one-yard rush, capping a 14-play, 76-yard drive, at the 7:44 mark in the first quarter. Osbourne's three-yard run across the goal line with 14:03 to go in the second quarter gave the Great Danes a 14-0 head start, after UAlbany's seven-play, 64-yard drive. However, playing in his last home game of his career, senior running back Larry McCoy put the Dukes on the board with 11:17 left in the half. McCoy rushed two yards, capping a 77-yard drive. With 9:27 left in the half, Paul Layton's 49-yard punt pinned the Dukes at their own five-yard line, later proving to be a huge play in the game. The Great Danes defense followed with a quick three-and-out, forcing Duquesne to punt out of the end zone, and the ball landed out of bounds just 24-yards away. With fantastic field position, Chillis took advantage on what could have been a broken play. On a wild pitch, Chillis scrambled away from the defense, reversed, and then turned up field 34 yards and into the end zone for a 21-7 advantage with 7:30 left in the half. "It's hard to tackle Chillis in a phone booth," said Bob Ford in the heat of the game action. With 1:47 left in the second quarter, Fiacchi faked a handoff to Osbourne and ran 10 yards untouched for a touchdown. The 10-play, 4:38 minute drive gave the Great Danes a 21-point lead, 28-7. Defensive pressure, including Joe Fasano's sack for a loss of six yards, forced the Dukes to punt with 59 seconds remaining. Morgan got a hand on it, giving the Danes the ball on their own 41. UAlbany capitalized. With six seconds on the clock, Fiacchi found King in the back of the end zone, 23 yards out, sending the Danes into the break ahead 35-7. However, while the first half belonged to UAlbany, the second half was primarily Duquesne's. The Dukes scored 17 unanswered points, kicked off by Rich Piekarski's blocked punt. One play later Gianni Carter caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Sean Patterson with 7:05 remaining in the third quarter. Duquesne struck again with Charley Leventry's 26-yard field goal with 12:54 left in the fourth quarter. After recovering their onside kick, the Dukes cut the deficit to 11, 35-24. Patterson capped an eight-play drive with a four-yard rush. The Great Danes broke their scoring drought with Sean Kenny's 30-yard field goal with 2:12 remaining in the contest. With the clock ticking down, the Dukes continued to threaten, driving 75-yards with seven plays including a 51-yard Hail Mary pass to McCoy on a third-and-five play that put Duqusene on the 19 yard line. Sean Brady capped the drive with a grab in the end zone with 11 seconds remaining, putting the Dukes within seven, 38-31. However, the onside kick was not successful in the second attempt, and the Great Danes were able to run out the waning seconds with a knee. UAlbany closes out the regular season next Saturday at home against Central Connecticut State. A win will secure at least a share of the NEC title with Wagner. With first-place Wagner playing Duquesne, a loss for the Seahawks and win for the Danes will send UAlbany to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year. Senior Day kickoff will be at 1:00 p.m. at University Field.

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