Saturday, November 8, 2014

UA Football Edged By Delaware, 31-28; Fiacchi Throws Career-High Four Touchdowns - UAlbany Sports 2014

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports

ALBANY, N.Y. – With 33 seconds remaining on Military Appreciation Day at Bob Ford Field Saturday, redshirt senior quarterback Will Fiacchi connected a 19-yard touchdown pass to true freshman Josh Gontarek, putting the Great Danes within three points, 31-28, in the final minute of play against Delaware. UAlbany’s onside kick attempt appeared to be successful as redshirt sophomore Michael Nicastro recovered, but an illegal blocking penalty negated the play and the visiting Blue Hens held on for the win. With the narrow victory, Delaware improved to 6-4 overall and 4-2 in the CAA, while UAlbany dropped to 6-4 on the season and 2-4 in conference play.

“We’re battling; we’re going to continue to battle. That’s who we are,” said Head Coach Greg Gattuso. “I’m proud of these guys the way they easily could have rolled it up, but didn’t. Even last week, we fought our tails off in the fourth quarter.”

Fiacchi led the team offensively with 335 passing yards and four touchdowns, completing 22-of-35 attempts with no interceptions. Gontarek served as his primary receiver, as he accrued a career-high 118 receiving yards and two touchdowns on six catches. Redshirt senior tight end Brian Parker also had six receptions, totaling 77 yards, while classmate Cole King logged three catches for 35 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown grab. Making the most of his one reception on the night, redshirt sophomore tight end Nic Ketter recorded a 38-yard touchdown reception.

On the ground, redshirt senior Omar Osbourne recorded 49 rushing yards on 11 carries.

Defensively, redshirt senior linebacker Christian Dorsey led the squad with a career-high 18 tackles (3 solo), followed by senior T.J. Idowu’s 13 (7 solo) and freshman Jamal Robinson’s career-best 10 (5 solo). Junior Kyle Sakowski tacked on nine (6 solo), while redshirt sophomore Christian Harris added eight tackles (3 solo), including a sack for a loss of 19 yards.

A back-and-forth first half, neither team scored in the opening stanza. Delaware made the first mark on the board with 11:33 remaining in the second quarter when the Blue Hens used 12 plays to drive 73 yards. UD running back Jalen Randolph capped the drive with a 1-yard rush to give the Blue Hens a 7-0 lead.

UAlbany answered immediately, as Fiacchi sparked the drive with a 44-yard pass to Parker. Completing 3-of-4 passes in the sequence, Fiacchi also hit Brad Harris for a 16-yarder and then King for another 16-yarder, resulting in a touchdown. Patrick Toole’s point-after tied the score, 7-7, with 9:57 left in the first half.

Halting the Delaware defense with Christian Harris’ 19-yard sack on third down, the Great Danes turned their next possession into another touchdown. Fiacchi again went 3-for-4, connecting a 27-yard pass to Gontarek, a nine yard pass to King, and capped the drive with a 38-yarder that led Ketter down the middle of the field and into the end zone. With 4:32 remaining in the second quarter, UAlbany led, 14-7.

Forcing a three-and-out, UAlbany looked to a take a two-score lead into the break, but Toole’s 50-yard field goal attempt landed short of the uprights with eight seconds on the clock.

Out of the break, Delaware turned its first possession into a touchdown, tying the score, 14-14, with the use of some trickery. Facing fourth-and-goal on the 2-yard line, the Blue Hens lined up for a field goal. However on the snap, holder Eric Enderson reversed and ran the ball into the end zone, as the Danes blitzed hard towards the fake kick.

“You’ve got to credit Delaware,” said Gattuso. “They made plays when they had to make them. The fake field goal was all on me. It was a bad decision on my part. I accept responsibility and ultimately it was the difference in the game.”

On UAlbany’s next possession, the Great Danes looked to punt, facing 4th-and-1 on the UAlbany-45. However, the snap to Jon Martin sailed high, landing at the UAlbany-16, forcing Martin to chase down the ball. The Blue Hens needed just one play to add a touchdown, as quarterback Trent Hurley connected with Jerel Harrison, giving Delaware the lead for good, 21-14, with 9:11 left in the third quarter.

Starting their next drive at the UAlbany-47, Delaware took a 28-14 advantage with 2:57 left in the third. The Blue Hens used nine plays to travel 47-yards, capping the drive with Wes Hills’ 4-yard run.

However, the Great Danes battled back, marching 79-yards down the field on seven plays, including a 26-yard pass to Harris followed by a drive-ending 29-yard touchdown toss to Gontarek in the back of the end zone. With Toole’s extra point, the Danes trailed 28-21 with 14:55 remaining.

Trying to preserve its lead, Delaware slowed down the pace of the game, chewing up nearly five minutes in the next drive before being forced to punt. The Blue Hens made their next stop on defense and then slowly worked their way down the gridiron again. With 1:34 remaining, Garrett Greenway hit a 31-yard field goal, giving Delaware a 31-21 advantage.

Undeterred, UAlbany quickly got to work, using just 55 seconds to travel 69 yards on four plays. Fiacchi completed a 10-yard pass to Parker, an 18-yarder to Gontarek, and then after a pass interference penalty moved the Danes into the red zone, Fiacchi connected a 19-yard touchdown pass to Gontarek, making it a one-score game, 31-28, with 33 seconds to go.

However, that is when the well-executed onside kick was spoiled by a ruled blocking penalty, and the Blue Hens were able to run the clock out from there, capturing their second straight three-point win over UAlbany.

For Delaware, Hurley finished with 173 passing yards, completing 18-of-24 passes. Randolph led the squad’s running attack with 104 rushing yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.

Up next, UAlbany travels to take on No. 7 Villanova on Nov. 15 at 7:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on the American Sports Network.

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