Saturday, November 22, 2014

University of AlbanyFootball Caps 2014 Season With 27-17 Triumph Over Stony Brook - UAlbany Sports 2014

Courtesy: UA Sports

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Capping his tenure with a career-long 68-yard touchdown run in the closing minutes of Saturday’s in-state rivalry game versus Stony Brook, redshirt senior running back Omar Osbourne led the University at Albany football team to a 27-17 victory over the visiting Seawolves. With the win, UAlbany finished its first season under Head Coach Greg Gattuso with a 7-5 overall record and 3-5 mark in the CAA. Meanwhile, Stony Brook dropped to 5-7 on the season and 4-4 in conference play.

“He made a lot of hard runs and that was a reward for all those hard runs,” said Head Coach Greg Gattuso on Osbourne’s touchdown scamper. “He punishes guys when he runs. Tonight the defense was playing well and he just kept beating on them, and beating on them, and beating on them.”

Osbourne totaled 166 rushing yards and a touchdown in his final game donning purple and gold, carrying the ball 24 times. With 3,229 career rushing yards, Osbourne ends his tenure ranked third all-time in UAlbany’s archives.

Entering Saturday’s clash tied for the all-time passing yards record, redshirt senior Will Fiacchi totaled 135 passing yards and a touchdown, taking sole possession of first-place all-time and raising the record to 7,150 yards. In addition, he broke Dan Di Lella's single-season passing record, totalling 2,636 yards this fall. Fiacchi completed 12-of-27 passes against the Seawolves, including a 33-yard touchdown toss to fellow redshirt senior Cole King.

King led the receiving corps with five catches and 72 receiving yards, ending his career ranked second all-time for receptions (148) receiving yards (2,217), and touchdown catches (18) at UAlbany.

True freshman wide receiver Josh Gontarek recorded his first rushing touchdown of his career on a 13-yard run, while also snagging three receptions for a total of 14 yards. He finished his rookie campaign with a team-high nine touchdowns. Redshirt freshman Brad Harris also had three catches, accruing 33 yards.

Defensively, junior Kyle Sakowski led the Great Danes with two interceptions and a fumble force and recovery. In addition, he added four tackles, including one for a loss. Redshirt sophomore Michael Nicastro recorded a game-high 10 tackles (4 solo) and also had an interception, while T.J. Idowu followed with eight tackles (4 solo).

After celebrating the squad’s 13 seniors prior to kickoff, UAlbany and Stony Brook went toe-to-toe in the opening stanza, as neither team was able to break onto the board.

With a wintery mix falling from the sky, both teams had trouble hanging onto the ball throughout the game as each squad recovered two fumbles in the contest. Stony Brook fumbled the opening kickoff but was still able to recover.

UAlbany fumbled and lost the ball at midfield on their second drive with just over eight minutes left in the first quarter, but the Great Dane defense limited the Seawolves to a 32-yard field goal attempt that sailed wide right, leaving the game scoreless heading to the second quarter.

UAlbany broke the silence with 8:06 remaining in the second, when Fiacchi found King in the end zone with a 33-yard pass. King fought off his defender and won the jump ball, giving the Great Danes a 7-0 head start following Patrick Toole’s point-after. 

UAlbany’s defense stepped up on the next drive, forcing a three-and-out with back-to-back sacks, setting the Seawolves back 16-yards. However on the punt, Stony Brook recovered a fumble on the catch and took over on the UAlbany-16 yard line. Again, though, the Danes’ defense limited the damage stalling the offense and forcing a 33-yard field goal. Przemyslaw Popek’s successful kick made the score 7-3 with 4:50 left in the half.

That’s where the score stayed at the break after a pair of turnovers amounted to nothing on the board. With 1:15 on the clock Sakowski ripped the ball out of the hands of Stony Brook running back Stacey Bedell on the first play of the drive, and recovered it on the SBU-38. However, the Seawolves held UAlbany off, picking off Fiacchi’s pass at the 13-yard line with 30 seconds left in the half.

While UAlbany was forced to punt in its first possession out of the break, the Danes forced back-to-back turnovers that led to six straight points for the hosts. On Stony Brook’s first possession, Sakowski again put the ball back into the hands of the Great Danes’ offense as he intercepted Conor Bednarski’s pass at the UAlbany-42.

UAlbany turned the miscue into points, driving 48-yards on 10 plays to set up Toole’s 28-yard field goal that gave the Danes a 10-3 lead at the 6:29 mark.

Two plays later, the Great Dane defense stripped the ball away from the Seawolves again, as Samuel Gray hit quarterback John kinder knocking the ball loose and into the hands of Neil Morrison at the SBU-26.

Toole’s 39-yard field from the resulting possession gave UAlbany a 13-3 advantage with 4:41 remaining in the third quarter.

To start the fourth quarter, the Seawolves barked first, driving 95-yards after Jon Martin’s season-long 72-yard punt pinned the Seawolves on the five. Using just three plays to cover the distance, Kinder connected a 79-yard touchdown pass to Adrian Coxson, cutting the margin to three, 13-10, with 14:13 to go.

However, the Great Danes answered immediately, using a steady running attack to cover 76-yard on 11 plays. Osbourne wore down the defense with six straight carries for a gain of 35 yards and Gontarek capped the drive with a 13-yard scamper into the end zone, giving UAlbany a 20-10 lead with 8:11 remaining.

Stony Brook battled back, scoring a touchdown of their own on Marcus Coker’s 2-yard run, cutting the deficit to three points again, 20-17, with 5:00 minutes remaining.

That’s when Osbourne took the game into his own hands. Getting the ball three straight times, the Syracuse, N.Y. native broke free for a career-long 68-yard touchdown run, giving the Danes some breathing room. Toole’s point-after made the score 27-17.

Beginning to march down the field, Stony Brook made it to the UAlbany-26 yard line before Nicastro picked off Kinder’s pass at the 17 and returned it 14 yards to the 31-yard line.

While the Danes were forced to punt with 28 seconds remaining, Sakowski sealed the victory, picking off Stony Brook’s Hail Mary pass in the closing seconds.

Stony Brook entered the game as the top-ranked defense in the conference, allowing an average of just 14.3 points and 104.7 rushing yards per game. In the win, UAlbany almost doubled those numbers with 27 points and 215 rushing yards, totaling 350 yards of offense.

The win snapped UAlbany’s two-game skid to the Seawolves including last year's 24-3 loss on Long lsland and 2011’s 31-28 FCS playoff slip.

“This game, we were ready,” said Fiacchi. “We knew that we were going to lay it all on the line and there was no way they were going to be tougher than us this time.” 

UAlbany’s 7-5 overall record marks the 12th winning season in the Danes’ Division I history (16 years) and 27th winning season in varsity history (42 years).

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