Saturday, November 15, 2014

University of Albany's Fiacchi, Osbourne Hit Career Milestones In 48-31 Slip At No. 6 Villanova - UAlbany Sports 2014

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports

VILLANOVA, Pa. – University at Albany fifth-year seniors Will Fiacchi and Omar Osbourne rewrote the Great Danes’ record book Saturday night against No. 6 Villanova, as UAlbany fell to the Wildcats 48-31 at Villanova Stadium. The loss dropped the Danes to 6-5 on the season and 2-5 in the CAA, while Villanova improved to 9-2 overall and 6-1 in conference play.

Redshirt senior quarterback Will Fiacchi tied UAlbany’s all-time career passing record, as he logged 331 passing yards and two touchdowns against the Wildcats. Completing 21-of-28 attempts in the clash, Fiacchi now has 7,015 career passing yards which matches all-time leader Joe Savino who played from 1994-98.

In addition, redshirt senior running back Omar Osbourne made his mark in the archives Saturday, surpassing 3,000 career rushing yards and 1,000 rushing yards this season. With 18 carries, Osbourne accrued 64 rushing yards and two touchdowns, jumping to third-place all-time with 3,062 career yards and 1,045 yards this fall. He marks the fourth UAlbany player in history to rush for over 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons.

Totaling 408 yards of offense as a team, Fiacchi connected with senior tight end Brian Parker for a pair of touchdowns, as the Henrietta, N.Y. native recorded a career-high 103 receiving yards on five receptions. Classmate Cole King also had five catches, totaling 92 receiving yards, while true freshman Josh Gontarek and redshirt freshman Brad Harris each logged four for 57 and 48 yards, respectively.

Defensively, redshirt sophomore Michael Nicastro led the squad with 10 tackles, including seven solo, as well as a 40-yard fumble recovery. Senior T.J. Idowu followed with nine tackles (8 solo), while redshirt senior Christian Dorsey had eight (4 solo).

The story of Villanova’s offense was junior quarterback John Robertson. The reigning CAA Offensive Player of the Year led the ‘Cats to 584 yards of total offense, as he rushed for 168 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries, and passed for 225 yards and two touchdowns, completing 15-of-21 attempts. Running back Kevin Monangai also contributed to the host’s 359 rushing yards with 101 of his own on 19 carries. Wide receiver Kevin Gulyas tacked on 106 receiving yards and two touchdowns on three receptions.

Marching down the field in the opening possession, the Great Danes used seven plays to quickly cover 73 yards. However, Fiacchi’s 28-yard pass to King resulted in a fumble at the 1-yard line, as he tried to stretch his way across the goal line. Cameron McCurry was credited with the strip and the Wildcats took over on a touchback.

Taking full advantage, Villanova proceeded to score a touchdown in its next six straight posessions. The Wildcats made their first mark on Robertson’s nine-yard touchdown rush with 4:11 remaining in the first quarter.

UAlbany answered immediately, as Fiacchi hit Gontarek with a 12-yard pass and Parker for a 54-yarder, setting up Osbourne’s four-yard touchdown run with 2:12 left in the opening stanza. Patrick Toole’s point-after tied it up, 7-7.

However, the ‘Cats quickly responded, using just three plays to get into the end zone on Robertson’s 37-yard pass to Gulyas at the 1:08 mark.

Hanging close, Fiacchi completed his first eight passes of the game, including a 52-yard missile to King that put the Danes on the Villanova-9. However, a false start penalty and a delay of game penalty, consecutively, set UAlbany back on third-down. After heavy pressure in the pocket forced fourth-down, Toole nailed a 29-yard field goal with 12:32 left in the half, cutting the deficit to four, 14-10.

“Villanova is a good football team. They took it to us -- we just did not respond defensively at all,” said Head Coach Greg Gattuso. “I thought we moved the ball very, very well; we just had a turnover in the end zone and the penalties kept us from trying to keep pace.”

Villanova went on to score two more touchdowns before the break, as Robertson scampered 22-yards into the end zone with 8:38 on the clock. Even after Jon Martin’s 40-yard punt pinned the Wildcats on their own 1-yard line, Villanova managed to drive 99 yards on 13 plays for a touchdown on Robertson’s two-yard run.

The Wildcats took a 28-10 lead into halftime and after the hiatus stretched the margin to 32 points, 42-10, scoring touchdowns in their next two possessions. Robertson connected a 62-yard pass to Gulyas for the first with 13:47 left in the third, and Monangai capped their second drive of the quarter with a two-yard push at the 8:55 mark.

After a 41-yard punt by Martin put the ‘Cats on their eight-yard line, UAlbany made its first defensive stop of the game. Facing 2nd-and-2 on the 50, Marcel Ngachie knocked the ball out of Manangai’s grasps and into the hands of Nicastro who scurried 40 yards to the Villanova-3. Osbourne took care of the rest, juking his way three yards across the goal line with 3:44 remaining in the quarter. With Toole’s point-after, UAlbany trailed 42-17.

Next, the Danes’ defense made another stop, forcing the ‘Cats to punt away and took over on the UAlbany-22. Sparked by a 31-yard pass to Gontarek, UAlbany covered 78 yards on seven plays for a touchdown, as Fiacchi hit Parker with an 8-yard pass and the 6’4 tight end dragged the defense across the goal line. The touchdown and extra point made the score 42-24 with 10:24 left in the game.

Driving 80 yards on eight plays, Villanova scored one more touchdown on Austin Medley’s 12-yard run with 6:03 to go.

However, the Great Danes had the last word, as Fiacchi completed 5-of-6 pass attempts in the final possession, including a drive-capping 25-yard pass to Parker in the back of the end zone with 49 seconds remaining. The touchdown and point-after made the final score 48-31.

“I challenged our team to fight in the second half and I thought they did,” said Gattuso. “I couldn’t be prouder of these guys for their effort and how they went out and fought in the second half when it would have been easy just to let it go.”

The Great Danes close the 2014 regular season at home Saturday, Nov. 22 with the Empire Clash against in-state rival Stony Brook. The squad’s 12 seniors will be honored in a pregame ceremony at 3:00 p.m. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. at Bob Ford Field.

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