Saturday, December 6, 2008

MVP David McCarty Scores Four Touchdowns in UAlbany's 28-0 Gridiron Classic Bowl Victory Over Jacksonville University

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information

Albany, N.Y. – David McCarty rushed for a career-high 271 yards and four touchdowns in leading UAlbany to a 28-0 victory over Jacksonville in the third annual Gridiron Classic on Saturday, Dec. 6 at University Field. The exempted postseason game features the champions of the Northeast Conference and Pioneer Football League.

UAlbany (9-3) scored on its first possession after returned the opening kickoff 44 yards past midfield. Quarterback Vinny Esposito, who connected on 15 of 25 attempts for 141 yards, hooked up with wide receiver Tim Bush on a 17-yard completion into the red zone. McCarty, a junior tailback, then broke a couple of tackles en route to a 16-yard touchdown run.

Both offenses fizzled for the remainder of the first half as the teams combined for five turnovers. UAlbany defensive end Mike Kelly sacked quarterback Josh McGregor from behind and forced a fumble that was recovered by safety Dave West. The Great Danes returned the favor when McCarty was stripped by cornerback Oscar Johnson inside the Dolphins’ five-yard line. Jacksonville (9-4) had an opportunity to draw even with less than two minutes left in the period, but halfback J.J. Laster fumbled at the UAlbany 19 and outside linebacker Emerson Kinsey pounced on the loose ball.

The Great Danes, who lost in this same game last year, finally uncorked their attack midway through the third quarter. Esposito fired a 30-yard completion to Bush, who made a diving catch at the Dolphins’ 12. McCarty then carried three straight times, including a one-yard blast over left guard into the end zone for a 14-0 advantage.

The NEC champions scored twice in the final stanza to put the game away. UAlbany held on to the ball for six-plus minutes in a 12-play march. McCarty and Gannon did most of the work as their team pounded out 312 of its 456 yards on the ground. After Esposito kept the drive alive with a third-down pass to wideout Daniel Bocanegra, McCarty pushed his way over right guard on a 3-yard TD run. McCarty, who had 33 carries, then capped the program’s second-highest single-game rushing total on a dazzling 77-yard scamper with 7:25 remaining.

“In the second half we came to play,” said UAlbany coach Bob Ford, whose squad went unbeaten for the second consecutive year against conference opponents. “I had no clue that we could shut them down. They have too much speed on the perimeter and have put up pinball numbers. Our defense stepped to the plate. They have been consistent and great at shutting down the run.”

UAlbany’s defense forced four turnovers and held its sixth consecutive opponent under 300 total yards as Jacksonville managed just 228, including 84 rushing. The Great Danes, who posted their eighth consecutive win, became the first NEC team to win the Gridiron Classic, as PFL champions San Diego and Dayton has won the previous two contests, respectively.

“As a whole unit, I think these three weeks (since our last game) we practiced harder than we ever practiced before,” explained McCarty, who was voted the Gridiron Classic MVP. “We were really afraid of their speed, but I think the cold took away their quickness. The offensive line deserved the MVP trophy. They are the ones that gave me all of the offensive numbers.”

Jacksonville’s McGregor, the PFL’s top offensive freshman, completed just 10 of 25 pass attempts for 113 yards and was sacked three times. Rudell Small rushed for 46 yards on 16 carries on a grass field that froze overnight and stayed hard with temperatures hovering around 34 degrees during the game. The Dolphins reached the postseason by rallying to beat Dayton in winning their first-ever league championship two weeks ago.

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