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Danes Lose Yet Another Heartbreaker

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ALBANY, N.Y. — The University at Albany football team’s playoff hopes are slim after a 12-10 defeat to the Maine Black Bears at the homecoming game on Saturday with a crowd of 8,919 at Casey Stadium.

The Danes have now lost their last three games in a row by a combined 11 points. UAlbany hasn’t been able to get in the win column since upsetting #6 Villanova on Sept. 23. This year has been the tail of two seasons. Right after that win it looked as if the sky was the limit for these Great Danes. Saturday’s loss put their playoff hopes in jeopardy if I didn’t eradicate them all together.

“It’s a shame,” said UAlbany head coach Greg Gattuso after the game. “We played three of these in a row and were we’d been right there to win it. We couldn’t pull it out and it was very frustrating.”

Will Brunson and company never got into a rhythm as the offense only accounted for a field goal in the game. The other points came off a fumble recovery for a touchdown when the Danes had the Black Bears back up on the 12-yard line.

From there Eli Mencer broke through the line and stripped the Maine ball carrier. Antoine White picked up the ball on the 5-yard line and pranced into the end zone.

That gave the Danes an early 7-0 lead and it looked as if they were going to give the just under 9,000 fans on hand a show. Unfortunately for UAlbany, that was about the only positive note for the game.

The Great Dane offense went only 1-12 on 3rd downs making it tough on their defense, who were on the field for more than half of the game. Quarterback Will Brunson had an abysmal first half only being able to muster 33 passing yards. 90 of his 163 passing yards came in the 4th quarter.

“We’ve got to be better,” said Brunson. “I’ve got to be better. There’s no question that our defense played great, but I have to play better.”

On UAlbany’s final drive Brunson hooked up with Donovan McDonald for two 41-yard reception setting the Danes up nicely to win the game. They got the ball all the way down to the Maine 13-yard line. It should have set up an easy field goal by Ethan Stark at the very least, but the Danes shot themselves in the foot. Brunson took an 8-yard sack on third down.

Then, UAlbany had a false start on a would-be Stark 39-yard field goal attempt, but instead they were pushed back and his kick went wide left.

The Danes racked up nine penalties for 70 yards and at times were their own worst enemy.

“Penalties were really bad. We were undisciplined and got penalties at time,” said Gattuso.

After the missed field goal Maine got the ball with just over four minutes to play. The Black Bears dialed up #34 Josh Mack who pounded the ball between the tackles and picked up just enough first downs to lay on the ball and run out the clock.

“We’ve played good teams we just need to get back on track,” said Gattuso.

The Danes need to now run the table if they have any hope at making the postseason. They will try to get back in the win column this Saturday as they play host to Rhode Island at Casey Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. So far the Rams are 1-6 on the season and Danes won their last meeting 35-7 last year at Rhode Island.

The Danes have four games left on their schedule including a game on the road at 25th-ranked Stony Brook and they host #18 New Hampshire for their season finale. If they somehow put together four wins in a row against those teams there still might be a chance that the committee puts them in the postseason.

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John C. Longton III is the sports editor of the Albany Student Press. He previously served as sports editor for Hudson Valley Community College's student newspaper, the Hudsonian. Longton also works for Townsquare Media, the Albany Patroons, and runs his own podcast weekly, Rated R Sports.

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