Fiacchi’s feet lead football over Colgate
By Kyle Sherwood
The University at Albany Great Danes edged past the Colgate Raiders (4-4, 2-0 Patriot League) on their final drive Saturday night, winning 24-17 to improve their record to 6-2 on the season.
UAlbany (6-2, 2-2 CAA) quarterback Will Fiacchi led the team down the field with time ticking down in the fourth quarter to take the lead. With the ball on the Colgate two yard line, Fiacchi faked a handoff up the middle to running back Omar Osbourne, carried it to the outside and into the end zone himself with 16 seconds left in the game to secure the victory.
The game winning play was set up by a clutch 26-yard scramble by Fiacchi that galvanized the crowd of 4,952 at Bob Ford Field. Excellent pass blocking by the Danes offensive line gave Fiacchi the opportunity to take advantage of the man-to-man defense played by the Raiders. “They vacated everybody on the [left] side of the field,” Fiacchi said. “I saw the open green and I just took off.”
Fiacchi became the first quarterback in UAlbany’s Divison I FCS era to surpass 6,000 passing yards in his career. He now has 6,134 passing yards with four games remaining. Fiacchi finished the game 22-32 with 231 yards and a touchdown in the air.
Fiacchi led the Great Danes to victory with his feet against Colgate, scoring two touchdowns on the ground. Coach Greg Gattuso was not surprised by this statistic. “He’s a very capable runner; we just don’t want to run him a lot,” he said.
UAlbany won the opening coin toss and chose to receive the ball to start the game. The Great Danes methodically moved the ball down the field and ate up 8:17 on the clock on their opening drive. However, the offense stalled in the red zone and had to settle for a field goal. Patrick Toole kicked a 32-yard field goal to put UAlbany up 3-0 before the Raiders even got a chance on offense.
UAlbany was poised to improve their lead at the beginning of the second quarter. The Danes defense forced a Raiders turnover on downs at the UAlbany 28-yard line with 3:29 left in the first quarter and the offense responded with a forceful drive down the field. Fiacchi pounded the ball into the end zone on a 1-yard sneak early in the second quarter, the first of his two rushing touchdowns, giving UAlbany a 10-0 lead.
The Great Danes struggled to keep the lead going into half time. The Raiders moved the ball down the field with ease to bring the score to 10-7 with 5:31 left in the second quarter.
“It’s a difficult offense,” head coach Greg Gattuso said of the Raiders. “We’ve got some new guys out there and some injuries, so there were some holes. I think the turnovers made it closer than it had to be.”
Fiacchi threw interceptions on the two final plays of the first half for UAlbany. Colgate managed to tie the game at 10 going into halftime.
The Danes defense came out strong in the second half. They managed to stifle Colgate offensively, giving the offense a chance to get back on track. Fiacchi connected with Nic Ketter on a three yard touchdown pass to give UAlbany a 17-10 lead.
The Danes defensive line, led by nose guard Zach Troutman and defensive tackle Tim Gologrivov, put heavy pressure on the Colgate passing game. The duo combined for 3 sacks and constantly disrupted the flow of the Raider’s offense.
A lost fumble by Osbourne, UAlbany’s star running back, gave the Raiders great field position early in the 4th quarter. True freshman quarterback Bret Mooney and the Colgate offense tied the game at 17 on a 1-yard rush by running back John Wilkins.
The end of the game was dominated by the UAlbany offense, under the guidance of offensive coordinator Joe Bernard. Coach Bernard told Fiacchi to keep the ball if the Colgate defense crashed on Osbourne, as they did in the final play.
UAlbany will play only conference opponents for the remainder of the season. The Great Danes face New Hampshire on Nov. 1 on the road at 6 p.m.
Click here for highlights of UAlbany’s win over Colgate.