Mistakes plague Football in loss to Delaware
By Kyle Sherwood
Nov 11, 2014
The University at Albany Great Danes suffered a tough defeat at the hands of the Delaware Blue Hens (6-4, 4-2 CAA), losing 31-28 on Saturday at Bob Ford Field. The Great Danes have lost their last two games, dropping down to 6-4 on the season and 2-4 in CAA play.
With less than a minute left in the game, senior quarterback Will Fiacchi connected with true freshman receiver Josh Gontarek for a 19-yard touchdown pass to bring the score to within three points. UAlbany attempted an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, which appeared to be recovered by UAlbany defender Michael Nicastro. However, the referees called an illegal block on Nicastro that negated the recovery. Delaware then managed to hold on to the ball, barely squeaking by UAlbany for the victory.
The Blue Hens dominated the rushing game with 234 yards on the ground. Jalen Randolph rushed for 107 yards on 19 attempts and a touchdown, marking his fourth career 100-yard game. Wes Hills added 79 yards on 12 attempts and a touchdown. Omar Osbourne of the Great Danes was limited to 49 yards on 11 attempts and no touchdowns.
UAlbany was forced to rely on its passing game, which didn’t disappoint. Fiacchi led the offense, going 22-35 for 335 yards and four touchdowns. Gontarek was Fiacchi’s main target, catching six passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns. Tight end Brian Parker caught the longest pass of the day, a 44-yard pass, and totaled six receptions. Cole King and Nic Ketter hauled in the other two touchdown passes from Fiacchi.
Linebacker Christian Dorsey, a redshirt senior, led the Great Danes defense with a career-high 18 tackles (three solo). Freshman cornerback Jamal Robinson also had a career-high 10 tackles (five solo). Redshirt sophomore Christian Harris totaled eight tackles (three solo), including a sack resulting in a 19-yard loss.
Neither team could get much started early in the game. The first quarter ended with no score. Delaware struck first on a 1-yard run by Randolph with 11:33 remaining in the second quarter. UAlbany responded quickly with a strong drive down the field, topped off by a 16-yard touchdown pass from Fiacchi to King with 9:57 on the clock. Patrick Toole kicked the extra point, tying the game at 7-7.
The Danes defense, with Harris recording a big sack on third down, forced the Blue Hens to punt on their next drive. With momentum on their side, UAlbany quickly drove down the field on four plays. Fiacchi found Ketter for a big 38-yard touchdown on a tight end wheel route with 4:32 left in the half. Toole kicked the extra point and the Great Danes took a 14-7 lead into halftime.
Delaware had the first possession of the second half and methodically drove down the UAlbany red zone. UAlbany had a big stop on third-and-goal, which brought out the Delaware field goal team on fourth down. Delaware holder Eric Enderson kept the ball on a planned fake field goal and ran for the right pylon, scoring a huge touchdown and tying the game at 14.
“The fake field goal was all on me,” UAlbany head coach Greg Gattuso said. “It was a bad decision on my part. I accept responsibility and ultimately it was the difference in the game.”
The Great Danes struggled on their next drive and were forced to punt. However, the snap sailed over the head of punter Jon Martin, giving Blue Hens great field position. They responded by taking the lead for good on a 16-yard pass from quarterback Todd Hurley to wide receiver Jarel Harrison. Garret Greenway kicked the extra point, making the game 21-14 in favor of the visitors.
Another special teams gaffe gave Delaware good field position on the UAlbany 47-yard line. They methodically drove the ball down the field and increased their lead to 28-14 with 5:10 left in the third quarter on a 4-yard rush by Hills.
The UAlbany offense wasn’t ready to give up yet. Fiacchi passed the ball down the field and hit Gontarek for a 29-yard pass to cut the lead in half with a touchdown, bringing the score to 28-21 with 14:55 left to play in the game.
Both defenses battled to keep the offenses from scoring for most of the fourth quarter. Delaware, once again, had the chance to start a drive from the Albany side of the field and they responded with a field goal to make the game 31-21.
The Delaware defense played prevent defense on the ensuing drive, giving Fiacchi some room to pass the ball. He responded by getting the ball down the field and Gontarek made an athletic 19-yard touchdown grab to make the game 31-28 with 33 seconds left.
The comeback was halted by an illegal blocking penalty on the Danes onside kick. UAlbany’s mistakes in the third quarter proved too great to overcome. Delaware held on to win the game 31-28.
“We’re battling. We’re going to continue to battle. That’s who we are,” Gattuso said. “I’m proud of these guys the way they easily could have rolled it up, but didn’t.
The Great Danes go on the road to face CAA foe Villanova next Saturday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. in their final road game of the season. UAlbany concludes it’s season against rival Stony Brook on Nov. 22 at 3:30 p.m. at Bob Ford Field.
Click here for photos from Delaware’s win over UAlbany.