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UNEVEN DANES FALL TO MAINE, 20-16

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The University at Albany Great Danes fell in their CAA contest against the University of Maine Black Bears, 20-16. Albany struggled all afternoon, but remained in the game on the back of their tremendous defense.

Albany entered the game looking to rebound after a heart-breaking 36-30 triple overtime loss to Richmond, which snapped Albany’s perfect start to the season. Instead, they were unable to complete a fourth quarter comeback, and lost their second consecutive game.

The game started well for the Great Danes, as sophomore Mason Gray intercepted Dan Collins’ pass on Maine’s first drive of the game, which set up Ethan Stark’s 27-yard field goal, which gave Albany an early 3-0 lead. It was to be UAlbany’s only lead of the game. On Maine’s next possession, the Black Bears drove 86 yards down the field, and Collins finished the drive with a 49-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Micah Wright, giving Maine a 7-3 advantage. After the Maine touchdown, Albany gained a quick first down as Neven Sussman completed a 22-yard pass to Jordan Crockett into Maine territory. Maine’s defense tightened, limiting Albany to just 4 yards on their next three plays, and forced a punt.

After two straight drives for both teams that yielded no points, Maine received the ball back at the Albany 47, with just over 10 minutes to go before halftime. The Black Bears proceeded to march down the field in just three plays, and Dan Collins threw his second touchdown pass of the afternoon, this one a 40-yard pass to Earnest Edwards. Maine decided to go for two and failed, as the score now stood at 13-3. Albany once again went three and out, giving Maine an opportunity to extend their lead. After a 5-yard run by Darian Davis-Ray on first down, center Max Andrews sent a shotgun snap flying over Collins’ head and through the endzone for a safety, cutting Maine’s lead to 13-5. After the free kick, Albany drove 32 yards in 9 plays, and Ethan Stark connected on his second field goal of the game, this one a 39-yarder, and Albany was able to cut the deficit to just 13-8. On Ethan Stark’s kickoff, Earnest Edwards returned the ball 83 yards to the Albany 14. The Great Danes defense dug in, and held Maine to a field goal attempt, which Derek Deoul missed. With time winding down in the first half, Sussman threw an interception on the second play after the missed field goal, once again giving Maine great field position. This time, Maine turned the ball over on downs, and the score remained 13-8 going into halftime.

The Danes received the opening kickoff of the second half, and put together an impressive drive, highlighted by Sussman’s 44-yard completion to Zee Roberson, quickly putting Albany in scoring position. On 4th and 1 from the Maine 12, Ethan Stark’s field goal was blocked by Sterling Sheffield, stifling the hopes of the Danes. Collins once again led the Black Bears down the field, finding Jordan Dunn downfield for a 51-yard touchdown, giving Maine a 20-8 lead early in the third quarter. Both teams traded punts on their next two possessions.

After forcing a second consecutive punt, Albany got the ball at their own 32, with just over 12 minutes left in the game. Sussman orchestrated a terrific 4 play, 68-yard drive, highlighted by his 45-yard pass to Anthony Manzo-Lewis to open the drive, and finished on a 1-yard run by Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks. On the 2-point conversion, Sussman found Jordan Crockett in the endzone, making it a 20-16 game.

On their next drive, after driving into Albany territory quickly, Maine running back Josh Mack was stripped by Daesean Timmons, and Abner Logan recovered, giving the Danes hope that they could rally for a victory. But a quick three and out, followed by a turnover on downs quickly crushed all hope that was left, and Maine came out victorious, 20-16.

The Albany offense gained 335 yards, despite having just one player, Neven Sussman, accumulate 100 all-purpose yards. Sussman was 10/27 on the afternoon, throwing for 187 yards and 1 interception, and also lead the Danes in rushing yards, totaling 75 on 12 carries. The Black Bears defense held Ibitokun-Hanks to just 41 yards and 1 touchdown on 16 carries, the third consecutive game he has been held under 100 yards. Michael Nicastro and Josh Wynn paced the defense with 11 tackles each.

Albany (4-2, 1-2 CAA) will travel to Villanova next Saturday for another CAA showdown.

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