Bill Ziskin

Football Hoists Golden Apple Trophy With 13-6 Triumph Over Stony Brook

UAlbany Sports Information   11-19-2016
ALBANY, N.Y. -- With a 13-6 victory over rival Stony Brook, the University at Albany football team claimed the Golden Apple Trophy in the fourth annual Empire Clash Saturday at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium. With the win, the Great Danes finished the 2016 regular season with a 7-4 overall record and 4-4 mark in the CAA, while Stony Brook fell to 5-6 on the season and 4-4 in conference play.

STAT LEADERS
• Redshirt sophomore kicker Ethan Stark recorded a career-best 50-yard field goal -- the third longest in program history -- as well as a 21-yard field goal, accounting for six of UAlbany’s 13 points in the victory.
• Defensively, redshirt senior cornerback Rayshan Clark tied UAlbany’s DI single-game record with two interceptions in addition to recovering a fumble two yards for a touchdown. It marked Clark’s third touchdown of the season, and the Great Danes’ sixth defensive touchdown on the year.
• Senior linebackers Michael Nicastro and Abner Logan recorded 13 tackles and 10 tackles, respectively, to lead the Danes, while defensive end Malachi Hoskins added eight, including a sack, a forced fumble, and three QB hurries, putting heavy pressure on Stony Brook quarterback Jack Cassidy.
• Redshirt sophomore running back Kendall Rodgers Jr. carried the ball a career-high 30 times, accruing 55 rushing yards.
• In his second career start, redshirt freshman quarterback Will Brunson completed 10-of-22 passes for 137 passing yards. While Stony Brook recorded three interceptions, the Seawolves only managed three points off the turnovers.
• Redshirt senior punter Jon Martin had a career day, punting six times, averaging 53.0 yards per punt, including a career-long 81-yarder -- second-longest in program history. Martin pinned Stony Brook inside the 20 three times.

SCORING PLAYS
• After a scoreless first quarter, Stony Brook’s Tyrice Beverette picked off a pass and returned it 43 yards to UAlbany-5. The Danes’ defense held Stony Brook out of the end zone, forcing the Seawolves to settle for a field goal. With 5:01 remaining in the second quarter, kicker Przemyslaw Popek hit a 22-yarder, giving Stony Brook a 3-0 lead.
• However, UAlbany tied it up on Stark’s 50-yard field goal with 1:18 left in the half, capping a 10-play, 53-yard drive.
• UAlbany took the lead for good on its first drive of the third quarter on Stark’s 21-yard field goal.
•  After Martin’s 63-yard punt pinned the Seawolves on the 5-yard line, Clark picked up Stony Brook’s fumbled snap on the first play of the drive and returned it two yards for a touchdown. With Stark’s point-after, UAlbany held a 13-3 advantage with 4:46 remaining in the third quarter.
• Clark then went on to foil the Seawolves twice with a pair of interceptions. Stony Brook managed a 24-yard field goal with 3:08 left in the game, cutting the margin to seven, 13-6. However, UAlbany’s defense held the Seawolves off the rest of the way, concluding with freshman Rocco Marucci’s game-ending interception. 

QUOTES
Coach Gattuso on the rivalry win: “We just wanted to win the game. It’s nice when you have a rivalry game like that. They had fun with the apple trophy and that’s what it’s for, but ultimately our job is to win a game. And we found a way to win and that’s the most important thing. Hopefully it gives us a chance at getting into the playoffs and continuing to play.”

Coach Gattuso on UAlbany’s defense:
“I thought they were amazing. With the exception of the first drive, it was a little hairy, but we buckled down. They got us with that one pass play -- a mistake -- but other than that, I thought they were lights out. You’ve got to take your hat off to our defense. They were special today and that’s why we won the game.”


Coach Gattuso on playoff possibilities
: “I don’t see why we would not be a great opportunity. We have a BCS win, we beat [UNH] a ranked team on their field who’s in consideration for the playoffs, and we beat Saint Francis who’s in the playoffs. I think our 7-4 record is as good or better than anybody in the country, and I think we deserve to get in. Pretty simple.”


Rayshan Clark on his defensive performance
: “It’s definitely a good way to go out. I just wanted to give my teammates my all. I wanted to leave it all out on the field because we don’t know if this is our last game or not.”


UALBANY’S WIN…

- Improved UAlbany’s record to 7-4 overall.
- Improved UAlbany’s CAA record to 4-4.
- Improved UAlbany’s series record to 11-7 against Stony Brook.
- Gave UAlbany its first claiming of the Golden Apple Trophy.
- Improved UAlbany’s all-time varsity record to 273-187.
- Improved Coach Gattuso’s career record to 114-49.
- Improved Coach Gattuso’s record at UAlbany to 17-17.

FCS SELECTION SHOW
The 2016 FCS Football Championship Show will air Sunday, Nov. 20 at 11 a.m. on ESPNU. UAlbany hopes to hear its name called and earn the program’s second NCAA Division I FCS playoff berth. UAlbany last competed in the FCS playoffs in 2011 when the Great Danes met Stony Brook in the first round.

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