SOMERSET, N.J. - Leading the University at Albany to a 40-23 victory over Colgate in the season-opening clash, seniors Drew Smith and Ocieka Bakou have garnered the Northeast Conference's Offensive Player of the Week and Special Teams Player of the Week honors, respectively.
Smith led UAlbany with a career-high 174 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. The performance marked Smith's 19th 100-plus yard rushing game and moved the Schenectady, N.Y. native up two spots in the career rushing ladder, now ranking sixth in program history with 2,369 yards. In addition, Smith had his third-best career all-purpose running game, totaling 195 yards, which puts him just 26-yards away from moving into third place all-time at UAlbany with 3,536 career all-purpose yards.
On the other side of the ball, Bakou served as the Great Danes' game-changer Saturday night, blocking two punts for nine consecutive points on a safety and touchdown. Trailing, 10-7, Bakou's first blocked punt ricocheted into the end zone, forcing Colgate to push the ball out the back to settle for a safety. Like déjà vu, Bakou got a mitt on Colgate's next punt attempt from the 35-yard line, allowing teammate Kyle Jordan to pick it up at the 19-yard line and run it back to give the Danes' a 16-10 advantage after the extra point, as well as the lead for good with 3:01 minutes left in the first half. Bakou's performance marked a career-best. He also single-handedly matched UAlbany's 2011 team kick block total.
The defending NEC champions were the only team in the conference to put a mark in the win column for Week 1. UAlbany (1-0) will hit the road for three consecutive away games, taking on Robert Morris Saturday at noon in Moon Township, Pa.