ALBANY, N.Y. - It's only Week 5, but it's been an eventful fall so far for the University at Albany football team. In Week 1, the Great Danes kicked off the program's 40th varsity season with a commanding victory over Colgate for the first time in history. Week 2 featured a massive win against conference foe Robert Morris. In game three, the Danes went head-to-head with one of the Top-5 teams in the country, falling by just a touchdown at Youngstown State. And in Week 4, UAlbany overcame No. 23 Maine on the road, marking the first win over a ranked opponent since 2009. Looking ahead to game five, the Great Danes gun to make it just as momentous with their 250th win as a varsity program. The Great Danes play host to Monmouth University of the Northeast Conference Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at University Field.
CATCH THE ACTION
Cheer from the Stands: In conjunction with NCAA Take a Kid to the Game Program, ALL kids 12 and under are FREE on Saturday. Click here for ticket information.
Watch at Home:Saturday's action will be televised LIVE on Time Warner Cable in the Capital Region.
In addition, it will be video streamed live on Dane Zone. Rodger Wyland and Zach Bye will have the call.
Listen: The game can be heard in Albany on WCDB-FM (90.9 FM) or anywhere online at wcdbfm.com. To listen on your mobile device, download the TuneIn app and search for WCDB.
Tweet: Follow @UAlbanySports on Twitter for live updates, photos and highlights.
Live Stats: Live stats can be found here. A full recap and box score will be available at the conclusion of the game at UAlbanySports.com.
Game Notes: An in-depth look at the weekend's matchup.
THE UALBANY-MONMOUTH ALL-TIME SERIES
UAlbany and Monmouth meet for the 15th time in program history Saturday. The Great Danes own a 10-4 advantage in the all-time series, winning the last five consecutive clashes. Besides a four-year span from 2003-06 when the Hawks were triumphant, UAlbany has won all the other contests dating back to the first meeting in 1998. Seven of the 14 contests have been decided by more than 10 points, with the Great Danes winning six of them. Conversely, Monmouth has won three of the four meetings with a margin of three or less. Last year, UAlbany topped the Hawks, 41-24, in New Jersey, while the last time these two squads battled on University Field, the Great Danes won, 28-19, in 2010.
UALBANY QUICK HITS
• UAlbany kicked off its 40th season of varsity football vs. Colgate on Sept 1. The 40-23 win, improved the Great Danes' record to 5-9 in season-openers in the Division I FCS era.
- UAlbany (3-1, 1-0) is one of four teams with an unblemished conference record this season, along with Monmouth (3-1, 2-0), Duquesne (3-1, 1-0), and Saint Francis (2-2, 1-0).
- UAlbany comes off a 30-20 win at No. 23 Maine.
- With the 35-10 win at Robert Morris, UAlbany improved its record to 8-6 against the Colonials all-time. The Great Danes are now 11-3 in Northeast Conference openers, and 7-1 in those that come on the road.
- UAlbany was chosen to repeat as Northeast Conference Champions, as announced by the NEC office.
- Six Great Danes were placed on the All-NEC Preseason Team.
- Last season, the Great Danes received their first NCAA FCS Playoff berth and advanced to the NCAAs for the first time since 1977.
- UAlbany finished 2011 ranked 23rd in the FCS Coaches Poll and was just off the TSN's Top-25, receiving votes.
- The Great Danes received votes in both The Sports Network Top-25 and 2012 FCS Coaches Poll for preseason, Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and Week 4.
- UAlbany has won or shared five Northeast Conference championships (2002, 2003, 2007, 2008 & 2011).
- In 2011, the Great Danes reached the eight-win plateau for the fourth time as a NCAA Division I FCS program.
- The Great Danes have registered six consecutive winning seasons for the first time in the program's history (2006-11) and look for their seventh in 2012.
- Bob Ford is fourth among the FCS all-time leaders in career victories and is first among active NCAA Division I FCS coaches with 258 career victories.
- Bob Ford recorded his 250th win as a college head coach on Oct. 8, 2011. He will be going for his 250th win as UAlbany's head coach Saturday.
- Ford is in his 40th varsity season as head coach at UAlbany with a 249-158 record.
- The National Football League's New York Giants have made the UAlbany campus its summer training camp home since 1996.
- The Danes are 20-34 in non-conference action as a NCAA Division I FCS program.
- UAlbany has an 8-14 record in FCS games decided by three points or less.
SCOUTING THE GREAT DANES
2012 Record: 3-1, 1-0 NEC
2011 Record: 8-4, 7-1 NEC
NEC Preseason Poll: 1stHead Coach: Bob Ford (40th season at UAlbany/43rd overall) (249-158-0 / 258-179-1 / 72-23 NEC)
THE COACH: Bob Ford is in his 40th season at the helm, coming off his fifth Northeast Conference title in 2011 and fourth NEC Coach of the Year Award. He ranks first among all active NCAA Division I FCS coaches with 258 career victories and is also fourth among the FCS all-time leaders in career victories.
LAST TIME OUT: UAlbany comes off a 30-20 road win over No. 23 Maine, marking the Great Danes' first victory over a ranked opponent since Sept. 19, 2009 when they also beat Maine (ranked 20th), 20-16. Kicker Sean Kenny made a name for himself, tying the program record with three made field goals in the contest, representing the first nine points of the game. Senior tailback Drew Smith led the offense with 114 rushing yards on 18 carries, 144 all-purpose yards, and two touchdowns, while Kevin Chillis rushed twice for 88 yards total and accumulated 158 all-purpose yards. Quarterback Will Fiacchi completed 13-of-29 pass attempts for a total of 132 yards. Defensively, Dave Plungas led the squad with nine tackles, while Olatunji Idowu and Jon Morgan each brought down eight.
THE SEASON SO FAR: The Great Danes are off to their best start since the 2006 season, entering Week 5 with a 3-1 record for the third time in program history. In Week 1, UAlbany overcame Colgate handily, 40-23, as Drew Smith (174) and Omar Osbourne (113) both rushed for over 100 yards, and the Ocieka Bakou blocked two punts that resulted in a safety and a touchdown. After opening the season at home for the first time since 2005, UAlbany hit the road for three consecutive away games, traveling over 400 miles for each of them. First, the Great Danes overcame Robert Morris, 35-10, capturing their first Northeast Conference victory of the season. Sophomore quarterback Will Fiacchi had a breakout game along with wide receiver Cole King. Fiacchi finished 17-for-21, throwing 208 yards, rushing 35, and tallied four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) in the win. All three passing touchdowns were to King who totaled 124 receiving yards on five catches. In Week 3, the Great Danes headed west again to Youngstown, Ohio, taking on the No. 5 Penguins. Despite a hard fought battle, the hosts held off UAlbany, 31-24, handing the Great Danes their only loss of the season. The Great Danes were neck-and-neck with Youngstown State until the Guins opened up a two-score lead with 2:48 remaining in the fourth quarter. UAlbany held an early 7-0 lead over Youngstown in a game that was tied on three separate occasions, but a YSU field goal with 2:15 left in the third quarter gave the Penguins the lead for good. Fiacchi and King both had spectacular games again, as Fiacchi accumulated 228 passing yards (23-35-0), and King hauled in a touchdown and seven catches for 115 receiving yards.
PROGRAM HISTORY: UAlbany football started at the club level in 1970, before moving to Division III and varsity status three years later. The Great Danes competed at the Division II level from 1995-98, and won two Eastern Football Conference titles in that period. Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) play arrived in 1999 with membership in the Northeast Conference. UAlbany has won five NEC titles.
SCOUTING THE HAWKS
2012 Record: 3-1, 2-0 NEC
2011 Record: 5-6 overall, 4-4 NEC (T-4th)
NEC Preseason Poll: 5th
Head Coach: Kevin Callahan (20th season at Monmouth, 112-87 / 67-42 NEC)
THE COACH: The only head coach in the history of football at Monmouth, Kevin Callahan has developed a winning tradition in West Long Branch. Beginning his 20th season at the helm of the Hawks, Callahan has amassed a 112-87 record while his teams have captured Northeast Conference titles in five of the 15 seasons the league has sponsored football. Along the way, Monmouth has been ranked among the top 20 in total offense on two occasions and in total defense five times. Callahan served as the President of the FCS Football Coaches Committee in 2007-08. He has been a member of the committee since 2002. Under his watch, three former Hawks have earned spots on NFL rosters, including All-Pro wide receiver Miles Austin of the Dallas Cowboys.
LAST TIME OUT: After falling to Lehigh, 27-17, in Week 1, the Hawks have rallied to win their last three contests, earning wins over Rhode Island (41-6), NEC foe Wagner (38-17), and most recently Sacred Heard (27-14). Fifth-year senior quarterback Kyle Frazier completed 32-of-43 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns against the Pioneers, as Lamar Davenport hauled in nine receptions for 105 yards in the win. In addition, Tristan Roberts had six catches for 71 yards and two touchdowns.
KENNY, MCCLARY EARN NEC HONORS FOR WEEK 4
Piloting the University at Albany football team to a 30-20 win over the 23rd nationally ranked University of Maine Black Bears, senior kicker Sean Kenny and freshman Jojo McClary captured Northeast Conference Special Teams Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week honors, respectively. Kenny, a native of Ghent, N.Y., converted on all three of his field goal attempts and went 3-for-3 on extra-point tries in UAlbany's fifth win in program history over a ranked opponent, and first since 2009. The senior placekicker was responsible for the game's first nine points, staking the Great Danes to a 9-0 halftime lead that they would not relinquish. Following a scoreless first quarter, Kenny put UAlbany on the board by nailing a 44-yard field goal with 10:45 remaining before the break. Kenny kicked a 39-yarder to double the Danes' lead and added his third field goal, from 25 yards out, on the last play of the first half. The three field goals tied UAlbany's single-game record. McClary made contributions on both defense and special teams for the fourth consecutive week. The rookie cornerback totaled four tackles and logged a fumble recovery in UAlbany's road victory. McClary's most-impactful plays against the CAA opponent came on kick coverage. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla. native made a tackle on the game's opening kickoff, stopping the Maine returner two yards short of the 20-yard line. With Albany nursing a 23-13 lead and punting away to Maine early on in the fourth quarter, McClary snatched the ball right back. The Black Bears' Mauri McDonald fumbled the punt at his own 17-yard line and McClary was there to fall on it for the Great Danes.
SMITH OFF AND RUNNING
UAlbany tailback Drew Smith accounted for 100-plus all-purpose yards for 21st time in his career last Saturday night in the Great Danes' 30-20 win over No. 23 Maine. Smith led the offense with 114 rushing yards on 18 carries, 144 all-purpose yards, and two touchdowns. The senior currently ranks sixth all-time at UAlbany for rushing yards (2,587 yards), needing just 25 more yards to move into fifth and 93 more to move into fourth. In addition, Smith is climbing the all-purpose yards ladder. Totaling 491 all-purpose yards through the first four games, Smith ranks second all-time with 3,932 all-purpose yards in his career. He is 1,044 yards away from David McCarty's record (4,976).
UAlbany's Career All-Purpose Yards Leaders
1. David McCarty (2006-09), 4,976
2. Drew Smith (2008- ), 3,932
3. Gary Jones (2002-03), 3,639
4. Greg Garrett (1996-99), 3,562
5. Dan Gmelin (1994-97), 3,185
MORGAN MOVES INTO 18TH
Senior inside linebacker Jon Morgan led the UAlbany defense that held the No. 23 Maine Black Bears to just 135 rushing yards on 39 attempts. Morgan totaled eight tackles in the victory in addition to blocking a 31-yard field goal that prevented Maine from taking the lead in the first half. Now with a team-best 31 tackles this season, Morgan is tied for 18th all-time at UAlbany with 224 career tackles.
Monmouth has a winning all-time record against all Northeast Conference members except two and Albany is one of those two teams. The series has tilted in Albany's favor in recent years. After winning five of the first nine match-ups with Monmouth, Albany has reeled off five wins in a row. Monmouth, however, is on a roll with away games recently, winning six of their last seven road trips.
HALL OF FAME WEEKEND
Three former players, a former coach and the 1993-94 men's basketball team will be inducted into the University at Albany Hall of Fame on Friday, September 28 at the 29th Annual HOF Dinner and Induction Ceremony. The induction ceremony will take place on Hall of Fame Weekend, which also includes field hockey hosting Boston University at 3 p.m. On Saturday, football hosts Monmouth at 1 p.m. and following that the men's soccer team will be hosting Stony Brook at 5 p.m. Finally on Sunday, field hockey will host Louisville at 1 p.m. and volleyball will be on the road playing Stony Brook at 1 p.m. The new inductees and their sports: Amy Di Micco '01, field hockey & lacrosse; Andee Lindren '04, softball; Ted Hotaling '95, basketball; and head coach Joe DeMeo '95, wrestling. With this year's class, there are 136 former athletes, coaches and administrators and one team who have been inducted into the University at Albany's Athletic Hall of Fame
COACH TO CURE MD
For the fifth year in a row, college football coaches nationwide will join together in support of the Coach To Cure MD program, which will be held during games of Saturday, September 29, 2012. The rapidly growing annual effort has raised more than a million dollars to battle Duchenne (doo-shin) muscular dystrophy. On Sept. 29, American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) members will wear a Coach To Cure MD logo patch on the sidelines and college football fans will be asked to donate to research projects supported by Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD). Football fans can donate to Duchenne muscular research by either going online to www.CoachtoCureMD.org or by texting the word CURE to 90999 (a $5 donation will automatically be added to your next phone bill). Last year, more than 10,000 college coaches at 505 different institutions participated in Coach To Cure MD events. The four-year fundraising total is just over $1 million.
PREVIEW OF 2013 CAA
The University at Albany's Vice President Athletic Administration and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Lee McElroy and the commissioner of the Colonial Athletic Association Tom Yeager formally announced that the Great Dane football program will be joining the CAA for the 2013 season on Wednesday, August 8. UAlbany and New York state rival Stony Brook will join current CAA members Maine, New Hampshire, James Madison, Delaware, Richmond, William & Mary, Villanova, Rhode Island and Towson beginning next season. Last Saturday's meeting against the Black Bears gave fans a taste of UAlbany's future. The Great Danes have had success over CAA members, having tallied a 7-5 all-time record. The Danes have previously faced Delaware (1-1 record), Maine (4-2), Towson (2-1) and New Hampshire (0-1). UAlbany will look to expand on its rivalry against Stony Brook, having played the Seawolves 15 times and tallying a record of 10-5 all-time.
First-year starting quarterback Will Fiacchi has had an impressive start to the season, leading the Great Danes to their best start since 2006 (3-1). Against No. 5 Youngstown State, Fiacchi totaled a career-high 228 yards passing, completing 23-of-35 pass attempts, while throwing two touchdowns. In the first half, the Marcellus, N.Y. native was virtually perfect completing 14-of-15 with a throw-away. Fiacchi also recorded his longest completion of his career, a 44-yard touchdown toss to Cole King on a flea-flicker play. Heading into Week 5, Fiacchi ranks third in the NEC for pass efficiency (128.39),
FIACCHI FILLING BIG SHOES
Albany marched to a share of the 2011 Northeast Conference crown thanks to a record season by fifth-year senior quarterback Dan Di Lella. Now that the first team all-NEC passer has exhausted his eligibility, the starting quarterback responsibilities have been given to sophomore Will Fiacchi. So far, so good for the 6-foot-3 Fiacchi. Through Week 4, Albany's signal caller leads is 69-of-110 passing over four games this season, three of which are victories. He has totaled 711 passing yards and five touchdowns, while throwing just two interceptions.
For the third time in FCS program history, UAlbany started the season 2-0, earning wins over Colgate and Robert Morris. The last time the Great Danes started 2-0 was in 2001 when they burst out to a 5-0 mark to begin the year. UAlbany is off to its best start since 2006, representing the third time the Danes have a 3-1 record going into Week 5.
Sophomore wide receiver Cole King has been quarterback Will Fiacchi's go-to guy this fall. At Youngstown, King made seven catches, including a 44-yard touchdown, and totaled 115 receiving yards on the day. The week prior, Fiacchi threw three touchdown passes in the Great Danes' 35-10 NEC victory over Robert Morris and all three went to King. The dynamic pass-catcher hauled in scoring strikes of 40, 9, and 41 yards. King totaled 124 yards on five receptions in what was a breakout performance for the sophomore who showed flashes of brilliance as a rookie in 2011. King currently ranks third in the NEC, averaging 70.75 receiving yards per game.
KIRCHNER NEARS RECEPTIONS RECORD
Senior wide receiver Ryan Kirchner made three catches at No. 23 Maine and moved into second place on the program's all-time receptions (137) list as a result. He is 10 off Tim Bush's record of 147. In his junior year, Kirchner became the fourth player in school history to surpass 100 career receptions on Nov. 12, 2011. He set the program's FCS single-game record with three touchdown catches vs. Sacred Heart on Nov. 19, and also caught 12 passes against Stony Brook (11/26) to set UAlbany's Division I single-game record. With 56 receptions, he had the fourth-highest single-season total in program history. So far this season, Kirchner has recorded 15 catches.
UAlbany's Career Receptions Leaders
1. Tim Bush (2007-09), 147
2. Ryan Kirchner (2009- ), 137
3. Dan Gmelin (1994-97), 136
4. Chris Phillis (1999-01), 124
5. Irani DeAraujo (2004-07), 95
KING CATCHES KIRCHNER IN TD GRABS
Cole King became the fifth UAlbany player to ever record three receiving touchdowns in a single game when he did so at Robert Morris (9/8). Teammate Ryan Kirchner is the only other one in the FCS era to do so when he hauled in three against Sacred Heart on Nov. 19, 2011.
DANES' DEFENSE STRONG IN NEC OPENER
UAlbany's relentless pursuit of the quarterback resulted in five sacks and two interceptions for its defense at Robert Morris on Sept. 8. The Great Danes held RMU to 10 points and 208 yards of total offense in what was the Northeast Conference opener for both sides. Robert Morris quarterback Matt Layman went 12-for-25 passing for 121 yards against the defending NEC champion Danes and had to withstand pressure almost all afternoon. Defensive lineman Michael Smith sacked Layman for a 13-yard loss, the largest of the day, on a 3rd-and-7 play during the Colonials' first possession of the fourth quarter. Cornerback Randall Exantus, who finished with four tackles and a pass break-up, joined in on the sack attack as well as he dropped Layman for an 11-yard loss late in the first half.
The Great Danes' top-ranked offense in the NEC has scored 24 or more points in 17 of the last 19 games, owning a 14-5 record in that span.
The Great Danes have won 11 of their last 14 games and 11 of their last 13 regular season contests.
UP NEXT: The Great Danes alternate home and away contests for the remainder of the season, heading to Bryant University next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m. UAlbany trails the all-time series, 2-1, against the Bulldogs.
UPCOMING UALBANY PROMOTIONS
Oct 13 vs. Saint Francis - Homecoming
Nov. 3 vs. Wagner - CDPHP T-Shirt Day
Nov 17 vs. Central Connecticut - Pop Warner, Military Appreciation Day, Wounded Warriors