Football Looks To Stay NEC Perfect At Bryant Saturday
ALBANY, N.Y. - The University at Albany football team looks continue its dominating level of play this weekend and remain atop the Northeast Conference standings when the Great Danes travel to Smithfield, R.I. to take on the Bryant University Bulldogs. While Bryant (0-5, 0-3 NEC) has yet to win a game this season, UAlbany cannot overlook the host team, as Bryant was the squad that gave the Danes their lone NEC loss a year ago. Kickoff at Bulldog Stadium is set for 12:00 p.m. Saturday. The contest will be broadcast on the national scale as the NEC Game of the Week and can be seen live on Fox College Sports, ESPN3, Cox (RI) and Time Warner Cable (Albany).
CATCH THE ACTION
Cheer from the Stands: Give the Great Danes a hometown feel on the road. Click here for Bryant ticket information.
Watch at Home: Saturday's action will be televised LIVE on Fox College Sports, ESPN3, Cox (RI) and Time Warner Cable (Albany TW-3).
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. Rodger Wyland and Zach Bye will have the call.
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.
NEC Football Digest: A video preview of all the Week 6 NEC contests.
THE UALBANY-BRYANT ALL-TIME SERIES
UAlbany and Bryant meet for just the fourth time in history Saturday with the Bulldogs leading the all-time series 2-1. Bryant handed the Great Danes their only Northeast Conference loss of the season last year, as the Bulldogs won 31-17 at University Field on Nov. 5th. Bryant also won the last meeting in Rhode Island, 24-7, on Oct. 30, 2010. With the series dating back to 2009, when Bryant took the leap from DII to DI, UAlbany won the first clash at home, 20-17, on Oct. 17, 2009.
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 (4-1, 2-0) is one of two teams with an unblemished conference record this season, along with Duquesne (4-1, 2-0).
- UAlbany has won its last two contests, coming off a 30-20 win at No. 23 Maine and 55-24 victory over Monmouth.
- In their 14th and last season in the NEC, the Great Danes own a 73-23 record in league play.
- The Great Danes are off to their best start since the 2006 season when UAlbany began 5-0. The only other time UAlbany has had four wins heading into Week 6 in the FCS era was in 1999 (4-1).
- 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 and Weeks 1-5.
- 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 259 career victories.
- Bob Ford recorded his 250th win as a college head coach on Oct. 8, 2011 and his 250th win as UAlbany's head varsity coach Sept. 29, 2012.
- Ford is in his 40th varsity season as head coach at UAlbany with a 250-158 record.
- The National Football League's New York Giants have made the UAlbany campus its summer training camp home since 1996.
SCOUTING THE GREAT DANES
2012 Record: 4-1, 2-0 NEC
2011 Record: 8-4, 7-1 NEC (T-1st)
NEC Preseason Poll: 1st
Head Coach: Bob Ford (40th season at UAlbany/43rd overall) (250-158-0 / 259-179-1 / 73-23 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 259 career victories and is also fourth among the FCS all-time leaders in career victories.
LAST TIME OUT: The Great Danes come off a dominating performance against NEC foe Monmouth, overcoming the Hawks, 55-24, at University Field. After trailing 7-0 to start the game, a fake punt reverse resulting in Kevin Chillis' 77-yard TD dash turned the tides and UAlbany never looked back. Combining for 263 rushing yards, senior Drew Smith piloted the ground game with 109 rushing yards on 18 carries and three touchdowns in the victory. Chillis added two touchdowns and 196 all-purpose yards. Three Great Dane players (Smith, Chillis, Beauvais) single-handedly out-rushed the Monmouth team as a whole, as the Hawks managed just 53 rushing yards against the UAlbany defense. Quarterback Will Fiacchi recorded his third 200-plus yard passing game this season, as he completed 16-of-30 attempts for 248 yards and two touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Ryan Kirchner was the go-to man of the afternoon, hauling in five passes for 121 yards and a score. Defensively, not only did UAlbany halt the Hawks 'ground game, but also disrupted the passing game with three interceptions. Senior Jon Morgan led the team with seven tackles, including six solo, while also breaking up two passes. Chris Wilk brought down five, as Dean Mercuris, Jake Dwyer, and Tramaine Wilson recorded picks and ran for over 10 yards each.
THE SEASON SO FAR: The Great Danes are off to their best start since the 2006 season, entering Week 6 with a 4-1 record. 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. On the road for the third consecutive weekend, UAlbany overcame No. 23 Maine, 30-20, 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.
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 BULLDOGS
2012 Record: 0-5, 0-3 NEC
2011 Record: 7-4 overall, 5-3 NEC (3rd)
NEC Preseason Poll: 3rd
Head Coach: Marty Fine (9th season at Monmouth, 53-37 / 13-11 NEC)
THE COACH: The winningest coach in school history, Coach Marty Fine has transitioned the Bulldogs from the Division II to Division I level in his tenure. Entering his ninth season at the helm, Fine has led Bryant to 53-37 record, and to an improvement in the final standings every year since joining the Northeast Conference in 2009. An assistant coach at Iowa State for two seasons before becoming a Bulldog, Fine has more than 20 years of coaching experience under his belt and has coached at every level of organized football, including two successful head coaching positions at Sonoma State and U.S. Naval Academy Prep School. During his coaching career, Fine has served as coordinator for all three phases of coaching: offense, defense and special teams. He also had stints at Indiana University, Colgate, and Indiana State.
LAST TIME OUT: Entering Week 6, Bryant is still in search of its first win of the 2012 season. The Bulldogs come off a 31-21 loss at Wagner College. Tied 7-7 at the half, the Seahawks outscored the Bulldogs 24-14 in the second half. Trailing 14-10, Wagner turned an interception into seven points to take the lead and after forcing a three-and-out, made it a 10-point game with a 70-yard touchdown reception. Bryant rallied to within three on its very next drive, going 69 yards in nine plays. The Bulldogs then had a chance to retake the lead thanks to a great play from their special teams unit. The Black and Gold defense held on Wagner's next possession, forcing a 52-yard field goal attempt with just over six minutes to play. Rushing in from the outside, junior cornerback Jeremy Woodson dove and blocked the attempt to give Bryant the ball at its own 39. Wagner, however, held the Bulldogs to a three-and-out, sacking Mike Westerhaus on a third-and-two. The Seahawks scored five plays later to put the game away, 31-21. Junior wide receiver Jordan Harris led the Bulldogs with nine catches for 201 yards and two touchdowns. The nine catches are tied for the third-most in a single-game in program history and the 201 receiving yards are the second-most in a single game. Harris now holds the top three receiving games in school history, posting a school-record 224 yards last season against Albany.
NAMED NEC SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Chillis, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., contributed to UAlbany's 55-24 victory over Monmouth in a number of ways, including two huge plays with the Great Danes' special teams unit that earned him the NEC Special Teams Player of the Week honor for Week 5. After Monmouth jumped out to a 7-0 lead by taking the opening kickoff 82 yards on 12 plays, Chillis electrified the home crowd less than one minute later. Facing a 4th-and-10 from its own 23-yard line, UAlbany faked a punt and Chillis took a reverse 77 yards for a touchdown. In addition, the 5-foot-9 receiver ran the second-half kickoff back 58 yards all the way to Monmouth's 42-yard line. The Danes did not score on the ensuing possession, but were able to take control of the field position battle and pin Monmouth deep inside its own 10-yard line. Chillis also received a 44-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter and finished with a career-high 196 all-purpose yards in the victory.
Senior linebacker Jon Morgan led UAlbany with seven tackles against Monmouth. Morgan and the UAlbany defense held the Hawks to just 53 yards on the ground, while also disrupting the passing game with three interceptions as a team. Chris Wilk brought down five, as Dean Mercuris, Jake Dwyer, and Tramaine Wilson recorded picks and ran for over 10 yards each.
Sean Kenny made 2-of-3 field goals in UAlbany's 55-24 win over Monmouth, including a 49-yarder that tied for the second longest made field goal in program history. Kenny also made one from 18-yards, and converted on all seven point-after kicks. Through five games, the Ghent, N.Y. native is 23-for-23 for PAT's. Kenny also averaged 63.0 yards on his 10 kickoffs. The senior recorded four touchbacks, putting the Great Danes defense in excellent position throughout the victory.
PRESLEY ON THE BOARD
With just under a minute and a half to go in the game, Presley Beauvais, a redshirt freshman, recorded his first career touchdown, breaking away with a 67-yard scamper to give UAlbany their last points of the day and put an exclamation point on the 55-24 conference win over Monmouth. Beauvais, who carried the ball three times in the contest, has had flashes of brilliance in his first year on the field.
SMITHFIELD NEXT STOP FOR NEC-TV
After spending back-to-back weeks in the state of Connecticut, NEC-TV will head north to Smithfield, Rhode Island to air a live telecast from Bryant's Bulldog Stadium for the first time ever. Bryant, which began its move to the FCS ranks in 2008, will host the NEC-TV Featured Game of the Week for the first time since joining the conference. The Bulldogs will host defending champion UAlbany in a game that will kick off at 12:00 pm on October 6 and air live on Fox College Sports and ESPN3. In 2011, Bryant was the lone NEC team to defeat UAlbany by posting a 31-17 win in New York's capital. The game will feature two of the top-five rushers on the NEC season leader board. UAlbany's Drew Smith stands second, having ran 82 times for 501 yards in five games. Meanwhile, Preseason All-American Jordan Brown has gained 455 yards on 115 carries for Bryant.
OFF AND RUNNING
UAlbany tailback Drew Smith accounted for 100-plus all-purpose yards for 22nd time in his career against Monmouth; marking the second-most for an individual in program history (David McCarty is first with 24). Smith led the offense with 109 rushing yards on 18 carries, 129 all-purpose yards, and three touchdowns. The senior currently ranks fourth all-time at UAlbany for rushing yards (2,696 yards), moving up two spots in the game vs. the Hawks. He now needs 262 yards to move into third.
SMITH CLIMBS ALL-PURPOSE LADDER
In addition to ranking fourth all-time for rushing yards, Smith is climbing the all-purpose yards ladder. Totaling 620 all-purpose yards through the first five games, Smith ranks second all-time with 4,061 all-purpose yards in his career. He is 915 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- ), 4,061
3. Gary Jones (2002-03), 3,639
4. Greg Garrett (1996-99), 3,562
5. Dan Gmelin (1994-97), 3,185
GOES FOR RECEPTION RECORD
Senior wide receiver Ryan Kirchner made five catches vs. Monmouth and is now five off Tim Bush's record of 147 career receptions. Through five games, he has made 20 catches for a total of 233 yards. 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.
1. Tim Bush (2007-09), 147
2. Ryan Kirchner (2009- ), 142
3. Dan Gmelin (1994-97), 136
4. Chris Phillis (1999-01), 124
5. Irani DeAraujo (2004-07), 95
MORGAN MOVES INTO 16th
With seven tackles against Monmouth, senior Jon Morgan leads the team with 38 tackles this season is tied for 16th place all-time with 231 in his career. Averaging 7.6 per game, the Copiague, N.Y. native is on pace to finish his career in the top-10. Morgan is currently 20 tackles away from tying Brian Becker (2002-05) in 10th place.
The Great Danes' top-ranked offense in the NEC has scored 24 or more points in
18 of the last 20 games, owning a 15-5 record in that span. UAlbany has also
won 12 of their last 15 games and 12 of their last 14 regular season contests.
The Great Danes' 55 points vs. Monmouth marked the most in a game since UAlbany
posted 63 at Central Connecticut last year.
With third-down this fall, the Great Danes have converted in 37-of-73 (51%) tries, while their opponents have been stopped 64% of the time by the UAlbany defense (25-for-70). Against Monmouth, the Great Danes were 11-for-18 on third-down conversions.
The UAlbany defense has recorded seven interceptions this season for 102 yards with Tramaine Wilson and Justinian Mason each snagging two. In NEC play this fall, the Great Danes have logged multiple interceptions in both contests, including two at Robert Morris and three against Monmouth. Recording at least one interception in 4-of-5 games this fall, the only contest UAlbany didn't was in the lone loss of the season at Youngstown State.
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. The first-year starter has had an impressive start to the season, leading the Great Danes to a 4-1 mark. Against Monmouth, Fiacchi passed for a career-high 248 yards, completing 16-of-30 attempts. He also threw for two touchdowns, including an 81-yard dart to Ryan Kirchner, which tied for the fourth longest passing play in UAlbany history. With a 131.90 pass efficiency, Fiacchi ranks second in the NEC. The Marcellus, N.Y. native also owns a 7-to-2 touchdown to interception ratio, completing 85-of-140 passes.
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. September 22nd'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.
Forty was not only the number of points that Albany scored in its Week 1 win over Colgate, but it is also the number of seasons head coach Bob Ford has been at the helm. Ford, who has long been deemed "The Architect of Albany Football," was appointed the head coach when Albany reinstated its football program in 1970 following a 46-year absence.
NEC NO. 1
With six first-place votes, UAlbany was chosen to repeat as Northeast Conference Champions, as announced by the NEC office during the 2012 Preseason Teleconference on Aug. 2nd. The Great Danes, who made their first-ever appearance in the NCAA FCS Playoffs last season, earned their first preseason number one ranking since 2009. In addition to the preseason team rankings, UAlbany placed six players on the All-NEC Preseason Team, led by wide receiver Ryan Kirchner and punter Paul Layton.
The Great Danes have won four or more conference games in all 13 seasons as a Northeast Conference member.
UAlbany's Bob Ford is fourth among the winningest Football Championship Subdivision head coaches in career victories (259). Grambling's Eddie Robinson leads the list with 408.
Winningest FCS Coaches All-Time By Victories
408, Eddie Robinson, Grambling (408-165-15, 55 years)
314, Roy Kidd, Eastern Kentucky (314-124-8, 39 years)
300, Tubby Raymond, Delaware (300-119-3, 36 years)
259, Bob Ford, St. Lawrence, Albany (259-179-1, 44th year)
246, , Dayton (246-54-1, 27 years)
245, Billy Joe, Cheyney, Central State, Florida A&M, Miles (245-127-4, 34 years)
241, Jim Tressel, Youngstown State, Ohio State (241-79-2, 25 years)
UP NEXT: The Great Danes return home to face Saint Francis (Pa.) for Homecoming Weekend Oct. 13. UAlbany owns a perfect 13-0 record against the Red Flash. Kickoff is at 1:00 p.m.
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