Football To Host Red Flash On Homecoming
ALBANY, N.Y. - Entering the weekend with a Northeast Conference-best 5-1 record and 3-0 league mark, the No. 24 University at Albany football team looks to continue its dominating play Saturday when the Great Danes host the Saint Francis Red Flash on Homecoming Weekend. Kickoff will be at 1:00 p.m. at University Field.
CATCH THE ACTION
Cheer from the Stands: It's Homecoming Weekend! Don't miss out on the purple and gold spirit. 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-SAINT FRANCIS ALL-TIME SERIES
The Great Danes and Red Flash meet for the 14th time in program history Saturday. UAlbany looks to keep its all-time record unblemished against Saint Francis, winning all 13 previous clashes by an average margin of 30 points. Last year, the Great Danes won, 41-20, on the road, marking UAlbany's first NEC victory of the season. In the last battle at University Field, the Danes shut out the Red Flash, 48-0, on Oct. 9, 2010. Meeting on Homecoming for the fourth time in history, UAlbany has held Saint Francis off the scoreboard in every one of those contests, winning 48-0 (2010), 48-0 (2006), and 38-0 (2004).
UALBANY QUICK HITS
• UAlbany (5-1, 3-0) is one of two teams with an unblemished conference record this season, along with Duquesne (4-1, 2-0).
• UAlbany has won its last three contests, coming off a 31-14 win at Bryant.
• In their 14th and last season in the NEC, the Great Danes own a 74-23 cumulative record in league play.
• The Great Danes are off to their best start since the 2001 season when UAlbany began 5-0. The only other time UAlbany has had five wins heading into Week 7 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.
• The Great Danes are ranked No. 24 in the FCS Coaches Poll after receiving votes in both The Sports Network Top-25 and 2012 FCS Coaches Poll for preseason and Weeks 1-5.
• UAlbany finished 2011 ranked 23rd in the FCS Coaches Poll and was just off the TSN's Top-25, receiving votes.
• UAlbany has won or shared five Northeast Conference championships (2002, 2003, 2007, 2008 & 2011).
• 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.
• 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 260 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 251-158 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: 5-1, 3-0 NEC (T-1st)
2011 Record: 8-4, 7-1 NEC (T-1st)
NEC Preseason Poll: 1st
Head Coach: Bob Ford (40th season at UAlbany/43rd overall) (251-158-0 / 260-179-1 / 74-23 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 260 career victories and is also fourth among the FCS all-time leaders in career victories.
LAST TIME OUT: UAlbany comes off last Saturday's 31-14 win at Bryant University. Trailing 14-7 at halftime, the Great Danes rallied to score the final 21 points of the contest. Senior wide receiver Ryan Kirchner became the all-time receptions leader at UAlbany, breaking Tim Bush's record of 147 as he recorded seven receptions for 103 yards in the win. Fellow senior Drew Smith finished the day with 104 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. Smith currently ranks first in the nation with 12 touchdowns this fall. Sophomore Will Fiacchi continued to impress in his first year as starting quarterback, as he totaled a career-high 262 passing yards, completing 23-of-34 pass attempts to keep the Great Danes perfect in league play. UAlbany's defense was outstanding as they held Bryant to the lowest single-game rushing output (27 yards) in a NEC contest thus far this season. The Bulldogs' 11 first downs also marked a NEC season low. Defensively, Jon Morgan and Kyle Jordan led the squad with five tackles apiece, while Tim Kologrivov added three, including two for a loss. Justinian Mason had the key play of the game; picking off a pass and running the interception back 75 yards for a touchdown.
THE SEASON SO FAR: The Great Danes are off to their best start since the 2001 season, entering Week 7 with a 5-1 record and perfect 3-0 NEC mark.
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.
Week 2: 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.
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.
Week 4: 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.
Week 5: The Great Danes had 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 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. 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 interceptions and ran for over 10 yards each.
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 RED FLASH
2012 Record: 3-3, 2-1 NEC (T-4th)
2011 Record: 2-9, 1-7 NEC (9th)
NEC Preseason Poll: 9th
Head Coach: Chris Villarrial (3rd season at Saint Francis, 6-22 / 4-15 NEC)
THE COACH: Former National Football League All-Pro Offensive Lineman Chris Villarrial was named the 25th head coach of the Saint Francis University football program on December 20, 2009. He served one year as the offensive coordinator under predecessor Dave Opfar before becoming head coach. A native of Hershey, Pa., Villarrial spent 11 seasons in the NFL as an offensive lineman with the Chicago Bears (1996-2004) and the Buffalo Bills (2004-06).
LAST TIME OUT: Saint Francis used a strong defensive effort to knock off in-state conference rival Robert Morris Saturday at DeGol Field, 10-3. For the second consecutive week the Red Flash defense needed to make a play late in the fourth quarter and against the Colonials they came up big and secured the win. Robert Smith posted 10 tackles for the Flash including a 1.5 sacks to lead the SFU defense, while Ter'Shaudney Phillips posted six tackles, two pass-deflections and an interception. Anthony Abeid recorded a breakout performance with 116 yards receiving, including a 50-yard touchdown reception. The Saint Francis defense held RMU to just three points and turned over the Robert Morris offense twice while sacking RMU quarterback Jeff Sinclair two times.
THE SEASON SO FAR: The Red Flash managed a total of five victories during the last four seasons prior to the current campaign. Halfway through its 2012 schedule, Saint Francis has three victories to its credit and is guaranteed to finish the season with as many wins as the program has ever had during the Northeast Conference era. Since the inception of NEC football in 1996, Saint Francis has had five three-win seasons with the latest having come in 2007. The Flash, who have beaten Pioneer League member Morehead State as well as NEC foes Bryant and Robert Morris, are one win away from clinching their best season in the last two decades. The Red Flash's 2-1 start in NEC play matches the best-ever in program history.
RANKED NO. 24 IN COACHES POLL
With a 5-1 record and 3-0 mark in Northeast Conference play this fall, UAlbany cracked into the Top-25 in the FCS Coaches Poll Monday, ranking 24th in the nation, after receiving votes through the first five weeks of the season. Undefeated in conference play and on a three-game win-streak, the Great Danes are off to their best start since 2001 and have been completely dominant in their victories. Averaging a league-best 35.8 points per game, UAlbany's five wins have been by no less than a 10-point margin and by as high as 31 points, while the only loss was by a touchdown to a top-10 ranked Youngstown State team. Besides finishing 2011 ranked 23rd in the Coaches Poll, the last time the Great Danes were ranked in the regular season was 2006 when UAlbany overcame No. 11 Delaware and No. 23 Central Connecticut State in weeks three and four, respectively. Heading into Week 5 of '06, UAlbany earned a No. 23 rank in both the Coaches and The Sports Network Top-25 polls.
MASON NEC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Mason, a native of Mason, Ohio, made a play that changed the course of Saturday's nationally-televised affair at Bryant and propelled Albany to a 31-14 NEC road victory. With Bryant threatening for the go-ahead score late in the third quarter of a 14-14 game, Mason produced the "Play of the Day." He picked off a 3rd-down pass at UAlbany's 25-yard line and took it 75 yards in the opposite direction for the tie-breaking touchdown with 1:19 left in the third. The strong safety recorded two solo tackles and a pass breakup in addition to his highlight-reel interception return as the Great Danes won for the fifth consecutive time in NEC play. Mason's pass breakup came against preseason all-NEC receiver Jordan Harris with Bryant operating at midfield early on in the final quarter. The third-year Great Dane was a part of a defensive effort that limited Bryant to 202 yards of total offense, including a NEC single-game season-low 27 rush yards. The honor marks the sixth Player of the Week award for the Great Danes this season, and second in Mason's career.
RYAN KIRCHNER RECORD HOLDER
Recording seven receptions for 103 yards in the win at Bryant, senior wide receiver Ryan Kirchner became the all-time receptions leader at UAlbany, breaking Tim Bush's record of 147. Still with five games remaining in the regular season, Kirchner has 149 career catches. Against the Bulldogs, Kirchner led UAlbany with 117 all-purpose yards in the victory. Through six games, he has made 27 catches for a total of 336 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.
SMITH IS NATION'S LEADER
Entering Week 7, Drew Smith ranks first in the nation in scoring, totaling 12 touchdowns (11 rushing) this fall. Smith has crossed the goal line at least once in every game this season, including rushing for three in each of the last two contests.
SMITH OFF AND RUNNING
UAlbany tailback Drew Smith accounted for 100-plus all-purpose yards for the 23rd time in his career against Bryant; Smith finished the day with a 104 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. The senior also currently ranks fourth all-time at UAlbany for rushing yards (2,800 yards). He needs 158 yards to move into third. Smith is averaging 100.8 rushing yards per game this fall.
UAlbany held Bryant to the lowest single-game rushing output (27 yards) in a NEC contest thus far this season. The Bulldogs' 11 first downs also marked a NEC season low. At Bryant, the Great Danes offense uncharacteristically fumbled the ball four times, losing two of them; however the home team scored no points off the two turnovers. Following both of the miscues, UAlbany's defense stepped up and forced Bryant to go 3-and-out on the ensuing possessions.
MORGAN MOVES UP WHILE BRINGING 'EM DOWN
With five tackles against Bryant, senior Jon Morgan leads the team with 43 tackles this season and is tied for 14th place all-time with 236 in his career. The Copiague, N.Y. native is on pace to finish his career in the top-10 at UAlbany. Morgan is currently 15 tackles away from tying Brian Becker (2002-05) in 10th place.
UAlbany's Career Tackles Leaders
1. Colin Disch (2004-07), 416
2. Josh Bazan (1999-02), 354
3. Mike Grever (1996-99), 351
4. Frank Sarcone (1984-87), 344
5. Chris Locci (1991-94), 298
6. Frank Villanova (1973-75), 296
7. Don Mion (1973-74), 271
8. Justin Brancaccio (2006-09), 261
9. Joe Pierreca (1985-88), 253
10. Brian Becker (2002-05), 251
--Jon Morgan (2009-), 236
The UAlbany defense has recorded eight interceptions this season for 177 yards led by Justinian Mason's three, including one at Bryant on Saturday. The Great Danes have logged at least one interception in 5-of-6 games this fall. The only contest UAlbany didn't was in the lone loss of the season at Youngstown State.
The Great Danes' top-ranked offense in the NEC has scored 24 or more points in 19 of the last 21 games, owning a 16-5 record in that span. UAlbany has also won 13 of their last 16 games and 13 of their last 15 regular season contests. Every victory this season has been by at least a 10-point margin.
ANOTHER DOUBLE-DIGIT WIN FOR DANES
Even in Saturday's hard-fought NEC battle at Bryant, Albany found a way to pull away. The Great Danes faced a 14-7 halftime deficit, but posted a 17-point victory. The second-half turnaround allowed Albany to continue its streak of double digit triumphs. All five of the Danes' wins have come by no fewer than 10 points and by as much as 31. In addition to a 30-20 win over then-No. 23 Maine, UAlbany proved 17 points better than Patriot League member Colgate. The Danes' lone loss came by a mere touchdown on Sept. 15 at then-No. 5 Youngstown State in a game that was tied three times. Albany has won its three NEC contests thus far - having beaten Bryant, Monmouth and Robert Morris - by an average of 24.3 points per victory.
With third-down this fall, the Great Danes have converted in 48-of-91 (53%) tries, while their opponents have been stopped 66% of the time by the UAlbany defense (29-for-85).
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 5-1 mark. Against Bryant, Fiacchi passed for a career-high 262 yards, completing 23-of-34 attempts. With a 130.84 pass efficiency, Fiacchi ranks second in the NEC. The Marcellus, N.Y. native also owns a 7-to-3 touchdown to interception ratio, completing 108-of-174 passes.
The Great Danes will have to wait until Oct. 27th for their next game, as next Saturday is UAlbany’s bye week. When play resumes, the Danes will travel to Sacred Heart for a 1:00 p.m. kickoff.
UPCOMING UALBANY PROMOTIONS
Nov. 3 vs. Wagner - CDPHP T-Shirt Day
Nov 17 vs. Central Connecticut - Pop Warner, Military Appreciation Day, Wounded Warriors