UAlbany Football Travels To Duquesne Saturday
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Despite falling out of first place in the Northeast Conference standings and out of the Top-25 national ranks after last week's loss to Wagner, the University at Albany football team is still playing for a championship and playoff berth when they travel to take on Duquesne Saturday. While their fate is not entirely in their hands, the Great Danes must win out in order to have a chance at their second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. Kickoff at Rooney Field is at 12:10 p.m.
CATCH THE ACTION
Cheer from the Stands: Click here for Duquesne ticket information.
Listen: The game can be heard in the Capital Region on FOX Sports 980AM or anywhere online here. To listen on your mobile device, download the iHeartRadio app and search for FOX Sports 980. Rodger Wyland and Zach Bye will have the call.
Watch at Home: Saturday's action will be video streamed live at GoDuquesne.com.
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 Great Danes (5-1) have two NEC games left on the schedule, facing Duquesne (3-3) and Central Connecticut State (2-3). First-place Wagner (6-1) has just one NEC game left on the slate and it's against the Dukes. Here are UAlbany's championship scenarios...
--If UAlbany wins both games and Wagner loses to Duquesne, the Great Danes will capture their sixth NEC title and make their second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament.
--If UAlbany wins both games and Wagner beats Duquesne, the Great Danes will share the NEC title with Wagner, but Wagner will earn the postseason berth after winning the head-to-head battle last week.
--If UAlbany wins one-of-two and Wagner loses to Duquesne, the Great Danes will share the NEC title with Wagner, but the Seahawks will earn the postseason bid.
--If UAlbany wins one-of-two and Wagner beats Duquesne, Wagner will be the NEC champion.
--If UAlbany loses both games, Wagner will be the NEC champion.
THE UALBANY-DUQUESNE SERIES
UAlbany leads the all-time series 4-1. The series dates back to the ECAC Division I-AA Football Classic in 2002, before Duquesne became an associate member of the NEC in 2008. The Great Danes won that first meeting, 24-0, in Albany. From there, UAlbany won the next two clashes, 33-23, in 2008 and 55-10 in 2009. Duquesne captured its lone win of the series in 2010 in Pittsburgh by a score of 28-17. Last year, UAlbany overcame the Dukes, 38-10, at home.
UALBANY QUICK HITS
- UAlbany (7-2, 5-1) sits a half game behind Wagner (6-3, 6-1) in the NEC standings.
- The Great Danes were ranked No. 18 in the FCS Coaches Poll and No. 20 in the Sports Network Top-25 before falling out of both polls after last week's loss to Wagner.
- In their 14th and last season in the NEC, the Great Danes own a 76-24 cumulative record in league play.
- The Great Danes are off to their best start since the 2001 season when UAlbany began 7-1 and 5-1 in NEC play.
- 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.
- Senior Ryan Kirchner is UAlbany's all-time leading receiver with 165 career catches.
- 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. A win against Duquesne will make number five.
- The Great Danes have registered six consecutive winning seasons for the first time in the program's history (2006-11) and have already secured their seventh in 2012 with a 7-2 record with two games remaining in the regular season.
- Bob Ford is fourth among the FCS all-time leaders in career victories and is first among active NCAA Division I FCS coaches with 262 career victories.
- Ford is in his 40th varsity season as head coach at UAlbany with a 253-159 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: 7-2, 5-1 NEC (2nd)
2011 Record: 8-4, 7-1 NEC (T-1st)
NEC Preseason Poll: 1st
Head Coach: Bob Ford (40th season at UAlbany/44th overall) (253-159-0 / 262-180-1 / 76-24 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 262 career victories and is also fourth among the FCS all-time leaders in career victories.
LAST TIME OUT: After silencing Wagner, 24-0, in Staten Island last season, the Seahawks turned the tables Saturday, and shut out the Great Danes, 30-0. Wagner came off a chaotic week of no power, cold showers, and the devastation of Hurricane Sandy in their Staten Island campus community to overcome the then No. 18/20 ranked Danes in a key NEC contest at University Field. The loss marked UAlbany's first in the league this year and just the second time the Great Danes have fallen to Wagner in their 16-game all-time series. Coming into the game averaging a conference-best 34.25 points per game, the Great Danes struggled against the Seahawks, managing just 188 yards of offense, compared to Wagner's 413 offensive yards. Playing without the second-leading scorer in the nation, senior tailback Drew Smith, for a game due to a violation of team rules, sophomore Omar Osbourne took on the starting role and led the Great Danes with 51 rushing yards on 12 carries. Will Fiacchi threw for 103 yards, completing 18-of-33 passes, including six each to Jameel Gay and Ryan Kirchner. Gay's six catches and 43 receiving yards marked a career-high, while Kirchner finished with 34 yards. Defensively, senior Dave Plungas recorded double-digit tackles for the second straight game, bringing down a team-high 11, including 10 solo. Senior inside linebacker Jon Morgan tallied eight tackles, moving into ninth place all-time at UAlbany with 255 in his career.
THE SEASON SO FAR: The Great Danes are off to their best start since the 2001 season, entering Week 11 with a 7-2 record and 5-1 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.
Week 6: UAlbany captured a 31-14 win at Bryant University on Oct. 6th. 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.
Week 7: In front of 6,852 fans, marking the third-largest home crowd in program history and largest since 1978, UAlbany overcame the visiting Saint Francis Red Flash on Homecoming, 36-13. The Great Danes battled back from a 10-0 deficit to outscore the Red Flash, 36-3, the rest of the way. For the third straight game, Drew Smith blasted his way into the end zone three different times, bringing his then nation-leading total up to 15 touchdowns this season. Ryan Kirchner made four catches for 58 receiving yard and also returned three punts for 46 yards. Sophomore Cole King matched his career-high of seven receptions, recording an even 100 yards on the afternoon. Sophomore Jake Meek had a break-out game, rushing 48 yards from the quarterback position and tallied two touchdowns, including a 38-yard scoring scamper. Sophomore quarterback Will Fiacchi had another sound game in the pocket, completing 21-of-31 attempts for 255 passing yards. Defensively, senior Chris Wilk led the squad with eight tackles, including five solo, as the defense shut out Saint Francis in the second half.
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: UAlbany recovered from a slow start to take a 23-20 victory over the hosting Sacred Heart Pioneers on Oct. 29th. With 1:13 remaining in the game, Omar Osbourne rushed 40 yards into the end zone for the winning touchdown on a draw play. The duo of senior wide receiver Ryan Kirchner and sophomore quarterback Will Fiacchi led the UAlbany offense, connecting for two touchdowns in the victory. Kirchner made six catches for 86 yards, while Fiacchi completed 14-of-32 passes for 195 yards. Senior tailback Drew Smith led the Great Danes' ground game with 103 rushing yards on 27 carries, finishing with 116 all-purpose yards. In addition Kevin Chillis also broke the 100 all-purpose yard mark, totaling 106 after four receptions, two rushes, and two kickoff returns. Defensively, senior Dave Plungas had an incredible game with 16 tackles, marking a team season-high for the Great Danes, and personal career-high, while classmate Jon Morgan had two game-changing interceptions and five tackles. In addition, Leon Saddler brought down nine.
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 DUKES
2012 Record: 5-4, 3-3 NEC (4th)
2011 Record: 9-2, 7-1 NEC (T-1st)
NEC Preseason Poll: 2nd
Head Coach: Jerry Schmitt (8th season at Duquesne/14th overall) (47-35 / 75-56)
THE COACH: Jerry Schmitt is in his eighth season as Duquesne's head coach. An assistant from 1985-87 and again from 1992-99 for the Dukes, Schmitt spent five years as head coach at his alma mater, Westminster College, in New Wilmington, Pa., before returning to put his mark on the program. He led the Dukes to three consecutive Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Football League championships and earned MAAC Coach of the Year two times in his first three seasons as head coach. In 2011, Schmitt continued Duquesne's transition as a scholarship-granting associate member of the Northeast Conference by guiding the Dukes to a 9-2 record and NEC co-Championship (with UAlbany) with a 7-1 record.
THE SEASON SO FAR: While Duquesne is out of the running for the conference title with a 3-3 NEC mark so far, the Dukes will be the team that decides the winner. Duquesne started the league season with wins over Bryant (35-21) and Saint Francis (24-21), but then slipped to Central Connecticut State (38-31). The Dukes rebounded with a dominating win over Sacred Heart (35-3), but since then have lost two straight close ones to Monmouth (28-27) and Robert Morris (17-13). With just the top two teams, Albany and Wagner, left on the schedule, the fate of the champion lies in the hands of the Dukes. This season Duquesne has been led by running back Larry McCoy. McCoy became the program's all-time leading rusher (4,405 yards), netting 926 yards and nine touchdowns this season. Quarterback Sean Patterson owns a 131.22 pass efficiency rating (164-275-6) with 15 touchdowns, while averaging 210.8 passing yards per game. Defensively, Dorian Bell is tied for sixth in the FCS averaging 11.5 tackles per contest.
LAYTON'S RECORD LONG PUNT
Junior Paul Layton punted seven times against Wagner, averaging 43.0 yards, including a career-long and program record 82-yarder. He also pinned the Seahawks inside their 20 once and had two touchbacks.
The Great Danes suffered their seventh shutout in Division I history Saturday, falling to Wagner 30-0. It marked the first time UAlbany failed to score any points since Oct. 16, 2010 at Robert Morris (38-0).
TOUGH DAY AT HOME
Coming into Saturday's game averaging a conference-best 34.25 points per game, the Great Danes struggled against the Seahawks, managing just 188 yards of offense, compared to Wagner's 413 offensive yards. The game, which marked UAlbany's 100th in the NEC (76-24), knocked the Danes out of first place in the standings.
Drew Smith - With 41 career touchdowns (36 rushing, 5 receiving) Smith needs to score two more touchdown to break UAlbany's all-time career record of 42 held by Gary Jones (2002-03).
- Rushing for 36 touchdowns in his career, Smith is four rushing touchdowns away from tying UAlbany's all-time leader Gary Jones (2002-03) with 40.
- Drew Smith has totaled 2,978 career rushing yards, moving him into third place all-time at UAlbany. He is 55 yards away from second (Gary Jones: 3,033).
Jon Morgan - Making eight tackles vs. Wagner, Morgan moved into ninth all-time at UAlbany with 255 now in his career. He is six away from moving up another spot and tying with Justin Brancaccio (2006-09).
PLUNGAS' BIG DAY
Senior Dave Plungas had an incredible game with 16 tackles at Sacred Heart, marking a team season-high for the Great Danes, and personal career-high. He was also just two tackles short of tying UAlbany's FCS record of 18, held by Josh Bazan (2002) and Colin Disch (2005). Plungas also reached double figures against Wagner, bringing down 11. He ranks second among active players with 238 career tackles and has a shot at finishing in the top-10 all-time at UAlbany.
For the fourth time in the FCS era and for the second straight year, the Great Danes went undefeated in the month of October. UAlbany won all three contests against Bryant (31-14), Saint Francis (36-13) and Sacred Heart (23-20). The other three times the Danes won every game in October were also the last three times UAlbany won the NEC title - 2007, 2008, and 2011.
Last week, UAlbany jumped four slots in The Sports Network Top-25 to No. 20 and two spots in the FCS Coaches Poll to No. 18, representing the highest the Great Danes have ever been ranked in both polls in Division I history. The week prior, UAlbany appeared in the pair of Top-25 lists for the second time in program history and first time since Sept. 25, 2006. It also marked a first for an NEC team since Robert Morris was ranked 25th in the Nov. 8, 2010 poll. However, the loss to Wagner dropped the Danes out of both rankings, but still receiving votes.
UAlbany has reached the seven-win mark in 10 of 14 seasons at the Division I FCS level and 20 times in program history. The Great Danes set the program's single-season FCS record with nine wins in 2008. UAlbany owns a 95-58 record as a NCAA FCS program in 14 years.
SMITH IS ONE OF NATION'S BEST
Entering Week 11, Drew Smith is fourth in the nation in scoring with 11.25 points per game and totaling 15 touchdowns (14 rushing) this fall. Smith has crossed the goal line in seven-of-eight games played. Smith rushed for three touchdowns in three consecutive contests vs. Monmouth, Bryant, and Saint Francis. He has totaled 783 rushing yards, averaging 97.9 yards per game and 5.2 yards per carry, and ranks third all-time at UAlbany with 2,978 career rushing yards. He is 55 yards away from second (Gary Jones: 3,033). With 36 career rushing touchdowns, he is five away from taking sole possession of UAlbany's career record.
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 two games remaining in the regular season, Kirchner has 165 career catches. Through nine games, he has made 43 catches for a total of 519 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 OFF AND RUNNING
UAlbany tailback Drew Smith currently ranks third all-time at UAlbany with 2,978 career rushing yards. He is 55 rushing yards from second, and 1,309 yards off of David McCarty's record (4,287). Smith is also climbing the all-purpose yards ladder. Totaling 996 all-purpose yards through eight games played, Smith ranks second all-time with 4,437 yards in his career. He is 539 yards away from David McCarty's record (4,976).
UAlbany's Career Rushing Yards Leaders
1. David McCarty (2006-09), 4,287
2. Gary Jones (2002-03), 3,033
3. Drew Smith (2009-12), 2,978
4. Greg Garrett (1996-99), 2,958
5. Tom DeBlois (1973-76), 2,680
1. David McCarty (2006-09), 4,976
2. Drew Smith (2009-12), 4,437
3. Gary Jones (2002-03), 3,639
4. Greg Garrett (1996-99), 3,562
5. Dan Gmelin (1994-97), 3,185
UAlbany's Career Receptions Leaders
1. Ryan Kirchner (2009-12), 165
2. Tim Bush (2007-09), 147
3. Dan Gmelin (1994-97), 136
4. Chris Phillis (1999-01), 124
5. Irani DeAraujo (2004-07), 95
MORGAN MOVES UP WHILE BRINGING 'EM DOWN
Senior Jon Morgan leads the team with 62 tackles this season and is in ninth place all-time with 255 in his career. The Copiague, N.Y. native is six away from moving up another spot and tying with Justin Brancaccio (2006-09).
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. Jon Morgan (2009-12), 255
10. Joe Pierreca (1985-88), 253
-- Dave Plungas (2009-12), 238
The Great Danes close the regular season at home versus Central Connecticut State. Kickoff will be at 1:00 p.m. UAlbany’s 23 seniors will be honored in a pregame ceremony.
UPCOMING UALBANY PROMOTIONS
Nov 17 vs. Central Connecticut - Pop Warner, Military Appreciation Day, Wounded Warriors.