Posted at: 09/22/2013 10:54 PM
By: Chris Onorato
ALBANY, N.Y. – Despite a touchdown lead heading into the fourth quarter, the University at Albany football team suffered its second straight home loss at Bob Ford Field Saturday night, as the visiting Central Connecticut State Blue Devils scored 10 unanswered points in the final stanza to steal a 20-17 victory.
CCSU’s Steven Calitri hit a 40-yard field goal with 17 seconds remaining after driving 61-yards down the gridiron, improving the Blue Devils’ record to 1-3 on the season, while the Great Danes also fell to 1-3 overall. UAlbany tried to respond quickly in the closing seconds, throwing a 40-yard Hail Mary pass as time expired. Jameel Gay caught Will Fiacchi’s toss but he was brought down at the 10-yard line, ending the game.
Leading UAlbany’s strong running attack, Omar Osbourne earned his second 100+ yard rushing game of the season, totaling 119 yards with two touchdowns. With 96 points scored in his career, Osbourne is now tied with Orin Griffin (1973-76) – a member of the 1974 team that was inducted into the University’s Hall of Fame this weekend – for 23rd all-time in the program’s archives. In a pregame ceremony, players from the 1974 squad served as honorary captains for the game.
Also leading the Great Dane offense, Fiacchi finished with 140 passing yards on 12 completions in 21 attempts. Gay totaled 50 receiving yards on two catches. Defensively, Cody Greenhagen led the Great Danes with eight tackles, including one for a loss.
UAlbany received the opening kickoff, getting a drive-opening six-yard run from Osbourne. The Great Danes went three-and-out and punted.
On CCSU’s first drive, Rob Holloman converted a couple of third downs on a 13-yard catch and later a 13-yard run. Holloman kept rushing the ball up to the UAlbany six, but a combo block on second-down by Tom Bradley and Andrew Smith of Holloman and an Andrew Clements incompletion forced fourth down. Steven Calitri converted the 30-yard field goal to put the visitors up 3-0 with 8:31 left in the first quarter.
Despite punting on their next drive, UAlbany swung momentum back into their favor, as CCSU’s Nick Bacarella fumbled the fair catch attempt, and Michael Nicastro recovered on the UAlbany-48. The Great Danes drove down the field, with Osbourne converting a fourth down with a four-yard run, facing 4th-and-1. The Danes rushed the ball to the 22, leading to Tom O’Riordan 39-yard field goal, tying the game at 3-3 in the closing seconds of the quarter.
Following kickoff, Aaron Berardino fumbled the ball in the backfield on the first play of the CCSU drive. Michael Smith fell on the ball in front of Berardino, giving UAlbany the ball at the CCSU 26.
After an opening three-yard gain, Jake Meek entered at quarterback and ran the ball twice in a row for a total of 14 yards. At 3rd-and-5 on the CCSU 7, Osbourne took over, powering his way into the end zone for the touchdown. O’Riordan’s extra point gave UAlbany a 10-3 lead with 13:36 remaining in the second quarter.
However, CCSU responded in its next drive, converting three third-downs on a Clements 11-yard run, Holloman 13-yard reception and Denzell Jones 23-yard catch. Holloman’s nine-yard reception put the Blue Devils on the one-yard line for a 4th-and-goal attempt. Clements completed a rollout pass to Tom Tarantino for the touchdown, tying the game at 10-10 after the extra point with 8:01 to go in the second quarter.
With rain starting to fall in the third quarter, UAlbany forced a three-and-out on CCSU’s opening drive of the half, but were then forced to punt themselves.
The defensive battle continued, until the Great Danes used a 15-play, 78-yard drive to take a 17-10 advantage with 16 second remaining in the quarter. The Great Danes primarily used a ground attack with nine rushing plays. With 1st-and-goal on the five, Osbourne ran three times, getting to the one. On fourth down, Osbourne ran it again and converted for his second touchdown of the game to put UAlbany back in the lead. O’Riordan’s extra point made it a seven-point game.
However, on the next drive CCSU tied it back up, as Hollman took the handoff and ran to his right, going 59 yards for the touchdown. Calitri’s extra point made it 17-17 with 14:19 left in regulation.
After each side’s next two drives were three-and-out, UAlbany had a chance to take the lead with under five minutes remaining. Osbourne took six rushes for a total of 24 yards on the drive as the team pushed to the seven-yard line. However, the field goal attempt sailed wide right, giving the ball to CCSU with 4:53 to go.
Holloman led the attack, combining for 41 yards on seven rushes and a nine-yard reception, as the Blue Devils got to the UAlbany-23. With 17 seconds left, Calitri kicked a 40-yard field goal to give CCSU a 20-17 lead.
Fiacchi tried to lead one last drive, finding Chillis for 15 yards to stop the clock at seven seconds. At midfield, Fiacchi heaved a Hail Mary pass down the near side, completing the heave to Jameel Gay for 40 yards as time expired, ending the game for a 20-17 CCSU win.
For the Blue Devils, Holloman finished with 205 total yards, including 145 on the ground. Clements passed for 140 yards, completing 13 passes in 22 attempts. Chuck Watson had 15 tackles on defense, including three for loss.
UAlbany will hit the road next week to take on Old Dominion on Saturday, September 28th in Norfolk, Virginia at 6 p.m.