UAlbany Great Danes Hand SHU Pioneers their First Loss, 26-21

Oct. 18, 2008

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FAIRFIELD, Conn. (October 18, 2008) - The Albany Great Danes piled up 504 yards of total offense, 320 on the ground, en route to their ninth-straight Northeast Conference victory Saturday afternoon, 26-21 at Sacred Heart. The Great Dane offense was led by running back David McCarty who pounded out 207 yards on 32 carries in the win. The Pioneers got 101 yards receiving on eight catches from junior wide receiver Steve Tedesco (Mission Viejo, CA) in their first loss of the season, snapping a six-game winning streak.

The UAlbany (4-3, 3-0 NEC) offense took over the game in the third quarter, holding the ball for 11:41 while running 29 plays to SHU's five as they turned a 14-10 halftime deficit into a 17-14 lead that they never let go of. In the second half, UAlbany ran for 217 yards and put together scoring drives that covered 80, 75 and 80 yards.

The Pioneers (6-1, 2-1 NEC) saw their first drive of the day stall out but caught a break on the Great Dane's first possession as senior safety Jeff Hodges (Miami, FL) picked-off a Vinny Esposito pass on the SHU 35-yard line and returned it 10-yards. The turnover went wasted as SHU quarterback Dale Fink (Swansea, IL) was intercepted six-plays later looking for his tight end Tom Stripe (Mahwah, NJ) over the middle giving the ball back to the Great Danes on their 15.

Esposito engineered a 12 play drive that he capped off with a one-yard plunge on fourth and goal to open the scoring with just over three minutes left in the quarter. SHU answered with a nine play drive off the ensuing kickoff that covered 77 yards with running back Evin Jones (Pennsauken, NJ) pounding it in from two-yards out to tie it at 7-7.

UAlbany again mounted a long scoring drive to recapture the lead as they covered 80-yards on 10 plays, capped by a Herb Glass 22 yard field goal when their drive stalled out on the two-yard line. SHU took their first lead of the afternoon at 14-10 on their next possession as Fink found freshman Jared Kemp (Miami, FL) for his first career touchdown on first and goal at the eight yard line. The big play on the drive came on a second and nine at the SHU 42 with Fink hooking up with Jones on a 28-yard screen play.

The Pioneers appeared to come up with the play of the day on the Albany's first play from scrimmage after the ensuing kickoff. Esposito's pass over the middle slipped through the receiver's hands and into the arms of SHU linebacker Rich Marrone (Brooklyn, NY) at the 25-yard line. Marrone headed for the left pylon and the score but just before he could dive for the end zone Great Dane wide receiver Tim Bush chopped the ball out of his hands from behind, forcing a fumble that went across the goal line and out of bounds resulting in a touchback to give UAlbany back the ball on their 20-yard line with no harm done. Neither team could find points on their final drives of the half and SHU carried a 14-10 lead into the locker room at the break.

The Great Danes, who won the toss and deferred to the second half, took the kickoff to open the third quarter and took the game over up front. McCarty ended a 14-play scoring drive with a two-yard rush to go up 17-14 in the quarter's opening minutes. After a five-play SHU drive ended in a punt, UAlbany grinded out a 16-play drive that ended with a 34-yard Glass field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter and a 20-14 lead.

SHU suffered another three and out and the Great Danes answered again with another long drive that resulted in points. An eight-play, 80-yard jaunt was capped by Esposito's second score of the day on an 18-yard option keeper. The two-point conversion failed leaving the Great Danes leading 26-14 with just over 10 minutes left. The Pioneers were able to get the game back to one score but needed 12-plays to do it. Fink found a wide open Tedesco for his team-leading seventh touchdown from 19-yards out to trail 26-21 with 4:34 to go.

The Pioneers elected to kickoff deep with all three timeouts in hand but as they did all afternoon the Great Dane offense went to their ground attack and picked-up the final few first downs they needed to end the game with ball in their hands. UAlbany three times converted on third-down on the drive as they kneeled out the final few seconds for the win.

UAlbany ran 77 plays in the win, averaging 6.5 yards per-play and 6.2 yards per rush. Offensively, the Great Danes converted on 10 of their 16 third down opportunities and held the time of possession edge, 33:50 to 26:10.

SHU got 247 yards passing from Fink who completed 25 of 34 with two scores and a pick in the loss. Jones ran the ball 16 times for 46 yards while catching seven passes for 70 yards. Defensively, sophomore Brian Flumere (Milford, MA) had a career-high 11 tackles including a sack.

The Pioneers head back to Western Pennsylvania next weekend as the visit Duquesne for a 1:00 pm kickoff.

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