“We gave to much away and getting stopped twice on the goal line and something that has not happened to us in a long time, we left eleven points on the board”UAlbany Head Coach Greg Gattuso
Going into Saturday’s game the Great Danes were coming off a bye-week. Looking to pick up where they left off from, a victory the previous week over Central Connecticut St. It was their first win of the season, and they were hoping that it was also going to be the beginning of a run that is much needed to save there season. Monmouth on the other hand was looking to continue their winning streak to four, after starting the season 0-2, they have won three straight, with their most recent/ deciding victory over Lehigh 35-7. One thing was for sure regardless of the outcome of the game, it was going to be high scoring, with these two teams.
At the beginning of the game, the Great Danes had the momentum, they intercepted Monmouth on the third play of the game and ended their drive with Todd Sibley scoring a two-yard touchdown. As expected though, Monmouth came back on the next drive, on the next play and running back Jaden Shirden ran for a 75-yard touchdown to tie the game. Even though UAlbany stopped on the next few drives, midway through the first quarter, Jaden Shirden ran for a 30-yard touchdown, to not only give the Hawks the lead (14-7), but it put him over 100 yards for the day.
What happened on the next drive is what was the turning point of the game, the Great Danes drove down the field to the one-yard line and was stopped on all four downs, instead of kicking the field goal and putting three points on the board, they decided to go for it and was stopped, on the one-yard line. When Monmouth started the drive on the one-yard line, it looked like on the first play they were going to get called for a safety, but they were not. This was critical, because on the next play running back Owen Wright broke for a 99-yard touchdown run, to bust the lead 21-7. Those two plays were critical, because it gave Monmouth opportunities, they would not have had, if Albany had not went for it and, the touchback/safety that was not called.
On the next drive Monmouth drove deep enough to kick a 30 yard field goal from Eric Bernstein, giving them a 24-7 lead. The game was starting to look like it was going to slip away from Albany and also look like a replica of what Monmouth did to Lehigh. Before halftime, UAlbany did gain some of the momentum back, as they methodically moved down the field on a 13 play 90-yard drive, that took five minutes, ending with a John Opalko 19-yard field goal. This change some of the momentum as the great Danes went into halftime trailing by 14 instead of 17 (24-10).
As expected, the Great Danes came out of halftime, fighting and with the momentum. On the first drive, they put together an eight play 76-yard drive, that resulted in running back Todd Sibley scoring on a 19-yard touchdown run, to bring them within seven (24-17). After that drive both teams were able to get stops for most of the rest of the third quarter, but at the three-minute mark, which was the second turning point in the game. Quarterback Tony Muskett hit wide receiver Jack Neri for a 16 yard touchdown pass, that put the Hawks up 31-17 and go into the fourth quarter with a 14 point lead . What was impressive, but not surprising, was going into the fourth quarter was UAlbany resilience to fight back into the game all the way down to the last play. They did bring it down to the final seconds, but what was the nail in the coffin and solidified the win early, was the last time Monmouth scored. The Hawks put together an 11 play 66 yard drive that took nearly five plus minutes off the clock, with Owen Wright running in from the one yard line.
This drive put UAlbany in hurry up, giving them even a lesser of a chance, to come back. UAlbany still had a chance at the end, they were inside the 20 at the end of the regulation and Poffenbarger attempted a pass to wide receiver Jeff Wilkes, that was incomplete, due to the collision between two defenders. The collision looked like targeting, but after further review it was decided it was not, which clearly did not go over well with the Great Danes, especially as their wide receiver did lay motionless on the field. Wilkes eventually got to his feet and was carted off the field, after the game there was some clear tension, which was diffused by the coaches, who also both showed concern for the hurt wide receiver after the game.
UAlbany with this loss is still winless in the conference and even though they are not in last place, they are 1-4, with a angry Hampton team that is coming off a loss to Maine. As coach Gattuso states, just have to take it one game at a time, in which they are going to have to do, if they want to salvage their season and finish strong. Monmouth on the other hand, now have four straight wins after starting the season 0-2. They are sitting right outside of the top four teams in the conference at number five and now travel up to Maine to look for win number five in a row. If they win that game, they will end up one more spot or higher in the standings, stay tuned!
|10:18 – ALB – Sibley,Todd 2 yd run (Opalko,John kick), 9 plays, 51 yards, TOP 03:20||7||0|
|10:04 – MON – Shirden,Jaden 75 yd run (Bernstein,Eric kick), 1 plays, 75 yards, TOP 00:14||7||7|
|03:13 – MON – Shirden,Jaden 30 yd run (Bernstein,Eric kick), 4 plays, 51 yards, TOP 01:00||7||14|
|08:37 – MON – Wright,Owen 99 yd run (Bernstein,Eric kick), 3 plays, 97 yards, TOP 01:51||7||21|
|05:07 – MON – Bernstein,Eric 30 yd field goal 8 plays, 53 yards, TOP 03:07||7||24|
|00:09 – ALB – Opalko,John 19 yd field goal 13 plays, 90 yards, TOP 04:58||10||24|
|10:28 – ALB – Sibley,Todd 19 yd run (Opalko,John kick), 8 plays, 76 yards, TOP 04:21||17||24|
|03:42 – MON – Neri,Jack 16 yd pass from Muskett,Tony (Bernstein,Eric kick) 5 plays, 53 yards, TOP 01:36||17||31|
|12:12 – ALB – Poffenbarger,Reese 1 yd run (Opalko,John kick), 12 plays, 70 yards, TOP 06:21||24||31|
|06:28 – MON – Wright,Owen 1 yd run (Bernstein,Eric kick), 11 plays, 66 yards, TOP 05:37||24||38|
|03:38 – ALB – Alexander,Roy 8 yd pass from Poffenbarger,Reese (Opalko,John kick) 9 plays, 76 yards, TOP 02:43||31||38|