Albany Firebirds head coach Tony Bowick vowed some major changes will be made on his struggling team.
And this team needs them in the worst way.
Former Firebirds quarterback Ryan Vena ripped the Albany defense for eight touchdown strikes and completed 19 of 27 passes for 235 yards to lead Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to a 70-26 victory Saturday night at Times Union Arena.
Albany fell to 0-5. The Pioneers improved to 4-1.
Although the Firebirds’ defense failed to slow down the talented Pioneers, the offense was equally horrendous. In fact, the Firebirds reached the end zone just four times and missed two conversions.
“Changes will be made,” said
Bowick. “We have 11 games left, and I’ll put in guys who want to play this game for fun. Everybody here is in a comfort zone, and I’m about to take them out of that comfort zone.
“We didn’t show enough hunger. And we’re five weeks into the season, so it’s not youth that is an excuse.”
Firebirds’ defensive back/wide receiver Alvin Jackson said that it was more Albany’s fault for the one-sided nature of the game than the Pioneers’ level of talent.
“They put their pants on just like us,” he said. ‘We didn’t come to play tonight. We’ve got to get better. We are professionals, and we come to work each day and play hard.
Everybody on this team is still trying hard, but we’ve got to get better.”
Bowick was asked why a couple of his players didn’t seem to show up.
“A couple? This is a professional sport. Everbody is paid the same,” he said. “At some point, you’ve got to become a student of the game. I can’t go out there and play the game for them. That’s why there are some aspects of this team where changes need to be made.”
The Firebirds thought they upgraded their offense with some recent roster moves. They activated receiver Harry DeBerry off the injured reserve list and also added offensive lineman Bo Zollarcoffer. But it didn’t help.
Albany quarterback Adam Bednarik completed just 18 of 38 passes and was intercepted twice.
To make matters worse, two key Firebirds were injured during the game. Christian Wise, who caught a team-high nine passes for 139 yards and a score, hurt his shoulder early in the third quarter and never returned. Defensive back Patrick Horn hurt his knee in the fourth quarter.
Wilkes-Barre scored every time it touched the ball in the first half. Vena found JJ Outlaw for a pair of touchdowns for a 14-0 lead before Bednarik scored on a quarterback sneak to get Albany on the board late in the first quarter.
Vena found Outlaw for a third TD before Kirby Griffin scored on a three-yard run to open up a 28-7 Pioneers lead with 5:53 left in the half. When Vena and Rich Musinski combined on a 13-yard TD strike, the Pioneers’ lead expanded to
Albany’s best offensive play was a 45-yard post play from Bednarik to Wise that resulted in a Firebirds touchdown with 52.7 seconds left and pulled the team to within
But Vena fired a long TD pass to Irving Campbell with 13.6 seconds remaining in the half to build the Pioneers’ cushion back to 42-14.
The Firebirds managed to score just before intermission when Bednarick hit Jackson for an eight-yard TD in the corner of the end zone.
The second half was all Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, as the Pioneers outscored the Firebirds, 28-6.
Campbell caught two TD passes from Vena, who also hooked up with Griffin, a bruising fullback, for another scoring pass. Outlaw closed out the Pioneers’ scoring with a 41-yard pass from former Albany backup quarterback Joe DeLuise.
Bednarik’s 12-yard TD pass to Anthony Rodriguez prevented the Firebirds from being shut out in the second half once again.
“Wilkes-Barre didn’t do anything that we didn’t expect them to do,” said Bowick. “They were just more physical than we were.”
“We needed to play a lot better than that to win, and I personally have to do a lot better,” said DeBerry.
Albany hosts Mahoning Valley Saturday night at 7.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton 14 28 14 14 — 70
Albany 7 13 0 6 — 26
WB — Outlaw 12 pass from Vena (Davis kick).
WB — Outlaw 3 pass from Vena (Davis kick).
A — Bednarik 1 run (Umstead kick).
WB — Outlaw 9 pass from Vena (Davis kick).
WB — Griffin 3 run (Davis kick).
WB — Musinski 13 pass from Vena
A — Wise 45 pass from Bednarik (Umstead kick).
WB — Campbell 32 pass from Vena
A — Jackson 7 pass from Bednarik (run failed).
WB — Campbell 27 pass from Vena
WB — Campbell 29 pass from Vena
WB — Griffin 5 pass from Vena (Davis kick).
WB — Outlaw 41 pass from DeLuise
A — Rodriguez 12 pass from Bednarik (pass failed).
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette: