‘A familiar tune’ as UAlbany football drops to 0-7 after fifth one-score loss of the season

UAlbany's Karl Mofor, pictured Oct. 16 against Villanova, ran for 113 yards and a touchdown on Saturday during the Great Danes' 19-16 loss to Maine.

UAlbany's Karl Mofor, pictured Oct. 16 against Villanova, ran for 113 yards and a touchdown on Saturday during the Great Danes' 19-16 loss to Maine.

ALBANY — It was the kind of sequence that wrapped up UAlbany football’s winless start this season in a tidy bundle.

Midway through the first quarter of Saturday’s 19-16 loss to Maine at Tom & Mary Casey Stadium, the UAlbany defense stonewalled Maine’s Zavier Scott on a run off left tackle, which would have left the Black Bears facing a third-and-21.

But, then came the flag.

UAlbany linebacker AJ Mistler was penalized for targeting when he lunged in to hit Scott at the end of the play. Just like that, third-and-21 turned into first-and-10, and Mistler was disqualified from the game to boot.

“It’s a bad penalty. There’s no way around it,” UAlbany coach Greg Gattuso said. “[Maine’s] not going to make a play there. They’re going to hold it and punt. That’s a gut-punch for a defense when you get into a situation like that.”

Maine turned its second chance on that drive into a touchdown, a neat summation of all the struggles the Great Danes (0-5 CAA, 0-7 overall) have experienced this season. 

Week after week, UAlbany has put itself into close games, and week after week a couple of crucial mistakes have doomed the Great Danes’ chances. All five of the team’s CAA losses this season have come by seven points or fewer.

“You’ve seen the scores of the games,” UAlbany running back Karl Mofor said. “It’s not difficult to see that if a couple plays went our way, this season’s different and everybody’s smiling and laughing.”

“It’s a familiar tune, unfortunately,” Gattuso said.

The targeting penalty wasn’t the only error that stood in between UAlbany and victory on Saturday.

Just before that call, UAlbany’s promising first offensive drive was scuttled when a high snap led to a fumbled handoff between Jeff Undercuffler and Mofor that Maine recovered.

Then, as the Great Danes tried to mount a late drive trailing by three in the fourth quarter, a wide receiver screen to Roy Alexander that would’ve gotten UAlbany’s offense off to a rolling start was negated by a holding penalty on tight end Thomas Greaney. Put back behind the sticks, UAlbany turned the ball over on downs with 2:37 to play and never got the ball back.

“Again, it’s a critical error,” Gattuso said. “Our critical errors are at terrible times.”

After the fumble on UAlbany’s first drive, Undercuffler was lifted in favor of backup Joey Carino, who led the Great Danes from the last play of the first quarter until Undercuffler was brought back in with 38 seconds left in the third.

Carino made his return to the offense after he was limited to his duties as a holder on field goals and extra points last week against Villanova after suffering an injury Oct. 9 against William & Mary.

“I would’ve liked to be a little bit more aggressive with him with some of our playcalls, but he’s still not 100%,” Gattuso said.

Down 13-3, Undercuffler proceeded to lead UAlbany on a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives. He connected with LJ Wesneski on a 15-yard scoring strike to make it a 13-9 game, and after Maine responded with a quick touchdown drive to go back up by 10, Undercuffler again marched UAlbany back down the field before Mofor plunged in from the 2 on a fourth down with 4:14 to play.

“Coming back in that game, I just told my brothers that this game isn’t over,” Undercuffler said. “We’ve just got to keep chopping and keep going.”

“That’s how [Undercuffler] has to come out and play for four quarters,” Gattuso said. “Quit worrying about everything else and let’s go play football.”

Mofor topped the 100-yard mark as a rusher for the second time this season, carrying the ball 25 times for 113 yards, while also ending as UAlbany’s leading receiver with 41 yards on five catches. Undercuffler was 7 of 14 for 99 yards and Carino was 6 of 13 for 52 yards in a passing game that was disrupted by crucial drops at multiple junctures.

Derek Robertson threw for 182 yards and a touchdown, and Freddie Brock added a 20-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter for Maine (2-3, 3-4).

For a frustrated UAlbany program, the quest to finally put a mark in the win column now moves to next Saturday’s road game against Towson.

“People are apologizing and saying sorry about how the season’s going,” Mofor said. “I’m always here to better the team, better what it’s going to be next year. If this season is a lesson for us to know what we have to do next year, then it’ll be worth it at the end.”

Maine 10 3 0 6 — 19

UAlbany 0 3 0 13 — 16

M — Messina 39 field goal

M — Petrick 15 pass from Robertson (Messina kick)

M — Messina 41 field goal

UA — Burns 28 field goal

UA — Wesneski 15 pass from Undercuffler (kick failed)

M — Brock 20 run (pass failed)

UA — Mofor 2 run (Burns kick)

Categories: College Sports, Sports

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