ALBANY — The University at Albany’s football team made a lot of silly mistakes in its home opener with the University of New Hampshire, but the Great Danes still made things very interesting before dropping a 28-23 Colonial Athletic Association matchup to the Wildcats Saturday night at Tom and Mary Casey Stadium.
The Great Danes were penalized way too often, especially on several offensive series to give away scoring opportunities, and a muffed punt return set up one of UNH’s touchdowns.
Still, the Great Danes clawed back from a 28-16 deficit to pull within five points following a pair of TD passes from Reese Poffenbarger to Thomas Greaney. UAlbany (0-1 CAA, 0-2 overall) got the ball back with 10 seconds left for one final Hail Mary play, but Poffenbarger’s pass from his own 15-yard line fell incomplete.
“I’m very disappointed in the first half,” said UAlbany head coach Greg Gattuso, whose Great Danes lost their season opener to Baylor 69-10 last week. “We’ve also got to be a lot better on special teams. We’ve got to do a lot better catching the ball. That play was the difference in the game.”
“It wasn’t what they were doing on defense that stopped us in the first half,” added Poffenbarger of the UNH defense. “I don’t think we were ready for their speed, and we made too many mistakes. Obviously, this isn’t the way we wanted our home opener to go, but we’ve got to put this game behind us.”
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New Hampshire (2-0 CAA and overall) used a pair of long, time-consuming drives to score a couple of first-half touchdowns.
Joey Corcoran caught a 2-yard TD pass from Max Brosmer to complete a 12-play, 88-yard drive late in the first quarter.
Dylan Laube, who rushed for a career-best 202 yards and three scores, extended the Wildcats’ lead to 14-0 with a 2-yard run that completed an 11-play, 75-yard drive with 4:35 left in the half.
The Great Danes moved the ball well behind the running of Todd Sibley and some clutch passes from Poffenberger during the first half, but they couldn’t capitalize until late.
The Danes finally got on the board just before the half when John Opalka kicked a 36-yard field goal to cap a 15-play, 76-yard drive. Poffenbarger completed three key passes on the drive, two of them to tight end Greaney for 31 yards and another to Julian Hicks for 14 more yards.
Laube’s 9-yard TD run in the third quarter put the Wildcats ahead 21-3, but Sibley’s brilliant cut against the grain resulted in a 15-yard TD run for UAlbany to slice the deficit to 21-10.
Laube’s 20-yard run gave UN a 28-16 lead with 1:49 to go, and it proved to be just enough to hold off the Great Danes.
Sibley ran for 105 yards, and Poffenbarger completed 18 of 27 passes for 264 yards to lead the Great Danes.
New Hampshire 7 7 7 7 — 28
UAlbany 0 3 7 13 — 23
UNH — Corcoran 2 pass from Brosmer (Mazzie kick)
UNH — Laube 2 run (Mazzie kick)
UA — Opalka 36 FG
UNH — Laube 9 run (Mazzie kick)
UA — Sibley 15 run (Opalko kick)
UA — Greanley 29 pass from Poffenbarger (Opalko kick)
UNH — Laube 20 run (Mazzie kick)
UA — Greanley 10 pass from Poffenbarger (pass failed)