Guilderland High School graduate Andrew Smith ran for two touchdowns and passed for another as University at Albany came from behind in the second half for a 41-24 Northeast Conference victory over Monmouth Saturday afternoon at Kessler Field.
The Great Danes remained in a tie for first place in the conference standings.
Monmouth (5-5, NEC 4-3) cashed in on a Jameson Zacharias’ interception during the first series on the second half to take a 17-14 lead. The Hawks moved seven plays for the go-ahead touchdown. Craig Peterson, who completed 32 of 49 passes for 296 yards and two scores, guided his team into position. Freshman Julian Hayes drove five yards over the left side and into the end zone.
UAlbany (7-3, NEC 6-1) responded with 27 unanswered points in regaining the lead. Herb Glass booted the first of two field goals to draw his team even. After the Great Danes’ defense forced a punt, Smith broke loose on a 62-yard touchdown scamper for a 24-17 margin with 1:36 remaining in the third period. Smith, who rushed for 131 yards on 14 carries, busted out on the right and raced up the sideline.
The Great Danes, who have won seven of their last eight contests, extended the lead to 31-17 early in the final stanza. Dan Di Lella, a senior quarterback, hit tailback Dillon
Romain in the left flat with a screen pass and the sophomore advanced up the sideline to finish off a 53-yard scoring play. The drive started when cornerback Leon Saddler picked off a Peterson pass.
UAlbany used special teams play to end its scoring outburst. With the Great Danes lined up for a punt at the Monmouth 44, Smith took a short snap and threw a jump-pass to Justinian Mason. The sophomore free safety caught the ball in the middle of the field and worked his way to paydirt. Glass added a 39-yard field goal with 3:08 left.
“We had big plays in all three phases of the game,” said UAlbany coach Bob Ford, whose team will play for the NEC championship and NCAA automatic berth next Saturday. “We couldn’t seem to get off the field [on defense] in the first half, but we went to a nickel package and that helped. I told our coaches we are in a ten-round fight and we just need to keep punching.”
Di Lella passed for a career-high 306 yards and two touchdowns. He became the first UAlbany quarterback to throw for 300-plus since 1997. Hayes rushed for 78 yards on 18 carries for the Hawks, who came into the contest tied for third in the conference standings.
UAlbany 7 7 10 17 — 41
Monmouth 3 7 7 7 — 24
Mon —Spillane 37 FG, 8:57.
Alb —D.Smith 1 run (Glass kick), 3:57.
Mon — McLafferty 6 pass from Peterson (Spillane kick), 11:04.
Alb — Parker 55 pass from Di Lella (Glass kick), 9:52.
Mon —Hayes 5 run (Spillane kick), 9:27.
Alb —Glass 23 FG, 5:12.
Alb — D.Smith 62 run (Glass kick), 1:36.
Alb —Romain 53 pass from Di Lella (Glass kick), 8:39.
Alb —Mason 44 pass from D.Smith (Glass kick), 6:35.
Alb — Glass 39 FG, 3:08.
Mon — Roberts 31 pass from Peterson (Spillane kick), 1:02.
First downs 21 24
Rushes-yards 33-189 31-89
Passing 350 296
Comp-Att-Int; 17-27-1 32-50-1
Return yards;12 18
Punts-Avg.; 1-38.0 5-31.4
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 4-25 3-15
Time of Possession 23:59 36:01
USMMA 31, RPI 24
TROY — Junior quarterback Alex Coviello rushed for 135 yards and threw for 164 yards and three touchdowns to lift the United States Merchant Marine Academy over the Engineers in the season finale for both teams.
The Mariners, who picked up their first win in Troy since 1960, move to 3-7 overall and 2-4 in the Liberty League, while the Engineers ended up 3-3 and 4-5.
RPI, which rallied with two fourth-quarter touchdowns, was led by junior quarterback Mike Hermann, who ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns.
USMMA 14 10 0 7 — 31
RPI 3 0 7 14 — 24
MMA — Dunn 21 pass from Coviello (Grennan kick).
RPI — Franks 29 FG.
MMA — Dunn 78 pass from Coviello (Grennan kick).
MMA — Grennan 35 FG.
MMA — Kennedy 29 pass from Coviello (Grennan kick).
RPI — Hermann 62 run (Franks kick).
MMA — Gosselin 1 run (Grennan kick).
RPI — Hermann 1 run (Franks kick).
RPI — Suld blocked punt return (Franks kick).
First downs 23 18
Rushes-yards 65-370 20-156
Passing yards 164 229
Comp-Att-Int. 5-7-0 23-37-0
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-1
Return yards 0 28
Punts-avg. 1-46.0 3-36.0
Penaltlies-yards 5-55 3-17