University at Albany grabbed the momentum on one gutsy play.
Already trailing, 7-0, and setting up to punt from their own 23-yard line after their first possession of the game gained nothing, the Great Danes stunned Monmouth with a 77-yard fake-punt reverse for a touchdown by Kevin Chillis.
The Hawks never recovered, and the Great Danes continued to strike for numerous big plays on the way to a convincing 55-24 victory Saturday on University Field.
UAlbany, the defending co-champion of the Northeast Conference, improved to 2-0 and 4-1, while Monmouth, considered the top threat to unseat the Great Danes for the conference title, dropped to 2-1 and 3-2.
“That fake punt was definitely the key play of the game,” said Chillis, who also caught a 44-yard TD pass from Will Fiacchi later in the one-sided contest. “We practiced it all week, and coach Ford told us we were going to run it no matter what. I got to the edge after a few good blocks, including one by Omar Osbourne, and then I made a couple of guys miss.
“We weren’t surprised that we ran the play, but we were definitely surprised when we ran it. It was a big momentum play for us.”
Ford nodded in agreement.
“We ran the play because I thought we could do it,” he said. “Besides, I’m 75 years old, and I can do anything I want to do. It was obviously a huge play for us, and a huge swing in the game. At times, we played lights-out today — as good as we can play.”
The Great Danes were explosive on offense and stingy on defense. Besides the fake-punt play, they also capitalized on several other quick-strike scores. Fiacchi tossed an 81-yard TD bomb to Ryan Kirchner, Guilderland product Drew Smith broke loose for a 61-yard run and Presley Beauvais galloped for a 67-yard run.
The Great Danes piled up 511 yards of total offense and held Monmouth to just 53 yards on the ground. The Great Danes also intercepted Monmouth quarterback Kyle Frazier three times.
“It was just one of those days,” said Kirchner, who caught five passes for 122 yards. “Some days, it’s three plays and a cloud of dust for us. But we have a lot of speed on this team, and speed kills.”
“It’s remarkable,” added Smith, who finished with three touchdowns on the afternoon. “We’re just clicking on all cylinders right now, and we have a lot of weapons.”
Ford was pleased with how all of his Great Danes played against one of the perennial league powers.
“For a period of time, it was a pretty good game, but then we
exploded,” he said. “But they helped us with three picks. You only have about 12 possessions per game, and if the other team gives away three of them, it certainly helps you out.
“We’re doing a great job right now of moving the ball on the ground and through the air. And we converted 11 of 18 third downs, which is a great job against one of the best teams in the nation on third-down defense. We were well-prepared for them.”
The Great Danes travel to Bryant Saturday at 1.
Monmouth 7 3 14 0 — 24
UAlbany 21 3 10 21 — 55
Mon—George 24 pass from Frazier (Spillane kick), 9:51.
Alb—Chillis 77 run (Kenny kick), 8:55.
Alb—Kirchner 81 pass from Fiacchi
(Kenny kick), 7:02.
Alb—D.Smith 61 run (Kenny kick), 1:27.
Alb—FG Kenny 18, 8:47.
Mon—FG Spillane 38, 6:15.
Alb—D.Smith 4 run (Kenny kick), 11:08.
Alb—FG Kenny 49, 6:57.
Mon—Sterling 38 pass from Frazier (Spillane kick), 4:10.
Mon—Hayes 1 run (Spillane kick), 1:19.
Alb—Chillis 44 pass from Fiacchi (Kenny kick), 14:55.
Alb—D.Smith 7 run (Kenny kick), 7:20.
Alb—Beauvais 67 run (Kenny kick), 1:24.
First downs 17 23
Rushes-yards 25-53 46-263
Passing yards 274 248
Comp-Att-Int 33-52-3 16-30-0
Return yards 0 50
Punts-avg 7-35.4 3-32.3
Fumbles-lost 0-0 3-2
Penalties-yards 7-65 5-30
Time of possession 28:54 31:06