University at Albany’s final football game on University Field will be meaningful in many ways, but it still might not give head coach Bob Ford that warm and fuzzy feeling he was hoping for.
When the Great Danes host Central Connecticut State University today at 1, it will be the final home game for 21 seniors and the last Northeast Conference matchup for UAlbany, which heads to the Colonial Athletic Association in 2013. UAlbany also begins play in the new 8,000-seat Bob Ford Field next fall.
But even if the Great Danes beat the Blue Devils today, they can’t guarantee themselves their most important prize — sole possession of the NEC championship.
UAlbany is 6-1 in the NEC and 8-2 overall. The Great Danes are tied with Wagner (6-1, 7-3) for first place. But if Wagner defeats Duquesne, the Seahawks win the league title, based on their 30-0 victory over UAlbany a couple of weeks ago. That game not only knocked UAlbany out of sole possession of first place, but also bounced them out of the national rankings. They were 18th in the FCS Coaches Poll and 20th in Sports Network Top 25 at the time.
The only way the Great Danes can capture sole possession of the NEC title and return to the NCAA playoffs for the second straight year is to win, and then have Wagner lose to the Dukes.
UAlbany is led by senior tailback Drew Smith (Guilderland), who needs only one more touchdown to become the program’s all-time leader in that category with 43. He is also second in career rushing with 3,131 yards.
Sophomore quarterback Will Fiacchi, in his first year as the starter, has completed 175 of 292 passes for 1,914 yards and has been intercepted just four times.
Senior linebacker Jon Morgan has 260 career tackles and needs just one to move into eighth place on the all-time list. If he makes 11 or more tackles, he moves past his linebacker coach, Don Mion, on the team’s all-time list.
Dave Plunges has 241 career tackles and needs 12 to move into the team’s all-time top 10.
CCSU is 2-4 in the NEC And 2-7 overall.
Besides Smith, Morgan and Plunges, the rest of the graduating senior class includes defensive lineman Ocieka Bakou, offensive lineman Anthony Bazzoffi, tight end Matt Berwager, tight end Paul Booker, linebacker Chris Bouchard, safety Mike Brown, defensive lineman John Cunningham, tight end Matt Goss, offensive lineman Joe Hoback, wideout Nick Hutcherson, kicker Sean Kenny, wideout Ryan Kirchner, defensive lineman Dean Mercuris, offensive lneman Jordan Migliore, tailback Ben Miseikis, wideout Nate Papso, corner back Leon Saddler and linebacker Chris Wilk.