Despite an outstanding passing performance from junior quarterback Will Fiacchi, University at Albany trailed throughout their season opener and fell to host Duquesne University, 35-24, Saturday afternoon at Rooney Field.
“I think it’s one thing to not play well, its another thing to not play sharp,” said head coach Bob Ford. “Even very average athletes can play intelligently, and I don’t think we did that.
“At the same time, Jerry [Schmitt] and his staff and squad have always played us the same. They’ve always played us very, very hard and I take my hat off to them,” added Ford.
The Great Danes totaled 421 yards of offense, including 354 passing yards. Fiacchi completed 27 of 45 passes with one interception and two touchdown tosses to senior Kevin Chillis, who caught a team-high nine receptions. Presley Beauvais (41 yards) and Cole King (31 yards) each had four catches, and Jameel Gay (64 yards) and Omar Osbourne (16) had three apiece.
On the ground, Osbourne, taking over for the graduated Drew Smith, carried the ball 21 times for a total of 79 yards and one touchdown.
Defensively, Alex Helmer’s 11 tackles, including eight unassisted, led the Danes.
Michael Nicastro also stood out with seven tackles, including 21⁄2 for a loss and 11⁄2 sacks, while Andrew Smith also had 11⁄2 sacks and two tackles for a loss.
While UAlbany’s revamped kicking game was an area of concern coming into the contest, punter Jonathan Martin and kicker Tom O’Riordan served as highlights. Martin punted four times, averaging 48.8 yards, including two over 50-yards and two that pinned the Dukes within the 20-yard line. Also making his debut donning purple and gold, O’Riordan was 1-for-1 for field goals and 3-for-3 for point-after attempts.
UAlbany fell behind on its first possession after Chillis took the opening kick to the 13-yard line. The Danes tried to rush it out of dangerous territory, but Duquesne’s Aaron Reed and the defensive line suffocated the run, resulting in a safety with just 19 ticks off the clock.
The Dukes added a touchdown with 9:35 remaining in the first quarter, led by freshman quarterback Dillon Buechel, who completed three consecutive passes, including an 81-yarder to Dave Thomas, putting the Dukes on the two-yard line. Running back Ryan Ho took two attempts, but pushed his way across the goal line, giving Duquesne a 9-0 head start.
Trailing 16-3, the Great Danes cut the deficit to six as Chillis caught a 35-yard scoring strike from Fiacchi.Later, Osbourne’s two-yard run cut the deficit to 29-24, but, Duquesne clinched the victory with Austin Crimmins’ 22-yard field goal.
Buechel finished the game 21-for-28, totaling 309 passing yards and two touchdowns.
UAlbany 3 7 7 7 — 24
Duquesne 9 7 16 3 — 35
Duq—Ho 1 run (Crimmins kick), 9:35.
Alb—FG O'Riordan 39, 2:09.
Duq—Ho 25 run (Crimmins kick), 3:45.
Alb—Chillis 35 pass from Fiacchi (O'Riordan kick), :22.
Duq—Brady 27 pass from Buechel (Crimmins kick), 11:03.
Duq—Carter 29 pass from Buechel (kick failed), 10:03.
Alb—Chillis 35 pass from Fiacchi (O'Riordan kick), 7:56.
Duq—FG Crimmins 30, 4:35.
Alb—Osbourne 2 run (O'Riordan kick), 6:33.
Duq—FG Crimmins 22, 1:04.
First downs 20 17
Rushes-yards 30-67 38-89
Passing 354 309
Comp-Att-Int; 28-47-2 21-28-0
Return yards 5 24
Punts-avg. 4-48.8 7-33.3
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-yards 9-80 4-29
Time of possession 28:06 31:54