The University of Rhode Island spoiled both University at Albany’s first game on the new Bob Ford Field and the Great Danes’ Colonial Athletic Association debut.
But at least the game was exciting, right down to the end.
Justin Semmes scored on a one-yard run in overtime to lift the Rams to a 19-13 win over the Great Danes before a sellout crowd that exceeded the listed attendance of 8,500. UAlbany officials said the number was close to 11,000.
UAlbany rallied from a 13-0 deficit, but kicking-game woes really hurt the Great Danes’ cause. Tom O’Riordan had a chance to win the game with 1:35 left in regulation, but his 33-yard field goal sailed wide left. O’Riordan also had a PAT blocked, and his 27-yard field goal with 6:34 remaining was also blocked.
“We played better in the second half,” said UAlbany head coach Bob Ford. “We did have some troubles with our kicking game. We fumbled one punt and had two field goals blocked, but one of those blocked field goals was my fault, because I sent our guy out there without much time. The other time, our guard just got overpowered by their defense.”
Ford said he didn’t look around the field to see how many people were on hand, but he knew it was a huge crowd.
“It was a great turnout, but you look like a hot dog if you look around trying to see the crowd,” he said with a laugh.
“The crowd couldn’t get really excited about much in the first half. Heck, it was 6-0 at the half, and I almost fell asleep myself.”
URI, which was picked for last in the CAA preseason coaches’ poll — just behind UAlbany — had lost 15 straight games, including the first two this season. But the Rams did all the scoring in the first half.
Dylan Smith boomed a 45-yard field goal with 9:36 remaining in the first quarter, and after the Rams failed to score on a fake field-goal attempt from the UAlbany seven-yard line late in the first quarter, they got on the board again with another Smith field goal, with just 16 seconds left in the first half.
Both teams struggled offensively in the first 30 minutes, with URI gaining just 166 total yards and UAlbany compiling only 122.
When Cameron Lewis fumbled a punt return early in the third quarter, the Rams had a golden opportunity to punch it in. Quarterback Bob Bentsen scored on a three-yard keeper, and Smith tacked on the PAT for a 13-0 advantage with 8:14 left in the quarter.
But the Great Danes showed some resiliency on their next drive. Junior QB Will Fiacchi hit three big passes, including a 25-yarder to Jake Meek down the middle to set up Omar Osbourne’s 10-yard run. O’Riordan’s PAT was blocked.
After the UAlbany defense forced the Rams to go three-and-out on their next series, the Danes put together their best drive of the night, a 77-yard drive that included three big passes from Fiacchi before Meek scored on a 17-yard run. This time, O’Riordan made the kick to knot the score at 13-13 as the third period expired.
UAlbany got the better of the fourth quarter, but the two missed field-goal tries were costly.
“It was a little frustrating in the first half. Our guys kept trying, but URI did a good job against us,” Fiacchi said.
“It was upsetting that we couldn’t get a win for our fans, but the atmosphere was just awesome.”
“Offensively, we struggled moving the ball in the first half. We were only 5-for-15 throwing the ball, and we didn’t run the ball much better,” said Ford.
“But our defense played its best game so far. It would have been really nice to win this game, but nobody intentionally gets intercepted or fumbles the ball.”
Osbourne, who ran for a career-high 252 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win over Colgate, led the Great Danes with 96 yards. Kevin Chillis, who had a 53-yard run on a reverse, was next with 77 yards on three carries, while Meek
finished with 55 rushing yards.
Fiacchi was 17-for-36 for 181 yards and an interception. Jameel Gay caught seven passes for 96 yards.
Semes led URI with 73 yards rushing. Bentsen was 16-for-27 for 136 yards.
Rhode Island 3 3 7 0 6 — 19
Albany (NY) 0 0 13 0 0 — 13
URI—FG Smith 45, 9:36.
URI—FG Smith 36, :16.
URI—Bentsen 3 run (Smith kick), 8:14.
Alb—Osbourne 10 run (kick blocked), 5:47.
Alb—Meek 17 run (O’Riordan kick), :00.
URI—Semmes 1 run (kick failed).
First downs 17 23
Rushes-yards 53-140 42-216
Passing 136 194
Comp-Att-Int 6-27-0 18-37-1
Return Yards 1 (-3)
Punts-Avg. 8-40.0 5-37.2
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-2
Penalties-Yards 5-46 7-58
Time of Possession 32:44 27:10
RUSHING—Rhode Island, Semmes 19-73, Delgado 11-29, Bentsen 12-22, Wynn 3-20, Peavey 1-2, Sebastian 4-1, Ibrahim 3-(minus 7). Albany, Osbourne 22-96, Chillis
3-77, Meek 11-49, Fiacchi 6-(minus 6).
PASSING—Rhode Island, Bentsen 16-27-0-136. Albany, Fiacchi 17-36-1-181, Meek
RECEIVING—Rhode Island, Jackson 3-45, Delgado 3-(minus 4), Matos 2-33, Sebastian 2-0, Kim 1-21, Favreau 1-17, Semmes 1-8, Gross 1-7, Wynn 1-6, Ibrahim 1-3. Albany, Gay 7-96, Chillis 4-22, King 2-26, Parker 2-24, Osbourne 2-1, Meek 1-25.