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UAlbany Football Loses To Colgate In Season Opener

Courtesy UAlbany Athletics

The UAlbany football team suffered a heart-breaking loss in their season opener on Saturday night.

Nate Eachus scored on a one-yard run in overtime to lift Colgate to a 37-34 victory over the Great Danes at Andy Kerr Stadium in Hamilton.

UAlbany grabbed a 34-31 lead in the extra period when Herb Glass booted a 41-yard field goal. The Raiders moved seven plays for the winning points. The key play came on third-and-10 at the 25-yard line. Quarterback Gavin McCarney, while falling down, found Dan Basil crossing to the sideline for 14 yards and a first down. Eachus, a Walter Payton Award candidate who rushed for 165 yards on 36 carries, ran four consecutive times to finish the drive.

Colgate rallied after the intermission to draw even at 31 apiece. The Raiders went 95 yards in 12 plays the first time they touched the ball. McCarney beat the blitz with a 44-yard pass to Eachus to set up the drive. The sophomore quarterback went the final four yards over left tackle. Safety Chad Frey later picked off UAlbany reserve quarterback Buddy Leathley at the Colgate two-yard line. The Raiders turned that turnover into a 24-yard field goal by Joe Uglietto.

UAlbany drove into Colgate territory midway through the final quarter. But on third down, Di Lella threw into double coverage and Mike Armiento came up with the interception at the six-yard line. The Raiders marched 14 plays for the winning field goal attempt, but Uglietto missed a 32-yarder to the right.

In a second quarter that produced plenty of offense with big plays, Colgate took a 21-17 lead when McCarney flipped a two-yard scoring pass to tight end CJ Stempeck. McCarney, who completed 17 of 24 passes for 210 yards and two TDs, plus added 114 yards and two scores on the ground. The Great Danes regrouped by reaching the end zone on their next two possessions.

Di Lella, a 6-foot-5 quarterback who passed for a career-high 239 yards on 17 of 28 passing, hit a streaking Ben Carl in the middle of the field on a 37-yard completion. Ben Miseikis, one of five tailbacks UAlbany used in the half, rumbled through the Raider defense for a 19-yard touchdown. After the Great Danes held Colgate on its next series, Di Lella threw a 12-yard completion to tailback Andrew Smith to midfield. A wacky play ended the period, when the senior’s intended pass was broken up by free safety Jordan McCord. But the ball bounded into the air and UAlbany receiver Kevin Chillis hauled in the deflection and raced to paydirt for a 50-yard touchdown.

UAlbany took a 10-7 lead in the second period, as Smith scored on a 5-yard run. The Raiders went back in front when McCarney rifled a 49-yard strike to Dan Cason. The series was set up by Jimmy De Cicco’s kickoff return. Leathley and tailback Dillon Romain then hooked up a 75-yard screen pass for a 17-14 UAlbany advantage. Romain broke a tackle in the middle of the field, jumped a pile and broke free from the pack.

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