It has been 454 days since UAlbany's football program stepped onto the field to play. What seems like a lifetime ago, Albany is coming off their best season in program history. In 2019 the Great Danes went 9-5 including 6-2 in the CAA, they finished second in their conference, hosted their first FCS playoff game, won their first FCS playoff game versus Central Conn. St. They enter the 2020 season, which has been shortened to six games and started this month, with loads of expectations. Their season kicked off with a tough road game versus #14 New Hampshire Friday night. As expected after a long layoff there was rust from both teams. New Hampshire came out strong going 68 yards on their opening drive to take a 7-0 lead. Albany was able to capitalize on some penalties to answer right back on the ensuing drive. You could tell in the opening quarter that this game would take all three phases to pull out a win. This hard fought game between two ranked opponents came down to who took advantage of their opportunities. A blocked punt late in the second quarter that was recovered in the end zone giving New Hampshire a 14-7 advantage going into halftime. Albany who received the second half kickoff put back to back touchdown drives to take a 21-14 lead going into the 4th. Albany was able to tack on a field goal early in the 4th to take a 24-14 lead. The fourth quarter is where they really relied on all three phases of the game to hold onto the victory. Albany's defense, that played well all game, really stepped up in the 4th when they held New Hampshire scoreless on back to back red zone trips. Those stops were made possible by the Great Danes special teams, who had a few blunders, when they made a big time play, blocking an extra point attempt as Albany was clinging to 24-20 lead. New Hampshire, unsure of if they would get back to the red zone, went for the touchdown on back to back drives and the Great Danes defense were able to make plays to hold the lead and secure the victory. The old adage "a win, is a win" rang true with a game filled with rust, mistakes, penalties, but big time plays by all three phases when needed. Coach Gattuso stated as much "Every time we felt like we were getting a grasp of the game we made a big mistake, and they made some mistakes too. I think some of the penalties really hurt, but it was a battle of attrition. It's a good win for us". Albany survived their first game in 454 days with room for improvement. This team is uber talented and there is no doubt in my mind they will correct their mistakes, continue to develop, and gel as they try to make their road back to the FCS playoffs. For a young talented team these are the types of wins that can go a long way throughout the season.Check out the highlights from their big road win, including three touchdown passes from quarterback Jeff Undercuffler, below.
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