Gate Squeaks by Danes in Opener

Gate Squeaks by Danes in Opener

Bill Stoklosa

The Albany Great Danes came into Andy Kerr Stadium looking like the LSU Tigers in their yellow and purple uniforms, but their offensive performance was more reminiscent of Scooby-Doo than the vaunted Bayou Bengals. Colgate’s defense dominated Albany throughout the entire contest, as the Raiders overcame a lackluster offensive effort to secure a 13-11 victory over the Great Danes.

Things couldn’t have started out better for Colgate, as senior cornerback Cody Williams ran the opening kickoff back 87 yards to the Albany four.

“I really wasn’t expecting them to kick the ball to me, because from all the film that we had on them from last year they kicked to the left side of the field,” Williams said about his electrifying return. “So initially I was surprised and almost didn’t catch the ball. Then the rest of the credit goes on the shoulders of the other 10 guys on the return team because they did a great job blocking, and all I had to do was find the seam.”

After the return it took just one play, a four-yard run by junior running back Jordan Scott, to get into the endzone and give Colgate the early 7-0 lead. On the ensuing Albany possession, the Raider defense forced a three-and-out and took over on the Albany 28 after a ghastly eight-yard punt. Unfortunately, Colgate could not capitalize on the special teams gaffe and had to settle for a 36-yard field goal from senior Mike Buck.

After scoring 10 points in the span of roughly three minutes, it seemed as though the Raiders might coast to victory. However, the offense proved to be anemic for the remainder of the half, while Albany drove into Colgate territory on several occasions. However, the Great Danes only had three Jason Fralicker field goals to show for their efforts thanks to a stout Raiders defense.

Head Coach Dick Biddle was impressed by the performance of his defense.

“The coaches had the players prepared and the players played extremely hard out there,” Coach Biddle said.

Despite the efforts of the defense, the three field goals did give Albany an 11-10 advantage going into halftime, but it didn’t take long for Colgate to get back on top once the second half commenced.

After Albany botched yet another punt less than a minute into the half, Colgate took over at the Great Danes’ 15-yard line. The Raiders drove to the two and Colgate got another Mike Buck field goal to take a 13-11 lead. The rest of the second half consisted of strong defensive play and missed kicks by both teams. Senior safety Andre Dawson’s fourth quarter interception was one of many strong defensive plays that helped Colgate hang on to its narrow advantage. Colgate’s offense finally came back to life on the last drive of the game with a 33-yard pass from junior quarterback Alex Relph to sophomore wideout Pat Simonds and 49 yards rushing by Scott. Scott’s 44th carry of the game was a 13-yard rush for a first down that sealed the 13-11 victory. The Hyattsville, Maryland native saw a tremendous amount of work on the day, piling up a whopping 44 carries for an impressive 180 yards.

The passing game was another story, with starter, junior Anthony Fucillo getting pulled during the third quarter after going 4-9 with just 31 yards passing. His replacement Relph, who will start against UMass on Saturday, didn’t fair much better by going 2-6 with 37 yards. Coach Biddle didn’t just blame the quarterback for the team’s passing woes.

“People tend to hang it all on the quarterback when things go poorly, but both quarterbacks were under duress all day,” Biddle said. “Many of the issues we had were due to protection problems.” Certainly the five sacks and several more hurries played a substantial role in the Raiders’ inability to pass effectively.

In the surprise of the century, senior Mike Gallihugh once again led the Raiders in tackles with 11 while fellow senior Ryan Keller was not far behind with 10. Sophomore linebacker Greg Hadley and sophomore defensive tackle Carlton Walker also had solid days with six tackles apiece. Hadley led Colgate with two tackles for a loss.

Colgate will play again this Saturday at home against Massachusetts. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. UMass is ranked second in Division 1-FCS and was national runner-up last year, so Colgate will need its offense to step up and get another strong effort from their defense and special teams to have a shot. It will be a difficult game for the Raiders to win, but after last Saturday’s Appalachian State-Michigan game, any result will not be surprising.