UNION, N.J. (9/1/12) – Albright College closed the game with 22 unanswered points to rally past #14 Kean University, 29-26, in the season opener for both teams on Saturday evening at Kean Alumni Stadium.
Tonight's game was one of eight match-ups between the Middle Atlantic Conference and the New Jersey Athletic Conference, billed as the MAC-NJAC Challenge.
For the Lions (1-0), senior running back Ty Hughes scored three times and carried the ball 37 times for 142 yards in the win. Kean senior wide receiver Deandre Fowlkes made three receptions for 96 yards and two touchdowns, while senior inside linebacker Dan Wollman made a game-high 16 tackles, including 10 solo stops.
The two teams managed only four first downs combined on each of their first three possessions, before Albright took a 7-0 lead late in the first half, capitalizing on a bad snap on the Cougars' punt attempt back near their own goal line. Three plays later, Hughes carried the ball in from two yards out and the Jordan Loiodice extra point attempt was good for the 7-0 lead with 1:48 remaining.
On the kickoff, Fowlkes appeared to return the kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown, however the Kean holding penalty brought the ball back into its own territory at the 18-yard line, where the Cougars only managed three plays before being forced to punt the ball.
In the second quarter, the Cougars got on the scoreboard after junior quarterback Christian Bailoni completed back-to-back passes to senior Louis Hayes (23 yards) and Fowlkes, with Fowlkes scoring on the 43-yard reception with 11:22 remaining in the half. Albright hung on to the one-point lead at 7-6 after junior Eric Wade blocked the extra point attempt.
The Cougars took the lead two possessions later when Bailoni completed the 54-yard touchdown reception to Fowlkes on the first play of the drive, as Kean led 13-7 after the extra-point by junior Bill Cullen.
Kean extended the lead to 19-7 just before halftime after senior defensive back Chris VanFechtmann made an interception on fourth down at the Kean 20-yard line and senior running back Darius Kinney took the first play of the ensuing drive 80-yards for the rushing touchdown and the 12-point lead after the blocked extra point.
Kinney opened the second half with a 72-yard kickoff return to the Albright 20-yard line to set-up a 10-yard touchdown by senior fullback Danny Mendoza off the shuffle pass from Bailoni on the third play of the third quarter, as the Cougars took a 26-7 lead just 72 seconds into the half following the extra point by Cullen.
After the Cougars forced Albright to punt after five plays on the Lions' first possession of the second half, Kean moved the ball back into Albright territory, before Albright sophomore Chris Stephens intercepted the Bailoni pass at the Lions' 21-yard line mid-way through the quarter.
The Lions used 16 plays and the remaining 7:53 of the quarter to move the ball 74 yards, as Hughes carried the ball 10 times on the possession for 40 yards, including the final four plays of the drive for 11 yards, punching the ball in from one-yard out to pull the Lions to within 26-14 following the extra point from Loiodice.
Kean managed a first down on the first play of the fourth quarter, however the Lions forced the Cougars to punt after four plays and took over at their own 37-yard line. On the ensuing drive, Hughes carried the ball three times for 17 yards and quarterback Adam Galczybski completed all three of his passes for 41 yards, including a 27-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Daniel McNair with 10:06 remaining in the game, as the Lions pulled to within 26-21 following the extra point.
The Cougars once again recorded a first down following a 10-yard carry by Kinney on the first play of the drive, however the Albright defense again forced Kean to punt after four plays, with the Lions taking over near mid-field with 8:28 remaining in the game.
Albright kept the ball on the ground for eight of the possession's 10 plays, as Hughes carried the ball all eight times and used three straight one-yard carries to break into the endzone after a nearly five and a half minute possession that gave Albright the lead. The Lions went for two and after a Kean holding penalty, Galczynski took the ball into the endzone untouched on the bootleg for the 29-26 lead with 3:10 remaining.
Fowlkes returned the kickoff to the Kean 33-yard line, however the Cougars only managed two yards before turning the ball over on downs with 2:04 left in the game. After a Kean timeout on the first play of the Albright drive, a Cougar penalty gave Albright an automatic first down and the Lions were able to run out the clock to seal the win.
For the Cougars, Bailoni completed 11-of-22 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start, while Haynes caught four receptions for 74 yards. Kinney had 16 carries for 127 yards and one touchdown, while adding the 72-yard kickoff return. Fowlkes finished with four kick-off returns for 93 yards.
Defensively, Wollman had two tackles for a six-yard loss, while sophomore linebacker Matt Clerk added nine tackles and sophomore Billy Damiana and senior Brad Higgins each added eight tackles.
In the victory, Galczynski came off the bench and completed 7-of-8 passes for 83 yards and one touchdown. McNair made six receptions for 68 yards and senior Scott Pillar added five catches for 23 yards. With his 142 rushing yards and 37 carries, Hughes helped the Lions control nearly 39 minutes of the game on offense.
Junior defensive end Tyler Hamlet led the balanced defensive effort with five tackles, including four solo stops and two tackles for a 12 yard loss.
The Cougars travel to #4 University of Mary Hardin-Baylor on Saturday, September 8, for the Crusaders season opener in Belton, Texas. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. (eastern time).