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Albany's McCarty Enjoys Classic Classic
Career-best 271 rushing yards, 4 TDs pace UAlbany.
ALBANY — University at Albany junior tailback David McCarty put on his game face — literally — before the Gridiron Classic on Saturday, smearing eye black in menacing diagonal streaks across his cheeks.
McCarty, who plans to enlist in the Marines after he graduates next year, said it’s the same disguise that Marine Corps scout snipers wear in the field.
“If you know who the Marines are and what they’re about, you kind of a get a sense of why I did it,” McCarty explained. “They’re the meanest fighting force that we’ve got.”
McCarty had that same take-no-prisoners mentality on the field, rushing for a career-high 271 yards and four touchdowns as UAlbany pounded Jacksonville into submission in a 28-0 rout before 2,264 fans at chilly University Field.
McCarty ran for scores of 16, 1, 3 and 77 yards and the Northeast Conference champion Great Danes (9-3) ended their season on an eight-game winning streak.
UAlbany also gained some closure after losing at Dayton 42-21 in last year’s Gridiron Classic, which pits the NEC champion against the Pioneer Football League winner.
Head coach Bob Ford capped his 36th varsity season at UAlbany with his 234th career win, the most among active coaches in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision.
“I said to the squad that you want to put an exclamation point on a season, and that’s what we needed to do,” Ford said.
McCarty was named the game MVP after rushing for the second-most yards in UAlbany history, behind only Tom DeBlois’ 286 on Nov. 15, 1975, when the Great Danes were a Division III program.
McCarty, a La Salle Institute graduate, immediately gave his trophy to his offensive line, which bludgeoned the smaller Dolphins.
“They really do deserve it,” he said. “They’ve given me these awesome numbers.”
He finished the season with a program-record 1,852 rushing yards.
UAlbany junior free safety Dave Casale of Troy observed Jacksonville (9-4) seemed extremely uncomfortable in a game-time temperature of 34 degrees with 12 mile-per-hour winds.
“They were cold,” Casale said. “You could see them crossing their arms, trying to keep themselves warm before plays, and you’re not going to be successful when you’re doing that.”
The Great Danes set the tone from the outset as Justin Gannon returned the opening kickoff 44 yards to the Dolphins’ 47. The Great Danes offense covered the rest in six plays, culminating in McCarty’s 16-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 lead with just 2:36 elapsed.
Then Jacksonville lost 20 yards on its first three plays as UAlbany’s Mike Kelly and Chris Blais each had a sack.
The Great Danes defense posted its first shutout in two years against a Dolphins offense that was averaging 33.4 points entering the game.
“We really didn’t do anything that different,” senior safety Dave West said. “We came out with an attitude. It’s our last game of the year, and all the seniors were jacked up and came out ready to play.”
UAlbany had a 7-0 halftime lead that could have been much bigger if not for sloppy play that included McCarty’s first lost fumble of the year at the Jacksonville 4 with 13:17 remaining in the half.
The Great Danes finally gained breathing room in the third quarter, after junior quarterback Vinny Esposito threw a 30-yard completion to diving wide receiver Tim Bush at the Jacksonville 12. Three plays later, McCarty scored standing on a 1-yard run for a 14-0 lead with 4:19 remaining in the quarter.
“To be honest with you, I was kind of surprised they called (the pass) because it was second down,” said Bush, a senior from Saratoga Springs. “I thought it was going to be a touchdown, but either Espo underthrew it or the wind took it a little bit.”
Esposito completed 15 of 25 passes for 141 yards with two interceptions.
Jacksonville freshman quarterback Josh McGregor underthrew several passes and finished 10-for-25 for 113 yards and one interception. UAlbany also limited Dolphins running back Rudell Small, a 1,300-yard rusher, to 46 in 16 carries.
McCarty enjoys classic Classic
By Mark Singelais, The Albany Times-Union (NY)