Baner's Field Goal Gives Blue Hens Thrilling 33-30 Victory over Albany as Time Expires
NEWARK, Del. -- University of Delaware senior kicker Sean Baner found redemption in a big way Saturday afternoon as his 42-yard field goal as time expired sent the Blue Hens to a thrilling 33-30 Colonial Athletic Association football victory over Albany at Delaware Stadium.
Baner, who has struggled all season and had missed two extra points and two field goals earlier in the day, was perfect when he needed to be as he split the uprights to set off a wild celebration and send the Homecoming crowd of 17,363 home happy.
Delaware (5-2, 2-1 CAA), which bounced back from a 62-28 setback at Maine a week ago, remained unbeaten at home this season with a perfect 5-0 record. Albany (1-6, 0-3 CAA), a first-year member of the CAA, dropped its fifth straight outing despite a solid effort.
"This was a hard-fought game and we are very excited that it turned out the way it did," said first-year Delaware head coach Dave Brock. "We had some tough situations that we overcame and found a way to win. Its a telling sign of a team that has the chance to be a very good team. We had the opportunity to see a lot of good things in our players in terms of executing in end of the game situations. We were able to turn some negatives into positives."
Down 30-22 with 3:18 left to play, the Blue Hens put together an impressive rally, tying the game on a 20-yard scoring pass from Trent Hurley to Rob Jones followed by a two-point conversion pass from Hurley to Michael Johnson with 1:42 left to play.
After Delaware's defense held Albany to just a single yard on its next possession, including a sack by Derrick Saulsberry on first down, the Blue Hens got the ball back on a punt and mounted the winning 38-yard drive. A 22-yard toss from Hurley to a leaping Johnson and a nine-yard run by Andrew Pierce (above left) put the ball on the Albany 25-yard line. After Albany called two timeouts, Baner calmly nailed the game-winner.
"This is a great feeling, knowing your teammates are relying on you and you can win it for them" said Baner, who earned first team All-CAA honor as a sophomore in 2011. "My confidence level was high when I went out there. My year hasn't been that great, but in warmups I was kicking well. This is what I'm supposed to do. Without the offense and defense doing their jobs, I wouldn't have had the chance. They put me in a great position to make a winnable kick."
The win marked the first time since 1986 that the Blue Hens won on the final play of regulation. Delaware posted a 33-31 victory over West Chester in 1986 at Delaware Stadium on a three-yard run by Fred Singleton as a time expired. It was the first game won a field goal in the final moments by Delaware since Mike Perry nailed a 28-yard field goal with three seconds left for a 13-10 win over James Madison in 2010.
Hurley completed 20 of 34 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown while Pierce recorded his 20th career 100-yard effort, running for 120 yards and two touchdowns. Jones caught three passes for 24 yards and a touchdown and galloped 71 yards for a score - the longest run by a Blue Hen player since 2003 - in the third quarter.
Albany, coming off consecutive one-sided losses to Old Dominion (66-10) and James Madison (40-13), was led by RB Omar Osbourne, who rushed for 142 yards and three touchdowns, including a 21-yard run with 3:18 left that had put the Great Danes up 30-22.
The Great Danes jumped out to a 10-7 lead on a 33-yard field goal by Tom O'Riordan and a one-yard dive by Osbourne but the Hens came back to take a 16-10 lead into halftime as Pierce scored on runs of six and four yards and Baner converted a 23-yard field goal.
Delaware had the chance to tackl on more points after Travis Hawkins returned an interception 66 yards down to the Albany three-yard line with one second left in the opening half. Delaware decided to go for the touchdown but came up empty when Hurley's pass attempt to TE Nick Boyle was incomplete to end the half.
Osbourne's four-yard run late in the third quarter gave Albany a 17-16 lead but the Hens regained the margin at 22-17 on his 71-yard dash down the left sideline on the end-around.
Albany got the lead back again in the final stanza as a 12-yard scoring pass from QB Will Fiacchi to Nic Ketter with 10:09 left and Osbourne's 21-yard dash on fourth down with 3:18 remaining upped the lead to 30-22.
But Delaware fought back once again. The Hens drove 57 yards on five plays to tie the game up as Hurley sat back in the pocket and found Jones (at left) streaking across the back of the end zone on a 20-yard scoring pass. Hurley then hit Johnson (above right) on a fade pattern to the right side of the end zone for the two-point conversion to tie the game up.
Delaware now takes a week off before resuming place Oct. 26 at CAA foe Rhode Island.
• Delaware has now won four straight Homecoming games and is 44-15 all-time
• Delaware honored its 1963 undefeated (8-0) national championship team during a halftime ceremony. Over 40 players and coaches returned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the season
• Johnson caught five passes for 57 yards and went over the 1,000-yard mark for his career
• Delaware head coach Dave Brock became just the third coach in UD history to start his career winning his first five games, joining William McAvoy (1922) and his predecessor K.C. Keeler (2002)
• The Hens are off to a 5-0 start at home for the first time since the 2010 national championship runner-up season
• LB David Mackall led the Delaware defense with 12 tackles while FS Mario Rowson posted 11 stops. DE Vince Hollerman recorded two of Delaware's five sacks.