|Scott Litchy barrels through for some yards early in Friday's win over Benson. Yards were tough to come by in the first half, but the Huskies scored 20 unanswered points in the second half for the win.|
What a difference two halves make.
After being outplayed in the first half and trailing 9-6 against Benson Friday, the Albany Huskies came out strong in the second half to score 20 unanswered points on their way to a 26-9 victory.
The Huskies scored first after taking advantage of a Benson fumble on Benson’s 27-yard line in the firts quarter. Senior captain Ben Eli recovered the fumble and it was fellow senior Nick Nueman who scampered in from seven yards out for the first score.
The extra point attempt failed and the Huskies clung to a 6-0 lead.
But Benson took over for the rest of the half. Junior quarterback Matt Ahrndt connected on a 41-yard pass to Albany’s 9-yard line, but the Braves had to settle for a field goal after a botched snap drove them back from the 1-yard line to the 12.
With the score 6-3, Albany couldn’t muster any offense as their running game struggled to gain ground against a much bigger Benson defense.
Ahrndt and the Braves drove down the field again, but this time it was Austin Petron who came up with a key block on a fourth down play to thwart the threat. Albany's defense came up with several key stops throughout the game that helped them stay in the game.
Midway through the second quarter the Huskies had switched up their offensive game plan and moved starting quarterback Scott Litchy to halfback and Blake Meyer to quarterback. But Meyer’s first attempt was picked off and returned to Albany’s 43. This gave Ahrndt one more chance to take the lead before the half and he connected with Logan Connelly on 4th and 12 from the 26-yard line for a touchdown with just 39 seconds to go in the half.
|A pass from Scott Litchy was just out of the reach of Dylan Shay early in Friday's game. When it was all said and done all 289 yards for the Huskies were gained on the ground.|
The TD gave Benson a 9-6 lead heading into the locker room. Not only did they have the lead, they had the momentum. They had outgained the Huskies 181 yards to 51. Most of Benson’s yards came through the air while all 51 of Albany's was on the ground.
But things changed in the second half. The Huskies scored three touchdowns and held the potent Benson offense at bay. Most importantly, they were finally able to create some holes to allow the running game to flourish.
Senior tailback Travis Sand broke through on a 46-yard TD run with 3:23 left in the third quarter. A Scott Litchy extra point made it 12-9.
|Travis Sand gave the Huskies the lead with this 46-yard TD run with 3:23 to go in the third quarter.|
On Benson’s next possession, the biggest play of the night ensued. Albany began blitzing in the second half and it paid off. When Ben Eli and Jesse Womack converged on Ahrndt, they made contact with him as he released the ball. Senior lineman Austin Petron was their for the pick and he returned it 40 yards for the score.
|Austin Petron needed a drink after running the 40-yard dash Friday. Petron had the biggest play of the game when he picked off a Matt Ahrndt pass and returned it 40 yards for a TD.|
The Albany sideline erupted as the senior scampered toward the goal line. And as the Huskies’ spirits rose, Benson’s deflated.
After that it was all Albany as they coasted to the win, capped by a 8-yard TD run by Litchy.
The 26-9 win gives Albany a 1-0 mark on the season. Despite a slow first half, the Huskies gained 289 yards, all on the ground, and 237 in the second half. Litchy led the way with 96 yards on 18 carries. Sand gained 86 yards on eight carries and Kyle VanOverbeke, who also had a great defensive deflection to thwart a Benson drive, gained 44 yards on five carries.
Benson, meanwhile, finished with 304 yards, most of them through the air. Ahrndt completed 21-of-38 passes for 258 yards a TD and an interception.
Both teams had 13 first downs and Benson committed six penalties to Albany’s three.
But in the end, it was the score that mattered, and despite a slow start, the Huskies’ second-half surge catapulted them to solid season-opening victory.
Be sure to check out this week's Enterprise for more on Friday's big win including reaction from coaches and players. More than 200 photos of the game will be posted on the photo gallery on the Enterprise website next week. Check it out at www.albanyenterprise.com.