September 5, 2015

Albright Fourth Quarter Rally Topples Sea Gulls

Photo Courtesy of Albright Athletics
READING, Pa. -- During preseason workouts with his team, Albright head coach John Marzka challenged his team to earn it. The it being whatever the season ahead would hold for them collectively. Little did he realize the challenges the Lions would face in week one of the 2015 season against Salisbury, but Albright earned a significant victory by rallying from 20 points down in the fourth quarter to defeat the Sea Gulls 24-23 on Friday night at Shirk Stadium.

The beginning of the fourth quarter did not look promising for Albright. Trailing 23-3 and having seen its freshman quarterback Mike Knightthrow three first-half interceptions, Albright's prospects were dim. Instead, the Lions ripped off 21 consecutive points, including a pair of touchdown passes Knight, to rally past the Sea Gulls.

The Lions learned a lot in the victory on Friday night. They learned no deficit is too large to overcome, they learned they have a game-breaking receiving corp and they learned they have a resiliant gun-slinger of a quarterback.

Knight started the Lions comeback when he engineered an 8-play, 39-yard drive that was capped with him finding Vinny Williams for a 6-yard touchdown pass that trimmed the Salisbury lead to 23-10 with 13:46 to play in the fourth quarter.

Salisbury drove to the Albright 5-yard line on its next drive, but Grant Boehler and Rich Kuhn combined to stop Ryan Jones on a fourth and two play to regain possession for the Lions.

Following an Albright punt, the Sea Gulls started a drive in Lions territory, but Steve Barroso recovered a fumble by Connor Canonico at the Salisbury 49-yard line.

Knight then drove the Lions 51 yards in seven plays, highlighted by a 37-yard completion to Dan Grillo on third and 10, to step up a 1-yard scoring run by Brian Wickkiser that brought the Lions to within 23-17 with just over six minutes to play.

Barroso batted down a third-down pass on the Sea Gulls next drive, which forced a Salisbury punt.

With 5:28 remaining on the clock, and needing a touchdown to win, Knight then methodically marched the Lions down the field. He connected with Williams for 18 yards on third and three to keep the drive alive and then found Malik Jackson from eight yards out with 2:29 to play giving Albright its first lead of the game at 24-23.

But the game was far from over.

Beginning on their own 23-yard line, the Sea Gulls marched all the way to the Albright 1-yard line setting up a potential game-winning field goal. Alex Potocko hooked the 18-yard attempt with 12 seconds remaining in regulation and the Lions ran out the clock to seal the victory.

Knight finished the game 27-of-42 for 303 yards and two touchdowns in his first collegaite start. He also added 43 yards rushing, which included some nifty open-field moves.

Jackson was brilliant for the Lions as he hauled in 14 passes for 116 yards and the game-winning touchdown.

Barroso, a senior captain, had an oustanding game on the defensive side of the ball as he had six tackles, recovered two fumbles and knocked down a potential drive-extending pass in the fourth quarter.

The Lions extended their winning streak in season openers to five straight and also halted a three-game losing skid to Salisbury with the win on Friday.

Albright will have a bye week and then return to action on Sept. 19 when it hosts Widener in its Middle Atlantic Conference opener at 1 p.m. at Shirk Stadium.