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RAMS FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: ASU kicker Hamilton filling big shoes left by Bongarra; running backs work on fundamentals

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

ALBANY -- Every kicker dreams about that one shot at a quarter-hour of fame.

That moment when time is running out in the game and his team needs him to send one through the uprights to win or extend the game.

As the Atlanta Falcons' game Saturday against New Orleans showed, it can end in either excitement or exuberance for the kicker.

Garrett Hartley couldn't do it for the Saints in that game, and there's now talk of the team replacing him. Matt Bryant, on the other hand, won the game for the Falcons on a 46-yarder in overtime, and has been the toast of the state all week.

It's a moment Albany State freshman kicker Brandon Hamilton has had his eye on -- and craves.

"I've been waiting on one of those," said Hamilton, who also kicked for his high school team, South Gwinnett. "That's why I'm going to stay here for four years. I might get that one chance to do that and get my one moment of glory."

Hamilton made all four PAT attempts in Saturday's 28-14 win against Savannah State and has been pretty consistent this year -- he's 15-for-16 on PATs -- but he's yet to make a field goal (0-for-1).

"I feel like I could have made those two field goals I missed (against Clark Atlanta and Tuskegee)," Hamilton said. "I just need to execute on my opportunities. I don't get many chances in the game ... but I feel like I've done good so far."

Then again, with the way Albany State (4-0) has been playing, he hasn't really needed to make many field goals.

"We've been going for it on fourth down (a lot)," said Hamilton, who can consistently make FGs from 45 yards out in practice. "We feel strong about our offense, but whenever they put me in, I'll be ready."

Head coach Mike White didn't hesitate when asked if the team feels comfortable going for a field goal instead of a fourth-down conversion, saying Hamilton has earned his confidence.

"He's done an outstanding job," White said. "I thought the No. 1 hole that had to be filled going into the season was the kicker. We had seen him kick earlier in the year and weren't really impressed.

"But the kid went back and just worked and improved. It's huge to have that (dependable) kicker. We've had so much success in the past with Juan (Bongarra) and other kickers, so not to have that coming in was a huge worry."

Hamilton said he earned the job by focusing on consistency, but both he and White said he has room to improve.

"I'm a freshman," said Hamilton, who also has a 57.8 yard average on kickoffs. "So I have four years to get out here and do my best."

Added White: "He's got a big upside. He's going to get a lot stronger and (perfect) his technique."

And while that moment of glory is still in the back of his mind, Hamilton says he's just happy being able to contribute to a successful team.

"It feels great (being a Ram)," Hamilton said. "It's great to be an addition to the team and (give them) that one point or three points that they need to help get them that victory."

HOLD ON TO THE ROCK: It's hard to knock on Robert Welton, ASU's leading rusher (371 yards) and scorer (six touchdowns), but the fact is, the transfer running back had two lost fumbles in Saturday's game against Savannah State, and has something to work on this week.

"Saturday, man, I just had a mental lapse," Welton said. "So today, and the rest of the week, we're just working on the little stuff, going back to basics. holding onto the ball and making sure I've got both hands on the ball when I'm in the hole."

But instead of replacing the pigskin with something like a baby or a medicine ball, Welton is looking to the past for guidance.

"That would be nice (to do something out-of-the-ordinary like that)," Welton chuckled. "But I just went back to old school and (am trying to focus on) the four pressure points of the ball, (like keeping it) high and tight and making sure I'm not swinging the ball when I'm running."

But Welton has a luxury most other top running backs don't have: quality guys to back him up. LiRonnie Davis (90 yards, TD) and Kareem Hess (76 yards, TD) both had great games Saturday, which is why Welton was so optimistic Tuesday at practice.

"We're all best friends off the field," Welton said. "On the field, all three of us just encourage each other to do better. Whoever's in, the other two congratulate and cheer him on, and if someone makes a mistake, we're picking each other up."