Albany State leading rusher Nate Hoyte didn’t factor much in Saturday’s game against Wingate — a 37-9 loss. Hoyte and the Rams’ offense couldn’t get much going as ASU fell to 1-1. (Photos courtesy of Reginald Christian/Albany State University)
By Eric Rape
SPECIAL TO THE HERALD
WINGATE, N.C. — Albany State coach Mike White didn’t hold back after his team’s 37-9 road loss to Wingate University on Saturday.
“We got outcoached, and we got outplayed,” White said. “In every sense of the game, there weren’t a whole lot of positives.
“They came out and took it to us. We talked about that, us playing well last week, winning the game and then coming into this game versus a team we had beat twice; we had to be ready. You’ve got to give Wingate credit.”
The Rams (1-1), ranked 16th in the Division II poll coming into the game, knocked Wingate out of the playoffs in the second round in 2010 (30-28), then beat the Bulldogs again in the regular season last year in a 49-28 blowout.
The Bulldogs had two turnovers in the early going, but they pinned the Rams in their end most of the first half, giving WU’s offense short fields.
Wingate’s first touchdown drive was just 27 yards after the Bulldogs forced Albany State to punt from its own 2-yard line. It led to Nestor Lantigua’s 1-yard TD plunge with 7:19 left in the first quarter.
It started 21 unanswered points for the Bulldogs (1-1).
After another defensive stop, Wingate’s Cory McNulty came straight up the middle to block the punt, giving his team the ball at the ASU 16.
Five plays later, QB Robbie Nallenweg completed a 4-yard TD pass to Bryan Caffrey for a 14-0 lead with 9:17 left in the half.
“Fortunately the defense came up big for us,” Wingate coach Joe Reich said. “Even though we turned the ball over, we eventually got those scores because the defense pinned them down and we were able to get the ball in really good field position.”
Wingate’s defense set up another scoring drive when ASU QB David Kooi was intercepted by Jakeem Polk at the Wingate 42.
Three plays later, Nallenweg found Chris Bowden for a 9-yard TD and a 21-0 lead.
The n Rams finally got on the board just before halftime on Zachary Holley’s 26-yard field goal.
Nallenweg finished 30-for-44 for 292 yards.
The win was satisfying for Reich after two straight years of losing to ASU.
“It’s pretty sweet,” Reich said. “We felt like we had a pretty good week of practice. We came out of Thursday and Friday like, ‘We feel pretty good right now’. It’s nice to see us actually take it from the practice field and come out here and get it done on the game field.”
Albany State’s lone TD came on Kooi’s 62-yard pass to former Mitchell County star Jessis Atkins. Atkins stood out for Albany State with 144 yards on six receptions.
But that was about for the only positive on the day for ASU, which brought in backup QB Keenan Grissett at one point to try and turn things around for the struggling Kooi, but it made little difference in this one.
The Bulldogs added a 3-yard touchdown reception by Josh Clawson in the third and a 22-yard field goal by Paul Grammaticopoulos in the fourth to round out the scoring.
The Rams are back on the road in N.C. next weekend at Elizabeth City State next Saturday.