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NEW YORK - Leading 24-14, Albany scored 20 unanswered points and defeated Columbia 44-21 in its home opener on a humid day at Robert K. Kraft Field.

Albany opened scoring in the first quarter when Drew Smith ran for a 41-yard touchdown.  Columbia answered with a 10-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a Nick Gerst one-yard touchdown run. 

Albany scored again to make it 14-7, when they drove 78 yards on 14 plays over a span of 5:18 in the second quarter.  Omar Osbourne rushed for a 17-yard touchdown in the play that put Albany up for good.

The Great Danes took advantage of good field position when Columbia fumbled the snap for a punt and Albany took over on downs at their own 49.  Four plays later, Albany took a 21-7 lead.

Trailing 24-7, Columbia started a drive with 12 seconds left at the Albany 49, when Alec Fisher returned a kickoff for 33 yards.

Sean Brackett found Mike Stephens for a 15-yard gain with just seven seconds remaining at the Albany 34.  Brackett then threw up a last-second heave, which was intercepted by Albany's Kevin Chillis at the two, but Chillis was tackled and fumbled, when Columbia first-year Connor Nelligan picked up the ball and dove in for the score.  With no time remaining, Luke Eddy hit the PAT to make it 24-14 at the break.

Albany went on to score three unanswered touchdowns in the third for the final 44-14 margin.

Albany totaled 446 yards of offense to Columbia's 328.  Smith totaled a 155-yards rushing for the Great Danes, while Columbia totaled 117 yards total rushing.

Neil Schuster, Steven Grassa, Mike Murphy and Zach Olinger each had eight tackles to lead the Lions.

Columbia returns to action in its Ivy League opener next Saturday, October 1, at Princeton for a 6 p.m. game.