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