Saints Suffer 21-7 Loss to Susquehanna
Oct. 31: The St. Lawrence University football team dropped another tight game on Saturday, as the Crusaders of Susquehanna University held on for a 21-7 victory in a driving rain storm in Canton, NY. The Scarlet and Brown had several chances to creep back into the game in the fourth quarter, but turnovers ended their hopes of knocking off the second place team in the Liberty League.
The victory keeps Susquehanna only one game behind Union in the standings at 6-2 (4-1), while the Saints fall to 2-6 (1-4) on the season.
"Susquehanna is a very good football team on both sides of the ball," said St. Lawrence head coach Chris Phelps. "Both teams had their chances throughout the game, and they capitalized and made plays and we didn't."
Susquehanna running back Dave Paveletz, the top-ranked rusher in the conference, ran for 144 yards on 28 carries, while seniors Connor Hackett (58 yards) and Eric Jones (55 yards) and sophomore Ramon Mignott (45 yards) split the work load out of the St. Lawrence back field. Junior quarterback JP Kearney struggled throwing the ball in the blustery winds, completing 3-of-17 passes for 24 yards, a touchdown and four interceptions. His counterpart, Rich Palazzi, fared better with 167 yards and two scores on 12-for-21 passing.
Defensively, senior captain Gerard Bryant and junior Ryan Fedo were the game's top tacklers. Bryant made a game-high 15 stops including 2.0 tackles for a loss and a forced fumble. Fedo made 11 tackles at the linebacker position. Susquehanna was led by Ken Schetroma's 10 tackles, though Pete Johnsen was impressive as well swarming to the football, making seven tackles including 2.0 for a loss.
St. Lawrence set the tone by forcing Susquehanna to punt on its opening drive, and then marched 53 yards deep in Crusader territory. With the hard wind at their backs, the Scarlet and Brown used Hackett and a 12-yard completion to reach the visitor's 22-yard line with a fresh set of downs. However, on first down, Kearney's pass was intercepted by Mitch Phillips to kill the scoring chance and keep the game scoreless with 8:56 to play in the first quarter.
With the conditions dictating much of the play-calling, neither team found success moving the football. The squads exchanged punts on five straight drives as the first quarter closed with the scoreboard stuck at 0-0.
The change of direction proved to be a plus for Susquehanna, which reeled off 14 straight points with the wind at its back to take charge, 14-0. On their first drive of the second quarter, Palazzi found J.J. Moran for a 28-yard completion on 3rd down to reach the St. Lawrence 28. On the following 3rd-and-6, Palazzi found Keith Howell for another big conversion down to the 4-yard line. Greg Tellish did the rest from there, as he scored on 1st down to give the Crusaders a 6-0 lead, while Bobby Eppleman added the extra point.
Jalon Scott gave his team's offense the ball back quickly after the touchdown as he intercepted Kearney at the St. Lawrence 27 to give the Crusaders great field position. They'd put it to good use, as they used a six-play, 27 yard drive to build a 14-0 cushion with 6:55 to play in the second quarter. Both big pass plays on the drive came on 3rd down yet again, with a 22-yarder going to Moran and a 6-yard touchdown connection to Mike Ritter.
St. Lawrence would grind out a 12-play, 66-yard drive over the course of 5:39 to cut its deficit in half before halftime. The touchdown drive, which went straight into the teeth of the wind, was helped by three 3rd down conversions to get the ball down to the Susquehanna 14-yard line. However, facing 4th-and-7 from that spot, Kearney delivered a perfect ball to junior Tim Robinson in the end zone for the tight end's first collegiate touchdown reception. First-year student Christopher Dris added the extra point to pull his team within seven at 14-7.
Miscues would plague both teams throughout the second half, but they proved to be more costly to St. Lawrence. Susquehanna had a chance to go up by 10 with a 29-yard field goal try, but Eppleman never got a kick off as his holder bobbled the snap. The Saints then appeared to have fooled the Crusaders with a fake punt rush up the middle to sophomore Marcus Washington, but Phillips saved the first down with a beautiful open-field tackle to force a turnover on downs.
Phillips' defensive efforts sparked his team's offense to a 9-play, 53-yard touchdown drive that capped the game's scoring with 1:49 left in the third quarter. Palazzi kept the drive alive with a 22-yard completion on 3rd-and-15, then found Ritter in the end zone on a 4th-and-7 try from the St. Lawrence 22 for the score. Ritter made a great adjustment on the ball in the air while the Saints' defense failed to locate the pass. Eppleman's extra point made it 21-7 Susquehanna.
St. Lawrence would have a variety of chances in the fourth quarter with the wind at its back. However, Kearney was picked off at the Crusaders' 5-yard line by Scott, then again by Ryan Eck at the 8-yard line on the following drive to keep the Saints behind by 14. Susquehanna then used an 8-play, 25-yard drive that lasted nearly five minutes to kill the remaining time in the fourth quarter and escape with a 21-7 win.
The victory for Susquehanna was the first against St. Lawrence since joining the Liberty League, and gave the Crusaders redemption after losing to the Saints 49-42 each of the last two season. Hackett was held without a touchdown for the second straight game, and his career total remains at 26, tied for the University's all-time record.
St. Lawrence will host its final home game of the 2009 season next Saturday, November 7 against the University of Rochester. Kick-off is scheduled for 1:00pm, as the Saints will honor the team's 30 seniors on "Senior Day."