Alfred Extends Saints' Skid to Three Games with 20-3 Win
Sept. 20: The St. Lawrence University football team dropped its third consecutive game to open the 2008 season to Alfred University on Saturday afternoon, as the Saxons' defense allowed only three points in a 20-3 road win at Leckonby Stadium. The Saints' (0-3, 0-0) defense, led by juniors Gerard Bryant and Gabe McBride, only allowed Alfred's Pre-Season All-American Vinson Hendrix to pick up 19 yards on 15 carries.
The first half was a defensive struggle between the two teams, as neither squad's offense looked completely comfortable in the windy conditions. Alfred would grab an early 3-0 lead on a 36-yard field goal by Eric Rockwood at 4:27 of the first quarter, but St. Lawrence's offense would march down the field on the ensuing possession and set up a 1st-and-goal opportunity at the 8-yard line.
Sophomore quarterback JP Kearney, making his first collegiate start, found sophomore tight end Tim Robinson at the 3-yard line on 3rd down, but the Scarlet and Brown were forced to settle for a 20-yard field goal by senior Matt Popov to even the score at 3-3 with 2:21 remaining in the first quarter.
The Saints' secondary, which had only allowed a total of 86 yards passing in the two games leading into Saturday, would give up their biggest play from scrimmage on the opening play of the second quarter. Alfred's rookie quarterback Tom Secky threw a beautiful ball over the middle to Trevor Bork, who caught the pass and breezed into the end zone for a 60-yard touchdown reception only 12 seconds into the second frame. Rockwood added the extra point for a 10-3 cushion.
Each team's defense then made critical plays on consecutive drives, as Alfred stopped the Saints' drive when Kearney was picked off by Brian Nitsche at the Alfred 47-yard line. After it appeared Alfred would follow the interception up with a score thanks to a 23-yard pass play, St. Lawrence's senior co-captain Andy Welkley knocked the football out of Hendrix's hands at the Saints' 8-yard line while senior Charles Haydock pounced on the ball to keep it a one-score game.
The next several drives proved to be about field position, as neither team was able to put any points on the board, but relied on their punting units to keep the ball away from their respective end zones. Neither team reached the other's red zone again until Alfred took over with 11:17 to play in the third quarter and drove the ball down to the Saints' 5-yard line. However, after a tackle for a loss by McBride and a dropped pass in the end zone, Alfred was forced to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Rockwood that pushed their lead to 13-3 with 5:45 remaining on the clock in the third quarter.
The Saints' best opportunity came thanks to a miscue by Alfred punter Pete Marley with just under three minutes left in the quarter. Marley bobbled the snap and instead of trying to gain control and kick it away with the wind at his back, he took off towards the first down marker and came up well short, giving the ball to the Saints at the Alfred 21-yard line. The Saxons' defense would not bend, though, as Rob Ritter and Jeremy Darron made consecutive plays to force a field goal attempt by Popov on the first play of the fourth quarter. With the wind now at his back, Popov had the distance, but his kick from 37 yards missed wide right, keeping the score at 13-3.
Sophomore Louis Jenkins would give his team the ball back on the very next play, though, as he came up with the jump ball against Alfred wide receiver Milton Harding for his first collegiate interception. Two plays later, though, Kearney was picked off by Ron Smith at the Alfred 24-yard line and Smith brought the ball all the way back to the Saints' 34. Though the home team's defense would force a punt on a three-and-out, Kearney was intercepted on the following drive's second play by Jeremy Darron at the 18 yard line.
St. Lawrence's defense continued to do their job, as they drove Secky and the Saxons' offense back out of field goal range thanks to the wind and forced a turnover on downs, giving the ball back to Kearney and the Saints' offense on their own 25 yard line. After they were unable to reach the first down marker, Alfred got the ball back with 9:20 to play at their own 25 after a 41 yard punt by Popov.
In what proved to be the best drive of the afternoon, Secky connected with Jared Manzer, Bork and D.J. Pope on plays that went for 16 yards or more to set up in the red zone. After a 4th-and-1 was converted on a rush up the middle by Hendrix to reach the 1-yard line, Alfred rewarded their tail back by giving him the ball up the gut again for a 1-yard touchdown run, capping off an 11 play, 75 yard drive that took up 7:14 minutes. Rockwood's extra point sailed through the uprights and brought the score to its final of 20-3 with only 2:06 remaining in regulation.
Secky finished 18-of-32 for 302 yards, a touchdown and an interception while Kearney was 16-of-39 for 99 yards and three interceptions. Neither team was able to run the ball well, as Hendrix finished with 19 yards on 15 carries to lead Alfred while junior Eric Jones carried the ball 15 times for 42 yards to lead St. Lawrence.
Bork and Manzer were the difference offensively, as they went for 172 and 81 yards each, respectively. Senior Ryan Cooney was the leading Saint receiver with five catches for 39 yards.
Defensively, Bryant and Ritter tied with a game-high 10 tackles each, though Bryant also added a sack, four tackles for a loss, a QB hurry and a pass break-up. McBride also chipped in nine tackles at the linebacker position while Devaun McFarland had a game-high four pass break-ups.
The Saints will look to get their season back on track next week in the 2008 Liberty League opener against the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. That game, which is scheduled to be played in Kings Point, NY for the Hoffman Cup, will begin at 2:00pm.