The St. Lawrence University football team rallied from a 21-point deficit on Saturday against nationally-ranked #25 Alfred University at Leckonby Stadium in Canton, NY. However, the Saxons held on in the fourth quarter and came up with a key third down conversion on the final possession to seal a 24-16 victory.
Alfred moves to 2-0 on the season after having an early bye week, while St. Lawrence falls to 0-3 but showed improvements on both sides of the ball as the game went on.
The first quarter was a discouraging one for the Scarlet and Brown, as they trailed 14-0 thanks to Secky and the Saxon offense. Alfred scored on a 5-play, 67-yard drive that was capped by a 12-yard pass from Secky to D.J. Loughlin-Pope. After St. Lawrence's offense failed to produce a first down on the ensuing drive, Alfred went 59-yards on nine plays to take a two touchdown lead. The key play on the drive was a 4th-and-1 run by Alfred that sustained the drive at the Saints' 6-yard line, and Clark was rewarded two plays later with a 1-yard touchdown run. Eric Rockwood added the extra points for the 14-0 lead.
Junior Brendan McCarthy made a diving interception to end Alfred's third offensive series and give the Saints' offense the ball at the Saxons' 37-yard line. However, the Saints were forced into a 4th-and-9 try and opted to go for the first down. Junior Andy Spadoni tried to find classmate Marcus Washington on a screen pass, but Alfred's Chris Steeves stepped in front and intercepted the ball and scampered 65 yards untouched into the end zone to put the visitors on top 20-0 at 1:43 of the second quarter. Rockwood added the extra point for a 21-0 cushion.
Senior JP Kearney stepped under center on the next St. Lawrence drive and completed his first pass over the middle to senior captain Tim Robinson for a 46-yard gain. The Saints would use that momentum to carry out a 7-play, 60-yard scoring drive that was capped on a two-yard touchdown run by Washington. Junior Matt Dodge added the extra point, cutting the Alfred lead to 21-7.
St. Lawrence's defense would come up big again on the very first play of Alfred's next drive, as senior Chris Palmer sacked Secky and knocked the ball loose. Sophomore Jesse Clark recovered at the Alfred 21-yard line, which led to a converted 22-yard field goal try from Dodge to give St. Lawrence momentum trailing 21-10 at the half.
After the Saints held Alfred's offense in check on each of its first two possessions of the third quarter, Kearney would orchestrate a 6-play, 59-yard touchdown drive that pulled his team to within five at 21-16. Though the drive seemed to stall at the Alfred 25-yard line, the home team opted to go for it on 4th-and-10 and Kearney delivered a perfectly thrown ball to junior Ethan Sutton near the pile on for a 25-yard strike with 2:53 remaining in the quarter. The Saints' two-point conversion try failed, however, keeping the score at 21-16.
Both teams' defenses made key plays throughout the fourth quarter. The Saxons looked to be in good shape on the team's first drive of the fourth quarter, but senior captain Nate Howard made a fantastic one-handed interception on a screen play at his own 42-yard line and returned the ball back to Alfred's 25. However, Alfred answered with a pair of sacks to knock Kearney and the Saints' offense out of field goal range and force a punt.
Secky would be the difference-maker down the stretch, as he put together an 11-play, 56-yard drive that extended Alfred's advantage to 24-16. Facing a 3rd-and-11 at his own 26, Secky avoided a strong pass rush and delivered a strike to Andrew McCloud for a first down. He then found Loughlin-Pope for a 19-yard completion that allowed for a 34-yard field goal from Rockwood to put Alfred up by eight points with 3:43 remaining in regulation.
Kearney nearly found senior Alcee Walker for a long gain over the middle, but the pass fell incomplete. The Saints punted the ball back to Alfred and had the Saxons on the ropes facing a 3rd-and-13, but Secky delivered a perfect strike to Adam Schutz over the middle for a first down that allowed his team to run out the clock and celebrate a narrow 24-16 victory.
Alfred finished with a 16-13 advantage in first downs, and had a 311-229 edge in total yards. Secky was 17-of-30 passing for 169 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, while Kearney was 5-of-15 for 116 yards and a touchdown. Lopez finished as the game's leading rusher with 66 yards, while Washington paced the Saints with 46 yards and a score.
Defensively, sophomore AJ Blaisdell had a career-high 12 tackles including 1.5 for a loss for the Saints, while seniors Ryan Fedo and Howard each finished with double digits in tackles. Marcellus Jones finished as Alfred's leading tackler with seven stops.
St. Lawrence will open the 2010 Liberty League season next weekend in Kings Point, NY, as the Saints and Mariners from Merchant Marine will battle for the Hoffman Cup. Kick-off between the conference rivals is slated for 2:00pm.