Saxons top Hartwick to stay unbeaten

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ONEONTA, NY – The 21st-ranked Alfred University football team defeated host Hartwick College 35-14 Saturday afternoon. AU senior wide receiver Ryan Thon  set a new school record with four touchdowns catches — three of them coming in the first half — and the Saxons rolled up 391 yards of offense to improve to 5-0 on the season (2-0 Empire 8).

Alfred opened the scoring on its first possession. Junior quarterback Nick Clark intercepted a Dan Brainard pass at the Hartwick 38-yard line and returned it 20 yards to the Hawk 18. Three plays later, AU junior quarterback Tom Secky  hit Thon with a 15-yard TD pass to give the Saxons a 7-0 lead 2:22 into the game

Secky connected with Thon on a five-yard scoring pass with 38 seconds left in the opening quarter, capping a nine-play, 81-yard drive and giving AU a 14-0 advantage. On the Saxons' next possession, AU marched 96 yards in 10 plays, with Thon catching his third scoring pass from Secky, a 13-yarder that put Alfred up 21-0.

Hartwick (2-3, 0-2 Empire 8) got on the board with 2:12 left in the half, taking advantage of a Secky fumble that gave the Hawks possession at the AU 36-yard line.  Nine plays later, Kyle Morenus tossed a three-yard touchdowns pass to running back Nate Rockefeller and Alfred led 21-7.

Alfred scored its first two possessions of the second half to take a commanding 35-7 lead. After taking the second-half kickoff, the Saxons went 66 yards in just three plays, with Thon catching his fourth TD pass of the contest, a 21-yarder, 1:34 into the third. After holding Hartwick on the Hawks' ensuing possession, AU freshman tailback Austin Dwyer returned a punt 78 yards for a score with just over 11 minutes remaining in the quarter.

Hartwick had a chance cut the Saxons' lead late in the third, taking over at the AU 47-yard line after a short punt. But after driving to the Alfred 12, the Morenus was intercepted by junior cornerback Matt Mazur at the Saxon 10-yard line with 28 seconds left in the quarter. Hartwick forced Alfred to punt and took over at their own 45-yard line, then took just two plays and 35 seconds to cut into the Saxon lead. Morenus completed a 35-yard pass to wideout Ryan Mosack and then a 20-yard touchdown toss to wide receiver Jordan Wilkins and Alfred led 35-14 with 13:28 left in regulation.

The Hawks had a chance to draw closer on their next two possessions, but couldn't capitalize on a pair of Saxon turnovers in AU territory. After Hardwick forced a Secky fumble at the Alfred 13-yard line, Morenus was intercepted by AU junior cornerback Roland O'Brien at the Alfred 5-yard line. The Saxons gave the ball right back, with Hartwick safety Pete Jackson intercepting Secky at the Alfred 34-yard line. But the Hawks' drive stalled when they turned the ball over on downs at the Saxon 6-yard line.

Alfred took over with 9:07 left and drove 62 yards, running ran 5:16 off the clock, before turning the ball over on downs at the Hardwick 32. Clark had a key two-yard run on fourth-and-one to keep the drive alive. Hartwick turned the ball over on downs at their own 40-yard line and Alfred ran out the final 1:44.

Thon finished his career day with 10 catches for 165 yards and four touchdowns. Secky completed 22 of 34 passes for 272 yards, with four touchdowns with three interceptions. Dwyer, who came into the contest averaging 95 yards rushing per game — second in the Empire 8 — finished with 42 yards on 14 carries, while sophomore tailback Chris Lopez had 73 yards on the ground.

The AU defense held Hartwick to 311 yards of offense, including only 53 on the ground. Sophomore tackle Mike Raplee had seven tackles, including a half-sack and three tackles for loss, and Clark finished with six tackles and an interception. O'Brien had four tackles and broke up five passes.

Hartwick's Morenus completed 20 of 45 passes for 228 yards, while Brainard threw for 30 yards. Tailback Anthony Casiman rushed for 50 yards and Wilkins had seven catches for 106 yards and a touchdown.

Linebacker Jordan Spirou led the Hawk defense with 12 tackles. End Justin Deming had six stops and defensive back Stephen Leisenfelder had four tackles and an interception.

Alfred is in action next on Saturday, Oct. 16, at 1 p.m. for a con-conference game at RPI.