ALFRED, N.Y. – Rochester produced one of its most significant overall performances in recent years and was rewarded with one of its biggest victories – a 24-14 defeat of Alfred University on the Saxons' home field.
The victory came a week after Alfred defeated St. John Fisher College and moved into the top 25 in both the coaches and media polls. The Saxons are #20 in the d3football.com poll and #25 in the AFCA poll.
There were contributors all over the field for Rochester: senior placekicker Zachary White-Stellato kicked a career-long 42-yard field goal to start the scoring and made all three of his extra point attempts. Senior running back R.J. Napodano ran the wildcat offensive set for part of the game, rushing for 54 yards and a touchdown. He also caught three passes for 15 yards and punted once, dumping the ball inside the Alfred 20.
Junior quarterback Braezen Subick hit 13 of 20 passes for 120 yards and one touchdown. He was intercepted once and sacked once. Subick carried the ball a total of seven times for a net of 15 yards, including an 11-yard sprint late in the third quarter to keep a drive going (which eventually pinned the Saxons at their own one).
On the defensive side of the ball, senior Nick Sorosky and sophomore Kobie Hamm had interceptions on Alfred's last two possessions – and both came deep in Rochester territory. The aggregate Yellowjacket defense produced four tackles for loss, including one sack, forced two fumbles, and broke up seven passes. Alfred rushed 18 times for a net of 52 yards.
Rochester wanted to contain a high-powered Alfred offense that averaged 35 points a game (and had a resounding victory over Rochester in Alfred last year).
The Yellowjackets turned the ball over on their first series. Subick drove Rochester from its own 31 to the Saxon 40, helped by a personal foul penalty against the home team. On 3rd-and-11 from the AU 40, his long pass downfield for Napodano was intercepted by Roland O'Brien at the AU 15.
Alfred went three-and-out, punted, and Rochester did the same thing. Napodano angled a punt to the AU 8. Now they started to trade field position. QB Tom Secky completed one of five passes, moving the Saxons to their own 23 where they punted again. Rochester moved across midfield before Mike Carson punted down to the AU 12.
Secky hit Josh Phillips for a four-yard gain and Austin Dwyer ran for five. On third-and-one, Nick Clark rushed to the 25 where the ball was jostled loose by Rochester's Shola Fakorode and Tony Ortega fell on it at the AU 25.
Chris Lebano lost six yards on first down and fumbled, but left tackle Matt Cohen fell on the ball for Rochester. Subick found Napodano for six to get back to the 25, then missed on a pass to Adam Brinkman. White-Stellato kicked the 42-yarder to put Rochester ahead, 3-0, with 14:08 left in the half.
The defense held again. On third-and-10, Secky hit Dwyer and Ortega hauled him down one yard short of a first down. Rochester started at its own 29. Subick hit back to back passes, finding Tom Norman for 20 yards and Willie Roberson for 19. It got the ball just over midfield. Subick ran for five. Napodano gained seven out of the wildcat. He ran for nine more, but the play came back for a holding penalty. On third-and-13 from the 21, he connected with Brinkman who ran down the right sideline for a touchdown. Whitre-Stellato's PAT made it 10-0 with 8:56 left in the quarter.
Alfred got on the scoreboard with an eight-play, 76-yard drive to start the third quarter. Dwyer did most of the legwork, rushing 36 yards and catching a 34-yard pass. He ran 13 yards for the TD and Eric Rockwood made the PAT to cut the lead to 10-7.
An illegal blocking penalty on the kickoff put Rochester back to its own 19 to start. The Yellowjackets went 81 yards in 12 plays. Lebano rushed for 17 yards. Subick hit four passes, two to Norman, and Napodano carried the last four times, covering 20 yards. His two-yard scoring run and White-Stellato's PAT made it 17-7 midway through the third.
Alfred's defense stopped Napodano on fourth-and-goal from the one early in the fourth quarter. The teams exchanged punts. Alfred started on its own 13 with 9:12 to play. Secky converted two fourth downs and threw a 31-yard pass to Andre McCloud to get the ball to the UR 1. Bill Campi stopped his sneak attempt on first down, but Nick Clark took it in on second and goal. Rockwood's PAT made it 17-14 with 4:26 left.
Alfred was penalized for a personal foul and had to kick off from its own 15. Rockwood's kick was fielded by Roberson at the 26 and he darted 74 yards for a touchdown just 11 seconds after AU cut the lead to three. White-Stellato's third PAT pushed the lead to 24-14 with 4:15 left.
The Sorosky interception came in the last three minutes. Secky started at his own 38 with 2:39 left. He threw incomplete, then hit McCloud for 21 yards, putting the ball on the UR 41. His deep pass was intercepted by Sorosky at the 20 and he returned it to the 32.
Lebano ran for two yards and the Yellowjackets knelt twice with the snap. Rochester called time with 12 seconds left. Then Carson punted and it was returned nine yards by Dwyer to the AU 49 with five seconds to play.
Secky tried to throw deep and Hamm picked off the ball at the two as the final horn sounded.