ALFRED, NY – The Alfred University football team shut out visiting Maritime College, 60-0, Saturday afternoon at Merrill Field in a first-round NCAA Division III championship playoff game.
With the win, Alfred's first in three NCAA games, the sixth-seeded Saxons (9-2) advance to the East Region semifinals, Saturday, Nov. 27, at second-seeded Cortland, a 49-35 winner over Endicott. Maritime, the region's third seed, ends its season at 10-1. Despite being the lower seed, AU hosted because Maritime was ineligible to host.
Alfred scored touchdowns on four of its first five drives and with a safety held a 29-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Senior wide receiver Ryan Thon (Victor, NY) caught two touchdown passes from junior quarterback Tom Secky (Bemus Point, NY). The first, from six yards, came four plays after AU took possession at the Maritime 19-yard line when the Privateers fumbled the opening kickoff.
Maritime punted on its ensuing possession and AU freshman tailback Austin Dwyer (Hornell, NY) scored on an 18-yard run to cap a four-play, 57-yard drive, giving the Saxons a 14-0 lead with just under 10 minutes left in the quarter. Following another Privateer punt, Thon caught a 31-yard scoring pass from Secky off a flea-flicker to put AU up 21-0 with 5:36 left.
AU scored a safety with 3:38 left when the snap on Maritime punt went through the endzone. AU fumbled on its ensuing possession, but got the ball back when sophomore cornerback Jon Jackson (East Amherst, NY) intercepted Maritime quarterback Joe Dickey (Middletown, NJ) at the Alfred 48-yard line and returned the ball to the Maritime 1-yard line. Two plays later, AU junior linebacker Nick Clark (Canisteo, NY) ran in from two yards out. The extra point failed and Alfred led, 29-0.
Thon caught two more Secky touchdown passes in the second quarter to give him four for the game, tying his school single-game record he set against Hartwick earlier this season. The two TD catches gave him 15 for the season, tying the school record set last year by Jared Manzer. Junior free safety Alec Currier (Peru, NY) intercepted a Dickey pass and returned it 30 yards to the Maritime 10-yard line to set up Thon's third scoring catch, a 10-yarder, with 9:03 left in the half. After a Maritime fumble gave AU the ball at the Privateer 40, Clark scored on a one-yard run to cap a five-play 40-yard drive that put the Saxons up 43-0 with 3:36 left. Secky's fourth touchdown pass to Thon, from 16 yards, came with 48 seconds left in the half and capped a five-play 38-yard drive.
AU sat its starters in the second half, and after a scoreless third quarter, AU added 10 fourth-quarter points to close out the scoring. Junior kicker/punter Eric Rockwood (Allegany, NY) booted a 33-yard field goal 10 seconds into the fourth and freshman linebacker Steve Kijowski (North Tonawanda, NY) returned an interception 64 yards for a touchdown with 9:22 left.
Rockwood made seven extra points to give him 51 for the season, a new AU record. He averaged 42.5 yards on four punts, landing three inside the 20 and two on the Maritime 1-yard line.
Thon finished with seven catches for 112 yards with four touchdowns and freshman wideout Josh Phillips (Syracuse, NY) caught three passes for 53 yards. Secky completed 12 of 22 passes for 176 yards and four scores. Dwyer finished with 57 yards rushing on eight carries and junior tailback Derek Echevarria (New York, NY) had 67 yards on 11 carries.
The AU defense held Maritime to minus-six yards of offense in the first half and 76 yards for the game. Dickey and backup QB Tyler Trodden (Somers, NY) combined to complete two of 12 passes for 14 yards and four interceptions. Fullback Jamie Spanopoulos (Franklin Square, NY) ran for a team-high 30 yards on 11 carries.
Sophomore tackle Mike Raplee (Dundee, NY) led the Saxons defense with 11 tackles (2.5 for loss, one sack). Clark (two tackles for loss), Jackson and senior tackle Torrance Jones (Rochester, NY) (one tackle for loss), each had six stops. Jackson, Kijowski, Currier and junior free safety Ryan Quinliven (Endicott, NY) each had interceptions and junior end Marcellus Jones (Lancaster, NY) tallied his team-leading eighth sack of the year.
Linebacker Pat Lasher (Seaford, NY) had a game-high 12 tackles for Maritime. Linebacker Keith Barnes (Westbury, NY) had nine and end Thomas Boney (Jacksonville, FL) had six tackles (1.5 for loss) and a sack.
AU will play at Cortland at noon Saturday, Nov. 27. If the Saxons win, they will play the winner of the other East region semifinal between top-seeded Mount Union and fourth-seeded Delaware Valley in the regional final on Saturday, Dec. 4.