ALFRED, NY – The Alfred University football team dominated both sides of the ball in Saturday's season-opening 48-17 victory over visiting RPI on Merrill Field.
AU was never threatened, scoring on its first six possessions. The Saxons tallied the game's first 20 points, led 34-10 at the half, and didn't punt the ball until late in the fourth quarter. The AU offense, which lost seven starters from last season's Empire 8 Conference championship team, piled up 561 yards, while a veteran AU defense, which returned all but on starter, held RPI to 227 yards of offense, including only 51 on the ground.
AU senior quarterback Tom Secky completed 17 of 25 passes for 328 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore wide receiver Josh Phillips caught seven passes for 201 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a 70-yarder on the first play of the second quarter, which gave AU a 20-0 advantage. Sophomore tailback Austin Dwyer ran for 107 yards and three TDs on 17 carries.
AU took the opening kickoff and drove 80 yards on six plays, with Phillips scoring on a 53-yard bomb from Secky 3:20 into the game. Dwyer's nine-yard run with 5:31 left in the opening frame gave AU a 13-0 lead and the Saxons pushed their lead to 20 on Phillips' long catch-and-run three seconds into the second period.
A 33-yard field goal by Andrew Franks got RPI on the board with 11:42 left in the half. Alfred senior linebacker Nick Clark scored on a one-yard run with just under six minutes left in the half to make it 27-3, Alfred. Clark, the Saxons' short-yardage specialist, finished with 46 yards on eight carries; each of his rushing attempts produced either a score or a first down.
RPI made it 27-10 on a 10-yard run by quarterback Mike Hermann with 2:48 left in the half, but AU answered with 45 seconds left on Secky's three-yard pass to junior nose tackle Mike Raplee (Dundee, NY/Dundee).
The teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter. Dwyer scored on a 17-yard run midway through the period to cap a 10-play 80-yard drive, then Austin Caswell caught a six yard TD pass from Hermann with 21 seconds left in the frame to make it 41-17. Dwyer's third scoring run of the game, from nine yards with 13:20 left in the fourth, closed out the game's scoring.
The AU offense was sharp and balanced, producing 337 yards passing and 224 on the ground while converting 11 of 13 third-down chances and posting 27 first downs. Junior tailback Tyler DeRosa, a transfer from Western Connecticut State, ran or 60 yards on 10 carries and caught one pass for 43 yards in his first game in a Saxon uniform. Senior tight end Adam Schutz caught four passes for 47 yards.
Hermann was RPI's leading rusher, with 22 yards on nine carries. He completed 18 of 35 passes for 176 yards and a score. Wipeout Reggie Colas caught six passes or 58 yards and wide receiver Steven Burpoe caught a pair of passes for 41 yards.
The AU defense held RPI to 16 first downs and allowed the Engineers to convert only eight of 17 third downs. Clark had 10 tackles, including 1.5 for loss; senior linebacker Wes Smith had seven tackles (3.5 for loss); and Raplee had six tackles, including 1.5 for loss and a sack. Senior end Marcellus Jones had five tackles, including a sack, and senior cornerback Alec Currier had five tackles and three pass breakups.
Safety Zach Scruggs had a game-high 13 tackles and forced a fumble to lead the RPI defense. Cornerback Kevin Frame and linebacker Matthew Day each had eight tackles and tackle Ted Abriel had a pair of tackles for loss.
Alfred is in action next on Saturday, Sept. 17, at 1 p.m. at home against St. Lawrence.