AU whips Utica in season finale
ALFRED, NY – The Alfred University football team ran for 281 yards and the Saxon defense forced two turnovers in a 41-13 victory over visiting Utica in Alfred's 2011 regular season finale Saturday afternoon at Merrill Field.
With the win, the Saxons improve to 7-3 overall and 4-3 in Empire 8 Conference play and now will wait word on whether they will receive a bid to play in an ECAC bowl game. The Pioneers fall to 5-5 on the season (2-5 Empire 8).
AU produced 441 yards of offense and scored touchdowns on its first four drives of the game, with sophomore tailback Austin Dwyer and junior tailback Tyler DeRosa each rushing for more than 100 yards. Dwyer ran for 109 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries and also returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown, and DeRosa ran for 105 yards and a score on 13 carries and caught a pair of passes for 24 yards.
Alfred scored first, taking the opening kickoff and driving 66 yards on nine plays, with freshman wide receiver Chrsitian Smith scoring on an eight-yard run with 9:31 left in the opening quarter. Utica answered, with quarterback Andrew Benkwitt connecting with wideout Anthony Acevedo on a 16-yard scoring pass to cap a nine-play, 63-yard drive with just more than six minutes left in the opening frame. The PAT failed and the Saxons led 7-6.
AU scored the next 13 points to take a 20-6 lead with 10:19 left before halftime. DeRosa scored his first rushing touchdown of the year, a 15-yarder that ended a two-play, 51-yard drive with 5:27 left in the first. The extra point attempt failed and Alfred led 13-6. Dwyer scored on a five-yard run on the Saxons' next possession to cap a 13-play 88-yard drive and give Alfred a 20-6 lead.
Utica marched 80 yards in 10 plays and scored with just under seven minutes left in the second. Benkwitt tossed an eight-yard TD pass to Acevedo and the Pioneers had drawn within a touchdown, at 20-13. Alfred answered immediately, with Dwyer taking the ensuing kickoff up the right side, cutting to the middle and sprinting untouched for an 85-yard touchdown return.
The Saxons led 34-13 at halftime, as senior quarterback T.J. Kilcarr connected with sophomore wide receiver Justin Oliver with six second left before intermission. Smith wrapped up the day's scoring with a 21-yard TD pass from Kilcarr with 2:41 left in the third.
Kilcarr finished the day 12-of-19 for 160 yards and a pair of touchdowns for a Saxon offense that did not turn the ball over once. Oliver (59 yards) and junior tight end Adam Schutz (Geneva, NY/Geneva) (46 yards) each caught four passes and Smith caught two passes for 31 yards.
Benkwitt completed 27 of 38 passes for 228 yards, two TDs and two interceptions. Acevedo caught 12 passes for 103 yards and two scores and tight end Matt Dunn (72 yards) and tailback Jake Larson each caught five passes. Larson ran for 43 yards on 13 carries as Utica was held to a net 26 yards rushing.
Senior linebacker Nick Clark had a team-high nine tackles (1.5 for loss) to lead a Saxon defense that held Utica to 261 yards of offense, 170 under its season average. Junior tackle Mike Raplee had seven tackles (1.5 for loss) and a sack, and senior linebacker Wes Smith had five tackles, including a sack. Junior free safety Jon Jackson had six solo tackles and senior cornerback Alec Currier and senior safety Ryan Quinlivan each had interceptions.
Linebacker Dana Christofferson had a game-high 16 tackles (one for loss) to lead the Utica defense. Strong safety Luke Manolescu had 12 tackles and linebackers Genaro Scampone and Ryan Hansen each had eight.