ALFRED, NY – Hartwick's football team gave two-time defending Empire 8 champ Alfred everything it could handle on Saturday, but Eric Rockwood's fourth field goal of the game in overtime was the difference as the 23rd ranked Saxons edged the Hawks, 32-29, at Merrill Field. The loss drops the Hawks to 2-3 overall and 0-2 in the Empire 8 Conference. The Saxons are 4-1 and 1-1.
The Hawks battled back from an 8-point deficit to tie the score at 29-29 late in the contest thanks to a 16-play, 84-yard drive. Senior quarterback Dan Brainard (Oswego, NY/Owego Free Academy) found Chris Hoose (Leeds, NY/Cairo-Durham HS) in the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown to pull the Hawks within two, 29-27, with 3:43 remaining. Brainard then connected with senior wide receiver Jordan Wilkins (Portsmouth, NH/Hyde School) for the two-point conversion.
Hartwick got the ball first in overtime and after three short gains, the Hawks faced a 4th and 3 from the Saxon 18. Alex Tesoriero (Rensselaer, NY/Columbia HS) came on to kick the 35-yard field goal but it sailed wide left.
The Saxons got a first down on the first touch of the ball on the ensuing possession but only got one more yard over the next three plays. Rockwood would then split the uprights from 29 yards away to seal the win for AU.
The game marks just the third time in 40 years of football that the Hawks have gone to overtime and the first time since a 72-70 win at Utica in 2007.
Brainard ended the game with 227 passing yards and two touchdowns. He completed 25 of his 43 passes on the day. Wilkins made seven catches for 112 yards. Anthony Casimano (Gansevoort, NY/Schuylerville) made nine catches for 55 yards and he also ran for another 51 yards.
Linebackers Bryan Schweitzer (Babylon, NY/Babylon HS), Jordan Spirou (Westbury, NY/WT Clarke), and RJ Roth (New Windsor, NY/Cornwall Central) combined for 31 tackles 3.5 tackles for a loss, and 2.5 sacks for the Hawks. Schweitzer made a game-high 13 tackles and forced a pair of Alfred fumbles. Spirou had 10 hits, two sacks and a fumble recovery. Roth registered nine tackles.
After both teams alternated two possessions each to start the game, Hartwick broke the ice on a Brainard 1-yard keeper to cap an 89-yard drive and Tesoriero added the PAT for a 7-0 Hawk lead. Brainard hit Wilkins for passing plays of 25 and 28 yards and he also found Hoose for another 22 on the drive.
The Saxons came right back to tie it on their next possession as Tom Secky hit Tyler Derosa for a 14-yard touchdown pass.
Field goals of 24 and 26 yards from Rockwood would extend the Alfred lead to 13-7 and the Saxons maintained the six-point edge into halftime.
AU got the ball to start the third quarter but Secky was immediately intercepted by Hartwick's Pete Jackson (Groton, NY/Groton) and his return brought the ball to the Saxon eight yard-line. Brainard connected with Wilkins for eight yards on the next play from scrimmage and the Hawks were within a point.
Hartwick quickly regained the lead after the kickoff. Defensive back Ray Mitchell (White Plains, NY/White Plains HS) intercepted Secky and brought it back 40 yards for a pick six and the Hawks were in front, 21-13.
The Hawks' defense then forced a turnover, but following a 3-and-out Alfred blocked Brendan Cahill's (Airmont, NY/Albertus Magnus) punt. The Saxons kicked a field goal to shave the deficit to five, 21-16, and they took the lead on their next possession on a two-yard Nick Clark run. The two-point conversion failed and the Hawks trailed 22-21 heading into the fourth.
Austin Dwyer added to the total early in the fourth quarter with a 67-yard touchdown run and the Saxons were up, 29-21, before the Hawks tied it with the long drive with under four minutes to play.
Dwyer rushed for 119 yards for the Saxons. Secky threw for 281 yards and two scores and one touchdown.
Hartwick stays on the road next Saturday. The Hawks play at Utica beginning at 1 p.m.