GREENVILLE, Pa – Dean Kennedy completed a three-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Hayes, then ran for the game-winning two point conversion with 15 seconds to play to lead the University of Rochester to a 28-27 victory over Thiel College.
The Yellowjackets (1-0) marched 57 yards in 12 plays for the winning score. It came one drive after the Yellowjackets fumbled the ball away inside the Tomcat 10 yard line and saw Thiel recover it.
"Dean's such a great leader," said Rochester head coach Scott Greene. "After we fumbled the ball, he said on the sidelines 'Keep your head up. We're going to drive down and score.'"
Kennedy completed 23 of 39 passes for 228 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted once. He ran 10 times for a net of 97 yards. Nick Perpignan ran 16 times for 69 yards and scored two TDs. Hayes caught eight passes for 64 yards. Farid Adenuga had five catches for 73 yards.
For Thiel, Josh Potter rushed for 58 yards on 20 carries and Josh Wannamaker gained 47 yards on 16 tries. Andrew Smith completed 14 of 24 passes for 181 yards and two scores. Smith ran for 23 yards, including a 10-yard TD in the third quarter.
Defensively for Rochester, Thomas Marone had 12 tackles and Tony Ortega had 10. Brandon Wolfe had 10 tackles for Thiel.
Thiel scored touchdowns on each side of halftime to build a 24-13 lead. Matt Fedzen caught a bubble screen from Smith and turned it into a 54-yard TD with 15 seconds left in the first half. That put the Tomcats ahead, 17-13, after Jon Fennick's PAT was good.
The Tomcats drove 62 yards in 10 plays with the second half kickoff to open a 24-13 lead. Smith completed three passes in the drive, then scrambled 10 yards for the touchdown with 9:08 left in the third.
Kennedy marched Rochester 69 yards in 12 plays to pull the Yellowjackets within 24-20. He completed four passes and ran three times for 27 yards. Perpignan went three yards off left tackle for the TD and Matt Pasternack kicked the PAT.
Fennick kicked a 21-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter for a 27-20 lead for the Tomcats. After an exchange of punts, Rochester drove from its own 34 down to the Thiel 15. On third-and-two, Perpignan ran inside the 10 but had the ball stripped and recovered by R.J. Malson with 6:11 left.
Rochester forced a punt and the Yellowjackets started on their own 43 with 3:02 to play. Perpignan ran nine yards for a first down over midfield on fourth-and-two to keep the drive alive. He gained five yards in a third-and-one on the Thiel 19, and eventually ran for six yards setting up first-and-goal from the two in the waning seconds.
On second-and-goal from the three, Kennedy lofted a pass to the left corner of the end zone that Hayes caught as he jostled with a defender. After a timeout by Thiel, Kennedy playfaked to the left, then bootlegged to the right and just stretched the ball inside the pylon as a defender closed in.
An illegal block on the kickoff return pushed Thiel back to its own 20. The Tomcats ran a hook-and-lateral from Smith to Ron Howard, moving the ball to the 48. A desperation pass deep down the right sideline for Howard fell incomplete as time expired.