ALFRED, NY – The Alfred University football team wrapped up its 2013 season on a winning note Saturday, defeating visiting Cortland, 21-14, on the snow-covered turf at Yunevich Stadium to claim the ECAC North Central Bowl Championship.
The Saxons scored two first-quarter-touchdowns and led 21-7 after two quarters. During halftime, heavy snow began to fall and the turf remained covered throughout the second half. Cortland's third-quarter TD was the only scoring in the second half, as the teams combined for just 121 yards of offense while punting a combined seven times after intermission.
It was a much different story in the first half, during which time AU and Cortland combined for 412 yards of offense. The Saxons, who finished the year with an 8-3 record, looked to run away with the game early, as they forced a three-and-out on Cortland and then drove 59 yards in three plays, with senior tailback Tyler DeRosa scoring on an 11-yard run 2:22 into the contest. Freshman quarterback Tyler Johnson had a 48-yard run on second-and-10 to set up DeRosa's score.
AU scored on its next possession to take a two-touchdown lead, driving 53 yards in seven plays. Senior tailback Austin Dwyer capped the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run with 3:09 left in the first.
Cortland (6-5) cut its deficit in half with 4:40 left in the opening frame. Quarterback Tyler Hughes scored on a one-yard sneak on third down to cap a seven-play, 69-yard drive. Hughes' 48-yard pass to wideout John Babin to the AU 3-yard line was the big play of the drive.
Alfred used a long 80-yard drive that consumed 5:55 of the second-quarter clock, with Johnson scoring on a one-yard rush with just 30 seconds left in the half to put AU up 21-7. Johnson's 18-yard run on third down from the Cortland 40 kept the drive alive.
The Red Dragons scored on their second drive of the third quarter to make it 21-14. Cortland's drive began at the AU 17-yard line after a muffed snap on a punt attempt with just under eight minutes left in the frame. Hughes' completed a fourth-down pass to tailback Justin Autera that took the ball to the Alfred 2-yard line and Autera plunged into the endzone on the next play.
Neither team mounted much offense after that. Cortland's best chance to tie the game came with just over three minutes left in the third. After taking possession at their own 48 after an AU punt, the Red Dragons drove to the Alfred 30, but Hughes was intercepted at the Alfred 5-yard line by junior free safety Michael Perkins. Cortland punted on its next two possessions and on its final drive had the ball near midfield before AU senior cornerback Andre McCloud intercepted Hughes at the AU 22-yard line with 44 seconds remaining.
Dwyer ran for 59 yards on 17 carries with one touchdown and caught a pair of passes for 20 yards en route to being named the game's Most Outstanding Player. Johnson finished with 105 yards on 12-of-20 passing and ran for 57 yards and a TD on 18 carries. Senior wide receiver Josh Phillips caught four passes for 30 yards, while senior fullback Chuck Beckwith caught three balls for 31 yards.
Hughes completed 15 of 31 passes for 132 yards with two interceptions while also rushing for a game-high 68 yards on 14 carries. Autera finished with 32 yards on 11 attempts and Babin caught 10 passes for 104 yards.
Sophomore middle linebacker Corry Wallace had a team-high 12 tackles and sophomore cornerback Calvin Bain had 10 tackles and five pass breakups to lead the AU defense. Senior end Fred Langenstein had four tackles, including a pair of sacks, and junior linebacker Davis Turner (South Glens Falls, NY/South Glens Falls) had six tackles (one for loss).
Safety Frank Turcek had a game-high 13 tackles (one for loss) and linebacker Troy Beddoe had eight tackles (two sacks) to pace the Cortland defense. Linebacker Jesse Scanna had a sack and end Joe DeLuca had nine stops for the Red Dragons.