Saxons runs past Rochester for 45-7 Homecoming victory

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ALFRED, NY – The Alfred University football team rushed for 423 yards in a 45-7 Homecoming Day victory over non-conference foe Rochester Saturday afternoon at Yunevich Stadium.

Alfred got 188 yards on the ground from senior tailback Maleke Fuentes on just 15 carries, with more than 100 of them coming on long touchdown runs of 49 and 58 yards. First-year tailback Nas Smith added 138 yards on 12 attempts, scoring on a 72-yard run that put the Saxons up 14-0 early in the second quarter.

For the game, the Saxons (3-0) averaged nearly 10 yards per carry and tallied 508 yards of total offense.

"Obviously, we ran the ball very well today," said AU head coach Bob Rankl. "Maleke and Nas had great individual games, but a lot of the credit has to go to our offensive line. They really stepped up and played well today."

The Saxons (ranked 17th in the national coaches poll and 23rd in the D3football.com poll) scored on their opening drive, marching 95 yards in 10 plays, with sophomore tailback Aaron Griffin scoring on a 15-yard run with just under seven minutes left in the opening frame.

Rochester (1-2) made it into AU territory on its next two drives, but came up short each time. The Yellowjackets turned the ball over on downs at the AU 33-yard line with 3:22 left in the first. The Saxons went three and out on their ensuing possession and Rochester took over at their own 40 with 2:12 remaining in the quarter. The Yellowjackets drove to the AU 10-yard line and had first-and-goal, but four plays later, a botched field goal attempt ended with AU taking over at their own 16-yard line 18 seconds into the second quarter.

After two runs and a short pass put the ball at the Saxon 28, Smith busted through the line and sprinted 72 yards for his first collegiate touchdown, giving Alfred a 14-0 advantage 1:55 into the period.

The teams exchanged punts on their next two drives, and on Rochester's third possession of the quarter, the Yellowjackets again drove deep into AU territory. But on second-and-goal from the AU 12-yard line, Rochester quarterback Matt Gallagher was intercepted at the goal line by sophomore linebacker Nick Milgate, who returned the ball to the AU 35.

After a pair of runs put the ball near midfield, AU junior quarterback Bryce Morrison connected with junior wideout Jayden Gavidia and senior wide receiver Rodney Etienne on consecutive first-down passes to the Rochester 27. On the next play, Morrison threaded a pass between two defenders, hitting Gavidia for the 27-yard TD and putting Alfred up 21-0.

AU boosted its lead to 28-0 midway through the third. After taking over at their own 39-yard line following a punt, the Saxon gained 11 yards on three plays before Fuentes scored on a 49-yard run with 7:35 left in the third.

Rochester got on the board on the Yellowjackets' ensuing drive, with Gallagher tossing a six-yard TD pass to tight end Daniel DiLoreto on fourth-and-two.

Alfred answered on its next drive, going 38 yards in seven plays before senior Trevor Monk booted a 26-yard field goal 44 seconds into the fourth to give his team a 31-7 advantage.

Alfred closed out the scoring with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns. Rochester punted on its possession following Monk's field goal and AU took over at its own 42-yard line with 12:29 left in regulation. On the first play from scrimmage, Fuentes busted off his second long TD run, scoring from 58 yards out to give the Saxons a 38-7 lead. After Rochester punted again, Alfred drove 62 yards in 12 plays, with Griffin capping off the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run with 2:16 left.

Griffin finished with 60 yards on 10 carries and sophomore backup quarterback Casey Boston had 34 yards on four attempts. Morrison finished eight-of-15 for 85 yards and a touchdown and Gavidia had four catches for 57 yards and a score.

Gallagher threw for 248 yards and a TD on 30-of-43 passing, with wideout David Angie catching seven passes for 40 yards and DiLoreto five for 50 yards and a touchdown.

The AU defense was led by senior linebacker A.J. LiCata (Lake View, NY/Frontier) with a team-high 13 tackles. First-year strong safety Raeqwon Greer had nine tackles and a forced fumble and junior linebacker Cole Reed had eight tackles (one sack). Milgate had seven tackles to go with his interception.

Linebacker Josh Churchin had 13 tackles to pace the Rochester defense. Linebacker Christian Marini had 11 tackles and safety Austin Carr had six and a pass breakup.

Alfred returns to conference play Saturday, Sept. 30, at 1 p.m. at home against Buffalo State.

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