ALFRED, NY – The Alfred University football team (6-2, 4-1 Empire 8) racked up 324 yards rushing in a 35-7 rout against the Morrisville State Mustangs in Yunevich Stadium on Saturday.
The dual-threat rushing combination of senior Maleke Fuentes (Olean, NY/Olean) and first-year Nas Smith (Auburn, NY/Auburn) added up 251 rushing yards on the day. Fuentes led the team with 146 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Smith chipped in with 105 yards and a touchdown. The performance marks the third time this season where both running backs have accumulated more than 100 yards each in a game (St. John Fisher and University of Rochester). Fuentes has rushed for more than 100 yards in five games this season and is only three 100-yard games short of tying the program record.
The Saxons wasted no time putting points up on the board, scoring on their first drive. They marched 75 yards on 13 plays and buried a touchdown on a fourth and goal attempt from one yard out. Fuentes dodged the Mustang defenders that crashed the middle and found the end zone, putting AU ahead by six. Senior Trevor Monk (Liverpool, NY/Liverpool) added the extra point, giving the Saxons a 7-0 lead only 7:20 into the game.
AU doubled its lead in the second quarter, capitalizing on an interception by sophomore linebacker Nick Milgate (Hilton, NY/Hilton) at the 35-yard line. Milgate returned the ball to the 15, setting the Saxons up with favorable field position. Junior Bryce Morrison (Kennedy, NY/Randolph) completed two of three passes on the drive and found sophomore fullback Merlin Thomas III (Albany, NY/The Albany Academy) on a three-yard pass for the touchdown with 37 seconds left on the clock before halftime. It is the first receiving touchdown of Thomas' career.
The Saxons intercepted the ball again on the next drive when junior Eric Graham (Cheektowaga, NY/Maryvale) pulled down a William Flatow pass and returned it 37 yards to the Morrisville 43-yard line. However, AU was unable to score before the clock ran out. The Saxons maintained a 14-0 lead at the intermission.
Morrisville started with the ball in the third quarter, but Milgate read a Flatow pass and returned it 40 yards to the end zone for a pick-six. Monk converted the PAT, and put AU up 21-0 with 12:29 remaining in the third quarter.
The Saxons continued to pile on in the third quarter after senior A.J. LiCata (Lake View, NY/Frontier) snagged his first interception of the 2017 season at the Morrisville 45-yard line. Smith capped off the drive with a nine-yard run, increasing the AU lead to 28-0.
The Mustangs finally got on the board in the fourth quarter when Nick Edmond powered in on a one-yard rush during third down after being held with no gain on the previous play. Kinsey Williams added the extra point, bringing the game to 28-7.
Fuentes increased the Saxons' lead on the next drive after AU posted four rushes for over 10 yards each. Fuentes ripped through the Morrisville defense from 17 yards out, giving the Saxons a 35-7 lead. AU carried the momentum the remainder of the game, shutting out its opponent down the stretch. The Saxons earned their fourth Empire 8 win of the season, 35-7.
AU earned 356 yards of total offense, including 324 on the ground. The Mustangs gained 284 yards of total offense – 124 yards short of their 2017 average (408) coming into the game. The Saxons earned 21 first downs, rushing for 18. Both teams were 6-of-12 on third down conversions, while AU went 1-for-1 on fourth down and Morrisville when 0-for-3.
Morrison threw for only 32 yards on 11 attempts and six completions. Flatow amassed 177 yards on 18-of-35 (51.4%) passing. He was unable to find the end zone and threw four interceptions.
Junior linebacker Cole Reed (Gratz, PA/Upper Dauphin Area) led the Saxons with 13 tackles (four solo; nine assisted), including a half tackle for a loss. Milgate was unstoppable on the day with nine total tackles (three solo; six assisted) and two interceptions returned for 60 yards and a touchdown. LiCata added nine tackles of his own (five solo; four assisted). Michael Bodnar was the leading tackler for the Mustangs with 12 (eight solo; four assisted) on the day. Jermaine Rankin earned the only sack of the game.
Monk kicked three punts, totaling 126 yards (42.0 per attempt) including a 51-yard punt. He pinned Morrisville inside their 20-yard line once. Flatow served as the punter for the Mustangs, punting twice for 74 yards (37.0 yards per attempt).
The Saxons are back in action next week when they travel to Brockport to take on the No. 11 Golden Eagles at 12PM on Bob Boozer Field.