ALFRED, NY – The Alfred University Saxons (7-3, 5-2 Empire 8) pummeled the Hartwick Hawks with 627 yards rushing en route to a 63-21 win in their regular season finale on Saturday in Yunevich Stadium.
The regular season finale in Yunevich Stadium was a game filled with record setting performances. Overall, AU ran for 627 yards on offense, shattering the previous single-game record (482) set against Hobart in 1990. The Saxons were only 14 yards short of tying the previous total offensive yards gained in a single-game (641 against Hobart 1990).
"First and foremost, we determined coming into this week that our game plan was that we wanted to play the most physical brand of football that we can possibly play and, offensively, that usually means running the ball," Head Coach Bob Rankl said. "Our offensive line came out and created some big holes and we have a couple of outstanding running backs that don't need a lot of space and when we gave them a little crack, they were off."
Senior Maleke Fuentes (Olean, NY/Olean) led the Saxon attack with 295 yards on the ground, breaking the previous school record of 282 yards in a single-game by Chaz Bruce '04 against Norwich in 2004. Fuentes also tied the school and Empire 8 records for touchdowns in a single game (5). Jesse Raynor '03 is the only other Saxon to have scored five rushing touchdowns in a game – a feat he completed twice in his career. He completed the achievement against Canisius in 2000 and Utica in 2001. Raynor still stands as the school's all-time rushing yards leader (3,865).
AU attempted one pass in the game, which came on a broken punt play in the fourth quarter, which ended incomplete.
Four AU runners accumulated at least 90 yards in the game. First-year Nas Smith (Auburn, NY/Auburn) had 138 yards and a touchdown, sophomore Aaron Griffin (East Elmhurst, NY/Holy Cross) ran for 96 yards and a touchdown and sophomore Casey Boston (Brooklyn, NY/Midwood) notched 90 yards and two touchdowns. The team combined for nine rushing touchdowns on the day.
The Saxons opened the game with 21 unanswered points coming on three rushes from at least 30 yards out. Fuentes has the first and third scores from 31 and 64 yards out, respectively. Boston scored the second touchdown on a 30-yard run.
The Hawks finally got on the board in the second quarter when Billy Pine found Koree Reed in the back of the end zone. Reed pulled the ball in over top a Saxon defender that had their hands on the ball, denying the interception. AU scored again only two minutes later on a 25-yard run by Boston.
Hartwick came back within two scores following a 92-yard kickoff return by David Val Alstine – his second kickoff return of the year. However, the Saxons were unwavering and added another score before the halftime break on a Fuentes four-yard run. At the half, the Saxons held onto a 35-14 lead.
Fuentes continued his career day with a 14-yard score to open the second half, marking his fourth touchdown of the afternoon. The Hawks found the end zone a minute later, only to have it answered by yet another rushing touchdown from Fuentes. With 8:28 to go in the third quarter, Fuentes had found pay dirt five times in the game.
AU carried its momentum through the fourth quarter, scoring two more rushing touchdowns by Smith and Griffin, bringing the score to 63-21, where the game finished.
Pine led the Hawks with 256 yards on 23-of-34 (67.6%) passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Chase Weichman pulled in nine receptions for 104 yards while Brad Garcia caught six passes for 93 yards and a touchdown.
The Saxons were dominant at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The AU defensive corps held the Hawks to -39 net rushing yards in the game. Senior A.J. LiCata (Lake View, NY/Frontier) paced the Saxons with 10 tackles (five solo; five assisted), including his 400th career tackle mid-way through the third quarter. LiCata also pulled down an interception for the third consecutive game, marking his fourth interception in that time.
AU amassed nine sacks on the day with senior Ty Timmerman (Corning, NY/Corning East) leading the way with 2.5 sacks for a loss of 24 yards. Sophomore Nick Milgate (Hilton, NY/Hilton) had 1.5 sacks for a loss of 12 yards.
Conor Vlasaty and Chris Goudy headed the Hawk defense with 10 tackles each. Josh Wilcox, Mark Hackett and Matthew Scotman had the only tackles for a loss in the game for Hartwick.
Senior Trevor Monk (Liverpool, NY/Liverpool) was a perfect 9-for-9 on PAT's in the game – tying an Empire 8 record. He was only asked to punt once in the game, hitting a 31-yarder. He kicked the ball off 10 times for 501 total yards (50.1 yards per attempt).
"I'm really proud of how the guys showed up today and I thought it was a great way to send our seniors off here at Merrill Field," Coach Rankl said. "I can't tell you how proud I am of this year's senior class. They are a great group of kids, they are a great group of leaders and they are a great group of football players. They have done a lot for Alfred University football over the past four years and I'm really proud to be associated with that group of young men."
The Saxons will now wait for news regarding an ECAC bid. If they are to earn the postseason appearance, the game will occur next weekend (Nov. 17-19) at the University of Delaware as part of the ECAC D3 Football Fest. AU's last ECAC appearance was in 2015 against Fitchburg State in New Britain, CT where the Saxons pulled out an 11-10 win. AU has not missed the postseason since 2014 and has not lost an ECAC game since 2012.