ALFRED, N.Y. - The University of Rochester tied a school record dating back 41 years – and in the process, claimed its first victory of the 2018 football season.
Rochester intercepted six passes –four by Robert Grant – and went on to a 20-14 victory over Alfred State College. It is the fifth time in UR history that the Yellowjackets intercepted six passes. The last occurrence happened in 1977 at St. Lawrence. Previous to that, Rochester had six picks vs. Washington & Jefferson in 1942, vs. Brockport in 1974, and vs. Alfred in 1976.
Adam Baghi and Jordan Caviness had solo interceptions for Rochester. Grant's four INTs are one shy of the single-game record of five, set in 1976 by Bill Monroe against Alfred (when UR had six as a team).
Grant had one interception in each quarter. When he captured his third swipe – midway through the third period – he became the first Rochester player to intercept three in a game since Brian Daboll did it at Case Western Reserve in the 1995 opener. Daboll is the Offensive Coordinator for the Buffalo Bills.
Rochester need the strong defense because after building a 20-7 lead with 8:09 left in the fourth, the Yellowjackets yielded a six-play, 69-yard TD drive that brought ASC within 20-14, with 5:06 to go.
Alfred State faced third-and-20 on its next possession from the 19. Dashown Wilson's pass to midfield was intercepted by Baghi at the ASC 46. The Yellowjackets ran down the clock and punted, giving the Pioneers the ball at the ASC 23 with 14 seconds left. A penalty moved it to the 38 with seven seconds left. Darrius Nichols entered the game at quarterback for ASC. His deep pass downfield was intercepted by Grant as the horn sounded.
The win gives Rochester a record of 1-2 and is the first UR win for head coach Chad Martinovich. UR returns to Fauver Stadium next week to host Emory & Henry College.
Offensively, quarterback Matt Gallagher threw for 238 yards and two touchdowns. He connected with Daniel DiLoreto on a six-yard pass with 35 seconds left in the half to give UR a 10-0 halftime lead. With 8:09 remaining in the game, he threw a 31-yard TD to Connor Byrne. Dawson Klinger made both UR PATs and hit two field goals – from 33 and 24 yards.
UR led, 13-0, through the third. Alfred State marched 73 yards in 9 plays to score on Dashown Wilson's four-yard TD pass to Jalen Long and Ryan Shipherd's PAT. UR answered with an eight-play, 65-yard drive and Byrne's TD (20-7, 8:09).
Alfred State, aided by a 44-yard catch and run on a screen pass from Wilson to Kiegan Brown, marched inside the UR 10 where Ronnie Clark scored on a three-yard run facing third and two.
Damon Yargeau rushed 23 times for a game-high 86 yards. Sean Mannion carried 17 times for 78 yards for Rochester. Dan Diaz had eight catches for 61 yards. Connor Byrne had six catches for 82 and one TD. Noah Shinaman had four catches for 68 yards. He made big plays in both of Rochester's TD drives. In the second quarter, he hauled in a 33-yarder from Gallagher and two plays later, DiLoreto scored for a 10-0 lead. In the fourth, with UR facing 3rd-and-7 at midfield, Gallagher found him for 18 yards down to the ASC 33. After a short gain by Yargeau, Gallagher and Byrne hooked up on what turned out to be the decisive scoring play.
For Alfred State, Clark ran for 82 yards and one score. Brown had 57 rushing yards and Wilson gained 29.
Rochester totaled 383 yards (145 rushing, 238 passing). Alfred State had 235 (168 rushing, 67 passing).
"It's a family win," said Martinovich. "We did just enough to earn the W. The defense made plays when they had to, they were opportunistic and we scored just enough."
Grant praised the Yellowjacket front seven defensively. "This was thanks to the big boys up front," he said. "They did their job and put pressure on the other team."