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Saxons’ season ends in NCAA playoff loss to Albright
11/21/09

ALFRED, NY — The Alfred University football team lost to visiting Albright, 35-25, in a first-round NCAA Division III championship game played Saturday afternoon at Merrill Field.

The Saxons held a 10-7 lead at the half, but played most of the game without star senior wide receiver/free safety Jared Manzer (Johnson City, NY/Johnson City). Manzer, the Saxons’ leader in receiving yards and touchdowns, interceptions and kick return yards, went out with a hip injury on the Saxons’ opening possession and did not return. The visiting Lions outscored AU 14-0 in the third to take a 21-10 lead heading into the final frame. Alfred twice closed to within three points in fourth, but Albright answered with touchdowns each time.

With the loss, in Alfred’s first NCAA playoff game in 28 years, the Saxons end their season at 8-2. Albright (10-1) will play at Delaware Valley in a second-round game next Saturday.

After a scoreless first, AU got on the board 39 seconds into the second quarter, when sophomore quarterback Tom Secky (Bemus Point, NY/Maple Grove) hit junior tight end D.J. Loughlin Pope (Corning, NY/Corning East) with a five-yard touchdown pass, capping a 17-play, 71-yard drive. Albright answered on its ensuing possession, with quarterback Tanner Kelly tossing a 51-yard TD pass to wide receiver Scott Pillar with 11:31 left in the second. AU sophomore kicker Eric Rockwood (Allegany, NY/Allegany-Limestone) closed out the first-half scoring with a 28-yard field goal with 31 seconds left.

Albright scored two unanswered touchdowns in the third to take a 21-10 lead. Quarterback Patrick Subers, in for an injured Kelly, completed scoring passes of 32 and four yards to wideout Nate Romig, the first coming 1:22 into the third and the second coming with 7:31 left in the period. Kelly completed nine of 17 passes for 160 yards and a score before leaving the game. Subers completed 11-of-16 for 163 yards and two TDs.

Alfred drove to the Albright 2-yard line late in the third, but couldn’t punch the ball in on three tries, settling for a 20-yard Rockwood field goal attempt, which was blocked. The Saxons defense forced a three-and-out, and freshman defensive back Andre McCloud (Bath, NY/Haverling) blocked Brooks Mitzkewich’s punt. AU recovered the ball at the Albright 4-yard line and two plays later, four seconds into the fourth, AU sophomore linebacker Nick Clark (Canisteo, NY/Canisteo-Greenwood) plowed in from a yard out. The two-point conversion pass from Secky to senior tailback Vinson Hendrix (Rochester, NY/East) was good and AU trailed 21-18.

Albright answered right back, taking the ensuing kickoff to the AU 47-yard line and scoring two plays later. A long pass from Subers to Romig put the ball at the AU 1-yard line and a play later Subers snuck in for the touchdown to make it 28-18 with 14:12 left in the game. Alfred marched 74 yards in 10 plays on its next possession, with Hendrix scoring from a yard out with 8:29 left to make the score 28-25. Albright again responded with a quick score after starting their drive at their own 47-yard line. On the Lions’ second play of the drive, tailback Josan Holmes took a handoff, sprinted around the right side and scampered 46 yards down the sideline for the touchdown and the game’s final points.

AU had held Holmes and the Lions’ rushing attack in check up to that point, limiting them to 17 net rushing yards through the first three quarters.

Albright would finish with 90 yards on the ground, 70 of them tallied by Holmes. Kelly and Subers combined for 323 yards passing and the Lions didn’t turn the ball over, while forcing two Saxon miscues. Secky finished with 229 yards on 21-of-33 passing with one touchdown and a pair of interceptions. Hendrix tallied his school single-season record-tying eighth 100-yard game of the season with 116 yards on 29 carries. Senior wideout Milton Harding (Binghamton, NY/Johnson City) had seven catches for 52 yards and junior wideout Ryan Thon (Victor, NY/Victor) added 76 yards on six catches.

Romig finished with a game-high 11 catches for 193 yards and two scores for Albright. Fullback Tyrell Drumgo added three catches for 25 yards.

Senior safety Nick Barton (South Glens Falls, NY/South Glens Falls) had a team-high 11 tackles (nine solo) for the AU defense. McCloud and sophomore cornerback Alec Currier (Peru, NY/Peru) each had five solo and junior linebacker Chad Pieri (LeRoy, NY/Caledonia-Mumford) (four tackles) and senior linebacker Marc Mangovski (Kirkville, NY/East Syracuse-Minoa) (five tackles) each had a sack.

Cornerback Josh Hare had a game-high 13 tackles and strong safety Brendan Bresnahan had eight tackles and a pair of interceptions to lead the Lion defense. Ends Chris Meccariello and Jon Linn each had six tackles and a sack.