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Saxons' season ends in loss to Mount Union in NCAA quarterfinals
12/04/10

ALLIANCE, OH – The Alfred University football team lost to second-ranked Mount Union, 37-7, Saturday afternoon in an NCAA Division III championship tournament quarterfinal game.

Alfred (10-3), seeded sixth in the tournament’s East Region couldn’t advance the ball against a smothering Mount Union defense -- ranked second in the nation (198 yards per game) -- producing only 149 yards of offense on the day. The Saxons came into the game averaging 173 yards rushing, but were held to 27 yards Saturday. Turnovers hurt Alfred, as Mount Union converted four miscues into 17 points.

The Saxons took opening kickoff but after gaining a first down to their own 44-yard line, AU junior quarterback Tom Secky (Bemus Point, NY/Maple Grove) was intercepted by Mount Union’s Alex Ferrara at the Raider 37-yard line. Mount Union was forced to punt and AU took over at their own 26 with 12:39 left in the first, but turned the ball back over to the Raiders on a fumble at the Saxon 22-yard line 2:29 into the opening period. On fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line, tailback Jeremy Murray scampered around the right end for the touchdown to give the host Raiders a 7-0 lead with 10:37 left in the first.

Two AU possessions later, Mount Union linebacker Arthur Smith intercepted Secky at the Raider 32 and returned the ball to the Alfred 6-yard line. The Saxon defense held and Mount Union had to settle for a 25-yard Tyler Almeida field goal that gave the Raiders a 10-0 lead with 6:14 left in the first.

After an Alfred punt gave Mount Union the ball at their own 42-yard line, the Raiders drove to the AU 23-yard line, but on a fourth-and-one play, sophomore cornerback Jon Jackson (East Amherst, NY/Bishop Timon) broke up Neal Seaman’s pass to wide receiver Cecil Shorts at the Saxon goal line. Alfred went four-and-out and Mount Union took over at their own 37 with 26 seconds left in the first. After a punt pinned AU inside its own five about a minute into the second, the Saxons went three and out and Shorts returned the AU punt to the Saxon 10-yard line. The AU defense stiffened and on third-and-goal, Seaman was intercepted in the endzone by junior cornerback Roland O’Brien (Hoosick Falls, NY/Hoosick Falls). The Saxons drove 80 yards in nine plays, getting on the board with a 34-yard touchdown pass from Secky to freshman wide receiver Josh Phillips (Syracuse, NY/West Genesee) to make the score 10-7 with 8:14 left in the half.

Mount Union answered, taking the ensuing kickoff and driving 61 yards in nine plays, with Seaman connecting with Shorts on a 15-yard scoring pass with 3:15 left in the second. Alfred went three-and-out and the punt gave Mount Union possession at its own 31-yard line with 2:26 left. The Raiders marched down the field and Almeida’s second field goal of the game, a 25-yarder with 26 seconds left in the half, gave Mount Union a 20-7 lead at intermission.

Mount Union, the top seed in the tournament’s East Region, produced 196 yards of offense in the first half to 109 for Alfred and the Saxons had three first-half turnovers and Mount Union two. The host Raiders held a decided advantage in first downs, 20-7.

Mount Union took the second half kickoff to their own 33-yard line and Alfred forced a punt, taking over at their own 18-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, end Charles Dieseul sacked Secky at the Saxon 12, forcing a fumble that strong safety Nick Driskill returned 17 yards for the touchdown with that gave the Raiders a 27-7 lead with 10:25 left in the third.

Each team exchanged punts, with Alfred sophomore defensive end Chris Steeves (Rochester, NY/Gates-Chili) blocking Brandon Mathie’s kick at the Mount Union 43-yard line with seven minutes left the third. The Saxons couldn’t take advantage of the field possession, however, punting the ball back to the Raiders. Mount Union drove 86 yards in 14 plays -- converting a key fourth-and-five play on the drive -- with Almeida converting a 22-yard field goal try to give the Raiders a 30-7 lead. On Mount Union’s next possession, tailback Wes Ryder capped a five-play, 55-yard drive with a 20-yard TD run four minutes into the fourth, and the Raiders led 37-7.

For the game, AU had 149 yards of offense, well off its 399-yard per game average coming in. Freshman tailback Austin Dwyer (Hornell, NY/Hornell), who came into the game averaging 116 rushing yards per game, was held to 22 on 15 carries. He finished the season with 1,412 yards rushing, good for a new school single-season record (eclipsing the 1,406 yards Vinson Hendrix had in 2007). Secky completed eight of 33 passes for 122 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Sophomore wide receiver Andre McCloud (Bath, NY/Haverling) caught two passes for 36 yards and Loughlin-Pope caught two for 22 yards.

Murray finished with 122 yards rushing on 33 carries and Seaman completed 20 of 37 passes for 241 yards and a score. Shorts caught nine passes for 115 yards and a touchdown and tight end Kyle Miller caught five passes for 59 yards.

Junior linebacker Nick Clark (Canisteo, NY/Canisteo-Greenwood) led the Alfred defense with a game-high 16 tackles (two for loss, one sack). Sophomore strong safety Reggie Pressley (Rochester, NY/Gates-Chili) had nine tackles (1.5 for loss) and a forced fumble; senior linebacker Chad Pieri (LeRoy, NY/Caledonia-Mumford) had nine tackles; and. Steeves had eight tackles (one for loss). Junior Eric Rockwood (Allegany, NY/Allegany-Limestone) averaged 37.4 yards on nine punts.

End Lambert Budzinski a team-high five tackles for Mount Union. Dieuseul had four tackles (two for loss, 1.5 for loss) and linebacker Landon Herzick had four tackles and a forced fumble.