Football team pounds 24th-ranked Buff State
BUFFALO, NY -- The Alfred University football team played its Empire 8 Conference opener Saturday afternoon at Buffalo State and whipped the at 24th-ranked ranked Bengals, 40-17.
Alfred (2-1, 1-0 Empire 8) put up 553 yards of offense, including a whopping 401 on the ground, against a Buff State defense that came in allowing 422 yards per game. Buff State (2-2, 0-1 E8), coming off a 7-6 upset of then-No. 1 ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater, was averaging 459 yards of offense; AU limited the Bengals to 364, forced three turnovers and held them to 10 points below their scoring average.
AU junior fullback Chuck Beckwith (Victor, NY/Victor) ran for a career-best 177 on just eight carries, with touchdown runs of 31, 52 and 80 yards Each of Beckwith’s long scoring runs came in the second half, when Alfred rallied from a 10-7 halftime deficit.
The Saxons opened the scoring on a big special teams play. Junior wideout Jonathan Ruffin (Copiague, NY/Copiague) blocked a punt at the Buff State 29-yard line and senior defensive back Andy Ruddock (Attica, NY/Attica) scooped up the ball and returned it 18 yards for the score, staking AU to a 7-0 lead just 4:50 into the game.
Buff State answered on its ensuing possession, scoring on a 63-yard pass. AU had a chance to answer two possessions later, marching 88 yards in seven plays to get to first-and-goal at the Buff State 1-yard line. But four carries yielded no yards and the Saxons turned the ball over on downs with 3:28 left in the opening frame. AU senior tailback Tyler DeRosa (Miller Place, NY/Miller Place) had 72 yards on three carries during the drive.
Alfred broke the game open in the third quarter, scoring touchdowns on three of its four possessions in the period and outscoring the host team 20-0 to take a 27-10 lead heading into the final frame. Alfred didn’t let up in the fourth, scoring two TDs in three possessions and holding the Bengals to seven points.
AU took the lead for good (13-10) with 12:23 left in the third on a one-yard pass from junior quarterback Zach Sopak (Falconer, NY/Southwestern) to senior tight end Adam Schutz (Geneva, NY/Geneva), which capped seven-play 60-yard drive to open the second half. AU punted on its next possession before Beckwith scored the first two of his three TD runs to boost Alfred’s lead to 27-10 with 1:15 left in the third.
Buff State scored a TD that made it 27-17, but the Saxons closed out the game’s scoring with a pair of unanswered touchdowns: Beckwith’s 80-yard run with 12:12 left and a 10-yard scoring pass from Sopak to freshman wideout Meleke Fuentes (Olean, NY/Olean) with 1:15 remaining.
AU junior tailback Austin Dwyer (Hornell, NY/Hornell) had 92 yards rushing on 22 carries and DeRosa with 77 yards on five carries. Sopak completed 12 of 24 passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns and Schutz had five catches for 43 yards. Fuentes had a pair of catches for 51 yards and junior wide receiver Josh Phillips (Camillus, NY/West Genesee) caught a 35-yard pass.
Buff State quarterback Casey Kacz threw for 225 yards – he came in averaging 381 yards over three games – with one TD and an interception. The Saxon defense also held Bengal star receiver Ryan Carney in check. He came in with 23 catches for 409 yards but was limited to two receptions for 29 yards. Manny Brooks had a pair of catches for 87 yards and tailback Rich Peete ran for 71 yards on 15 carries.
Senior free safety Jon Jackson (East Amherst, NY/Bishop Timon) led the AU defense with a game-high 11 tackles (two for loss) and an interception. Junior linebacker D.J. Welch (Avon, NY/Avon) and senior strong safety Reggie Pressley (Rochester, NY/Gates-Chili) each had 10 tackles; Ruddock had nine (1.5 for loss); and senior nose guard Mike Raplee (Dundee, NY/Dundee) and senior end Chris Steeves (Rochester, NY/Gates-Chili) each had five tackles and a sack.
Tawone Williams led Buff State with 10 tackles and Pasquale Vacchio and Eddie Weiser each had eight.
Alfred is off next weekend and returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 6, at 1 p.m. at home against Ithaca on Homecoming Weekend.
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