AU at Springfield, ECAC Northeast Bowl, Game Notes
ECAC Northeast Bowl Championship
Alfred University at Springfield (MA) College
Saturday, Nov. 17, 12 p.m.
Last meeting: 2011, Alfred win, 30-22, at Alfred
Last week: AU: Win, 30-13, at Hartwick;
Springfield, Win, 62-23, at WPI
Saxons Offense: 25.4 points per game
Saxon Defense: 16.7 points per game
Pride Offense: 37.7 points per game
Pride Defense: 23.3 points per game
Players to watch: Alfred University — Joe Enslin, JR, QB; Demetrious Houanche, FR, TB; Adam Schutz, SR, TE; Maleke Fuentes, FR, WR; Josh Phillips, JR, WR; Mike Raplee, SR, NG; Chris Steeves, SR, DE; Reggie Pressley, SR, SS; Jon Jackson, SR, FS. Springfield College — John Marrero, FR, QB; Joel Altavista, SR, FB; Mike Davis, SR, HB; James Poggio, JR, WR; Phil Baier, SR, WR; Kevin Shields, SR, LB; Mike Dublin, SO, DE; Sam Weiss, JR, FS; Max Nacewicz, SO, DE.
Key matchup: Alfred’s run defense (allows 92 yards rushing per game) against Springfield’s triple-option attack that has produced 339 yards on the ground per contest. As a team, Springfield has 39 rushing touchdowns and will be going against an AU defense that has allowed only six all season and held Hartwick to zero net rushing yards last weekend…Alfred freshman WR Maleke Fuentes, who has 252 yards rushing the last two contest while running the Saxons’ Wildcat offensive formation, against a Springfield defense that allows 163 yards rushing per contest. Alfred comes in averaging 197 yards per game on the ground…Alfred’s pass offense (160 yards per game) against a Pride defense that gives up 172 yards passing per game...AU offensive line, which has allowed 19 sacks this season, vs. a Springfield defense that has 34.
Game notes: Saturday’s game is the ninth between AU and Springfield. AU holds a 6-2 advantage in the previous eight games, all played when Springfield was a member of the Empire 8 Conference from 2004-11. The last time these two teams met, in 2011, host Alfred prevailed, 30-22. The last time the two teams met in Springfield, in 2010, Alfred won, 42-21. AU and Springfield have two common opponents this season: St. Lawrence and RPI. Springfield won its two games against those teams, while Alfred split, winning at St. Lawrence and falling at RPI in the Saxons’ season opener. Springfield is the alma mater of AU head coach Dave Murray, who played there as a linebacker four seasons before graduating in 1981. Murray, in his 15th season as Alfred’s head coach, earned his 100th career coaching win at AU last weekend at Hartwick
About the Saxons: Alfred is 6-3 overall and with last weekend’s win at Hartwick, finished 5-2 in the Empire 8, which placed the Saxons second in the final league standings. AU is seeded fifth of six teams playing in three ECAC North championship games.
The Saxons are averaging 357 yards of offense per game (160 passing; 197 rushing). With its top two runners (junior tailbacks Chuck Beckwith and Austin Dwyer) lost to season-ending injuries on Oct. 27, the Saxons have based much of their rushing attack from the Wildcat formation led by freshman wideout Maleke Fuentes, who has run for 252 yards on just 39 carries, with five touchdowns, the last two games. Fuentes ran for 143 yards and four TDs (second-most in a single game in program history) in last weekend’s win at Hartwick. Two freshmen – Malcolm Downey and Demetrious Houanche – sit atop the depth chart at tailback. Houanche has run for 126 yards and Downey 75 over the last two games. Senior free safety Jon Jackson, an option in the Wildcat, has averaged 62 yards rushing (10.3 yards per carry) with two TDs the last two contests
QB Joe Enslin, who replaced junior starter Josh Sopak when Sopak was hurt in a loss at Utica Oct. 27, will be making his third straight start Saturday. In his previous two starts he has 414 yards passing, with three TDs and one interception; he threw for 302 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start, Nov. 3 at home against Frostburg State. Senior tight end Adam Schutz has 311 yards receiving and leads the team in catches (34) and TD receptions (four). Fuentes has 33 catches (two TDs) for a team-leading 406 yards, and junior wideout Josh Phillips has caught 25 passes for 312 yards and a touchdown.
The AU defense allows 293 yards per game and will need to be at its best against a Springfield offense that averages 410 per game. The Saxons allow a mere 92 yards rushing per game and will be up against a Pride attack that averages 339 on the ground. In the only other game AU has played against a triple-option offense (Sept. 20 loss at Salisbury), AU held the Sea Gulls, who came in averaging 284 yards, to 187 on the ground. AU has stuffed the ground games of St. Lawrence (72 yards), Ithaca (four), St. John Fisher (45) and Hartwick (zero) and will look to do the same against Springfield.
Senior tackle Mike Raplee leads the team in tackles (67), tackles for loss (19 ½ ) and sacks (11 ½) and has two forced fumbles. Senior strong safety Reggie Pressley has 61 tackles (four for loss) and two fumble recoveries. Junior Linebacker D.J. Welch has 58 tackles; Jackson (53 tackles) leads the team in interceptions with six; and senior end Chris Steeves has 50 tackles (10 for loss, 8 ½ sacks).
Fuentes averages 25.7 yards on kick returns; he and junior wideout Jonathan Ruffin each average 2.6 yards on punt returns. Junior kicker Zach Tavalaro has made 21 of 26 PATs and senior Matt Girolmo averages 34.3 yard per punt.
About the Pride: Springfield is 7-3 overall, and with last weekend’s victory at WPI, finished 4-2 in Liberty League play. The Pride are seeded second of six teams playing in three ECAC North championship games.
Springfield si averaging 410 yards per game, with the lion’s share (339) coming on the ground via the Pride’s triple option attack. The team has three players with more than 625 yards, led by senior fullback Joel Altavista’s 866 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns. Senior halfback Mike Davis has 691 yards rushing on just 73 attempts (9.5 yards per carry) with nine touchdowns, and freshman quarterback Jon Marrero has run for 634 yards and eight TDs.
Marrero has completed 22 of 43 passes for 504 yards (10 touchdowns, one interception) for a Pride team that averages 71 yards passing per game. Junior wide receiver James Poggio leads the team in receptions (13) and receiving yards (326). He and senior wideout Phil Baier (11 catches, 244 yards) share the team lead in TD catches with five each.
Springfield’s defense allows 335 yards per contest (172 passing; 163 rushing). As a team, the Pride have 34 quarterback sacks, including 13 ½ by sophomore defensive end Max Nacewicz (45 tackles, 18 ½ for loss). Senior linebacker Kevin Shields has a team-leading 69 tackles (three for loss, two sacks), while sophomore linebacker Mike Dublin has 68 (10 for loss, one sack). Junior free safety Sam Weiss has 61 tackles and leads the team in interceptions (four) and forced fumbles (two). Freshman cornerback Anthony West has 41 tackles and two interceptions.
Davis averages 14.8 yards on punt returns, while sophomore Franco Bianchi averages 23.8 yards on kickoff returns. Senior placekicker Ricky Peacock has made 43 of 48 extra point tries and four of nine field goal attempts. Freshman Tyler Rouse averages 36.4 yards per punt.
The Saxons and Pride in the ECACs: Saturday’s game will mark the eighth time Alfred has played in an ECAC Bowl Championship. The Saxons won seven of those contests (1986, vs. Plymouth (MA) State; 1989, vs. Bridgewater (MA) State; 2004, vs. Norwich; 2005, vs. Maine Maritime; 2006 and 2007 vs. Rochester; and 2011, vs. Bridgewater State) and lost one (2008, at RPI). The Saxons travelled to Bridgewater State for last year’s ECAC Northeast Bowl and rallied from an early 10-0 deficit to win, 41-10...Springfield will be playing its fifth-ever ECAC Bowl Championship game, and its third in the last four years. The Pride are 4-0 in their four previous ECAC games – all played at home – having beaten Cortland in 1995; Fitchburg (MA) State in 2004; Plymouth State in 2009; and Mt. Ida in 2010.
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