CORTLAND, N.Y. – Freshman Austin Dwyer (Arkport/Hornell) rushed for 186 yards and a touchdown and junior Nick Clark (Canisteo/Canisteo-Greenwood) ran for three scores as Alfred University defeated SUNY Cortland, 34-20, in the NCAA Div. III tournament second round.
Alfred (10-2), seeded sixth in its eight-team bracket, will play at top-seeded Mount Union in the quarterfinals next Saturday in Alliance, Ohio. Cortland ends its season with a 10-2 mark – the third-highest victory total in school history. The Red Dragons were playing in the NCAA playoffs for the third time in six years and the seventh time overall.
Alfred junior quarterback Tom Secky (Bemus Point/Maple Grove) completed 17-of-27 passes for 211 yards and a score. Dwyer averaged 5.8 yards per carry on his 32 attempts. Clark, a starting linebacker and Alfred's "short-yardage" back, scored on three of his six carries, including a 29-yarder with 1:20 left that sealed the victory. He also led the Saxons with 10 tackles, seven solo, an interception, a sack and a pass breakup.
Cortland graduate student quarterback Dan Pitcher (Cortland) connected on 20-of-40 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns, but was intercepted three times. Senior Anthony Giuliano (Thornwood/Westlake) and sophomore Justin Autera (Mahopac) caught six passes each, while Autera rushed for 56 yards on 18 carries. Senior safety Chris Hanlon (Patchogue/Patchogue-Medford) and senior defensive end Matt Kaufmann (Lynbrook/Kellenberg Memorial) recorded career highs of 16 and 12 tackles, respectively.
Cortland's Chris Bright (East Meadow) forced and fumbled a recovery on the game's opening kickoff to give the Red Dragons the ball on the Alfred 27-yard line. Cortland drove to the 7-yard line before settling for a Marc Corrado (Newburgh/Newburgh Free Academy) 24-yard field goal and its only lead of the game at 3-0.
Alfred took a 7-3 lead with 4:59 left in the first quarter when Dwyer broke free for a 30-yard touchdown run to cap a three-play, 44-yard scoring drive. Early in the second quarter, the Saxons started a drive on their own 9-yard line. A 40-yard pass from Secky to Andre McCloud (Bath/Haverling) on 2nd-and-11 from the Alfred 23-yard line and a 23-yard completion to Ryan Thon (Victor) on 2nd-and-11 from the Cortland 38-yard line were the big plays in the drive. Clark's 4-yard run three plays after Thon's catch gave Alfred a 14-3 lead.
Reggie Pressley's (Rochester/Gates-Chili) interception on Cortland's first possession of the third quarter set up a six-play, 52-yard scoring drive. Clark's 2-yard touchdown run gave Alfred a 20-6 lead, but the extra point failed.
Cortland answered with a 49-yard drive from its own 42-yard line to the Alfred 9-yard line. Corrado made a 26-yard field goal to draw the Red Dragons within 20-6. Cortland mounted another drive with 4:54 left in the third quarter. The drive started on the Cortland 19-yard line and was aided by two Alfred 15-yard personal fouls. Pitcher completed the drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Eddie Spillett (Holtsville/Sachem East), who caught the ball near the 3-yard line and fought his way into the end zone to cut the Alfred lead to 20-13.
The teams traded punts to start the fourth quarter to give Alfred the ball on the Cortland 46-yard line. Clark barely gained first-down yardage on a 3rd-and-2 run from the Cortland 15-yard line, and on the next play Secky rolled right, then threw left to a wide open D.J. Loughlin-Pope (Corning/Corning East) for a 13-yard touchdown. The score gave Alfred a 27-13 lead with 8:27 remaining.
Cortland's next drive was stopped on a Clark interception on a deep pass by Pitcher. The Red Dragons held the Saxons and got the ball back at their own 40-yard line with 4:24 remaining. A 32-yard pass to Garrett Cade (Castle Creek/Chenango Forks) moved the ball to the Alfred 14-yard line on a 2nd-and-11 play, and two players later Pitcher found Mike Humphrey (Le Roy) wide open on the left side of the end zone for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 27-20 with 2:59 left.
Cortland's onside kickoff attempt failed as the kick by Furey only went eight yards before rolling dead. Dwyer ran for a combined nine yards on two rushes and Clark broke through the line on 3rd-and-1 for a 29-yard touchdown with 1:20 left.
Alfred outgained Cortland 436-253 in total offense. The Saxons ran for 225 yards to Cortland's 79 and passed for 211 yards to the Red Dragons' 174.
NOTEBOOK: Cortland's Justin Autera finished the season with 1,380 rushing yards, the second-highest total in school history behind Andrew Giuliano's 1,480 yards in 2008. Autera's 21 touchdowns this season are the second-most behind Giuliano's 22 touchdowns, also in 2008…Cortland recorded two sacks in the game – 1.5 by Matt Kaufmann – and finished the season with 31 sacks. The Red Dragons have recorded 30 or more sacks for each of the last 10 years…Cody Allen registered seven tackles and finished the season with 105 stops for the year…Dan Pitcher has thrown at least one TD pass in 13 of the 14 games he has started at Cortland (12 starts this season and two starts in 2009)…Alfred 13th-year head coach Dave Murray was Cortland's head coach from 1990-96 and was the Red Dragons' defensive coordinator from 1987-89. Alfred and Cortland were playing for the first time since 1986.