November 12, 2011

Hobart's Defense Carries Statesmen Past Rochester

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Hobart College used a strong defense, including five takeaways and four sacks, to post a 24-10 victory over the University of Rochester at Edwin Fauver Stadium. The win booked a spot in the NCAA Division III playoffs for Hobart as well.

The Statemen finished 5-1 in the Liberty League (7-1 overall), tied with Union College for first place. Hobart won the Liberty League's automatic (Pool A) bid to the playoffs on the basis of a win over Union on October 8. It is Hobart's first Liberty League title since 2008 and its seventh league title overall. 

Rochester finished 4-5 overall, 3-3 in the Liberty League.

The game was far from an offensive showcase. Between them, the teams had nine giveaways (four by Hobart) which led to 17 points. Hobart gained 288 yards in offense – 131 rushing and 157 through the air.  The Statesmen lost both fumbles – one led to Rochester's opening touchdown – and were just two of 16 on third downs.

Rochester fumbled the ball four times. The Yellowjackets lost two fumbles and a third bobble came in the end zone, leading to a Hobart safety and a 16-10 lead for the guests. Rochester rushed for 96 yards and passed for 116 more. The Yellowjackets were 2 of 15 on third downs.

Nick Strang completed 10 of 21 passes for 155 yards for Hobart. He was intercepted twice and threw one touchdown – a 33-yarder to Elvin Souffrant in the second quarter that put Hobart ahead, 14-7. Kelly Olney replaced Strang midway through the third quarter. He completed one of six throws, gaining two yards.

Bobby Dougherty rushed 17 times for 50 yards for Hobart. Steven Webb gained 29 yards on 13 carries and scored on a one-yard run in the second quarter, tying the score at 7-7.

Kevin Hearon had two interceptions for Hobart. He returned the second one 36 yards for a touchdown with 11:35 to play. Kelly Olney rushed for two points, giving the Statesmen a 24-10 lead. 

Clarence Onyiriuka rushed 11 times for 64 yards and one touchdown for Rochester. His three-yard TD run 5:19 into the game put the Yellowjackets ahead, 7-0. It came after Tony Ortega recovered a fumble by Webb at the Hobart 41. The Yellowjackets needed 10 plays to get into the end zone, the key being a one-yard plunge by Chris Bickford on 4th-and-1 from the four. Onyiriuka scored on the next play.

Strang completed a 23-yard pass to Junior Woodard on 2nd-and-23 from the Hobart 47 late in the first quarter. It set up the Statesmen on the Rochester 30. Webb gained four on a 4th-and-2 to keep the ball moving. Strang completed two short passes around his own seven-yard keeper. Webb scored from one yard out to tie the score at 7-7 with 13:21 left in the second.

Soufrant pinned the Yellowjackets deep in their own end with a punt to the Rochester 8. UR went three-and-out and Mike Carson punted to the Rochester 35. On 2nd-and-8, Strang hit Souffrant down the left sideline for the go-ahead TD, 14-7, with 7:24 left.

Late in the quarter, Rochester's Shola Fakorode intercepted Strang at the Rochester 7. Onyiriuka rushed three times for a net of 35 yards. Braezen Subick completed two passes, and Hobart hurt itself with two penalties that gave Rochester first downs. Alex Antonucci kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired, bringing Rochester within 14-10 at halftime.

The offensive struggles both ways were epitomized by play early in the third quarter. On the third play, Onyiriuka was stripped by Reggie Robinson and Gianni Contro recovered at the UR 44. Six plays later, Strang was intercepted by Jordan Honjiyo at the UR 2. Rochester mishandled the ball in the end zone and Byron Saggese fell on it, giving Hobart a safety and a 16-10 lead with 10:22 left.

Defensively, Robinson had 14 tackles (11 solo) and forced one fumble. Tyree Coleman had six tackles, including three sacks. Drake Woodward has six tackles, one interception, and one pass breakup.

For Rochester, Zach Cicero had eight tackles (all solo). Kobie Hamm also had eight stops (six solo) and Bill Campi had seven solos.

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