ALFRED, NY ‑‑ The Alfred University football team opened up a big lead on visiting RPI, then held on for a 32-20 win Saturday afternoon at Yunevich Stadium.
The Saxons improved to 2-0 with the non-conference win, overcoming 14 penalties along with numerous other miscues. Trailing 26-20, RPI was driving for a potential go-ahead score late in the fourth, but Alfred's defense, which was stellar for most of the game, forced the Engineers to turn the ball over on downs with just over two minutes remaining. The Saxons closed out the scoring with a touchdown with less than a minute remaining.
A steady downpour that began a before kickoff and lasted well into the fourth quarter caused havoc for both teams. Errant and mishandled snaps resulted in four botched punts for the Saxons, allowing RPI to score safeties on two as the ball went through the AU endzone and a third off a blocked punt. The teams combined for 21 penalties, with Alfred being flagged 14 times for 140 yards.
Alfred looked to run away early, as the Saxons jumped out to a 14-0 lead. After turning the ball over on downs on their first possession due to a fumbled punt snap, the Saxons got on the board following a missed RPI field goal. The Saxons drove 80 yards in six plays, with sophomore tailback Sammy Davis sprinting 56 yards to the RPI 22 to set up a 10-yard TD run by junior tailback Casey Bright that put the Saxons on the board with 7:02 left in the first.
AU made it 14-0 on its next possession. After forcing a four-and-out, AU took over at its own 44. After driving inside the Engineer 20, junior quarterback Tyler Johnson hit junior tight end Mike Brien over the middle for an 18-yard score with just under three minutes left in the opening frame.
RPI got on the board with a safety off a blocked punt with 21 seconds left in the first. AU answered with a safety of its own as sophomore cornerback Jared Watkins blocked a punt that went through the RPI endzone, putting the Saxons up 16-2 midway through the second. A 21-yard field goal by sophomore Trevor Monk with 5:37 left in the half put Alfred up 19-2. The field goal was set up by a 68-yard return by junior wideout Maleke Fuentes following the safety.
RPI scored its second safety when a botched snap a punt went through the AU endzone with 10 seconds left in the half, making the score 19-4 Alfred at the break.
AU seemed poised to pull away on its first possession of the third. On the second play of the Saxons' opening second-half drive, sophomore tailback Derelle Hunter broke free for a 62-yard touchdown run and AU led 26-4 a minute into the third period.
RPI scored two touchdowns – in the third and fourth quarters – then added a safety in the fourth to make it a 26-20 game.
AU had 314 yards of offense, including 175 on the ground. Davis had 80 yards rushing on nine carries; Hunter had 71 on eight carries and Johnson had 60 on 13 attempts. Johnson throw for 139 yards on seven completions, with junior wideout Brendan Buisch catching two passes for 116 yards.
Tailback Mike Tivinis ran for 64 yards on 21 carries for RPI. Jeff Avery threw for 111 yards and a pair of scores, to wideouts Johnny Ramsdell (three catches, 36 yards) and Joey Giacone.
Junior linebacker Holden Whitehead had 10 tackles to pace the AU defense. Senior linebacker Corry Wallace had nine tackles and Watkins had seven tackles and three pass breakups. Junior tackle Andrew Miller (Hilton, NY/Hilton) had six tackles (1 ½ for loss, one sack) and forced a fumble and sophomore linebackers Michael Joiner (fumble recovery) and A.J. Licata each had seven tackles.
Malik Joseph had 11 tackles to lead RPI, while Alex Greenidge added 10.
Alfred is in action next on Saturday, Sept. 19, at 1 p.m. at home against Buff State.