Courtesy of athletics.SJFC.edu
ALFRED, N.Y. – The St. John Fisher College football team came away with four interceptions and held Alfred University to just four completions as the Cardinals picked up their first road win since 2016 with a 28-14 victory at Yunevich Stadium on Saturday. With the win, Fisher improved to 2-6 overall and 2-4 in the conference standings while Alfred fell to 5-4 on the season and 4-2 against conference opponents.
The Cardinals’ defense had its way with Alfred as Fisher’s four interceptions were its most since November 23rd, 2013 when it defeated John Carroll in the NCAA Championship. Head coach Paul Vosburgh‘s team also created havoc in the backfield with three sacks, which was the team’s most since its last win against Hartwick on October 13th.
Justin Wheeler led the way with 12 tackles including five-and-a-half for a loss. Wheeler had two sacks on the day and forced a fumble. Durrell Hutcherson made the start at linebacker and was credited with seven stops in all while William Riechert had six tackles and a pass breakup. Demarre Nelson (East Rocheester) was all over the field with four tackles, two interceptions and a pass breakup while Matt Rioux and Zack Loomis each hauled in one interception apiece.
On the offensive side of the ball, Fisher possessed the ball for 33:13 and totaled 213 yards on 68 plays. Alejandro Utset made the start at quarterback and was 14-for-30 for 129 yards and a pair of touchdown tosses. Wyatt Stehle led the receiving corps with six grabs for 75 yards and his first touchdown of the season while Cam Cleveland (East Rochester) had three catches for 16 yards. Pat Galer had one big reception that resulted in a 16-yard touchdown pass.
On the ground, Malachi Duvall (Webster Schroeder) led the charge with 44 yards while Cleveland had three rushes for 17 yards and a touchdown.
After winning the coin toss and deferring to the second half, Fisher forced Alfred to punt on its opening possession, but ended up giving the ball back as the Saxons recovered a fumble and took over at the Fisher 17. The home team needed just one play to get on the board as the Saxons sprinted 17 yards to hold an early 7-0 edge.
Alfred held Fisher on the ensuing drive, but was unable to add to its lead as Wheeler busted through and sacked the signal caller for an eight-yard loss that forced the Saxons to punt.
Following a shanked punt, Fisher took over at the Alfred 15 and strung together three plays including a 12-yard pass in traffic to Stehle to knot things up at 7-7 heading into the second quarter.
Neither team was able to get much going to begin the period as Fisher and Alfred traded possessions over the first five minutes. Following a 34-yard punt from Michael Burton, the Saxons took over at their own 10, however, Nelson stepped in front of a pass on third down and returned it 25 yards for the pick-six as Fisher vaulted ahead, 14-7.
Trailing by seven, Alfred found a rhythm on its next drive and used eight plays to move the ball 60 yards, but the Saxons were unable to put points on the board as a botched snap on a field goal attempt gave the Cardinals the ball back with 4:40 remaining in the half.
Fisher made the most of its opportunity as the Cardinals orchestrated a four-play, 52-yard drive that was capped off by a 16-yard pass from Utset to Galer on a slant route over the middle to send both teams into their locker rooms with Fisher holding a 21-7 advantage.
Coming out of the break, Fisher received the kickoff, but turned the ball over with an interception at its own 27. From there, Alfred moved the sticks with a 23-yard rush before punching it in with a run up the gut to pull to within 21-14.
As the quarter wore on, Fisher was able to pin Alfred deep inside its own territory with a 52-yard punt from Burton as the Saxons began their drive at their own four yard line. With its heels on its own goal line, Alfred wasn’t able to move the ball as Fisher plugged the middle and forced a punt. The kick, however, only sailed eight yards as Fisher was set up with good field position and took over at the Alfred 15. From there, the Cardinals used just one play as Cleveland worked an end-around and scurried into the end zone to make it 28-14 late in the third.
Fisher’s defense continued to show its speed in the fourth quarter as the Saxons were unable to gain much ground. Of Alfred’s four possessions in the final quarter, the Saxons were only able to muster 31 yards – 30 of which came on their final drive.
The Cardinals’ special teams were clicking on Saturday as Burton punted seven times and pinned the Saxons inside their own 20 on five occasions. Willy Stevenson had three returns on the day for 47 yards including a 19-yard scramble while Joe Dotterweich converted all four of his extra point opportunities.
The Cardinals will close out their season at 1 p.m. on Saturday when they host Buffalo State in an Empire 8 contest at Growney Stadium. The game will have added significance as the Cardinals will celebrate their senior class before kickoff and are set to honor the latest Hall of Fame class during halftime.