St. Lawrence University sophomore Maurice Irby scored a pair of touchdowns on Saturday, while the defense was outstanding again as the Saints football team improved to 4-1 thanks to a 14-10 win over the University of Rochester at Leckonby Stadium. The victory keeps St. Lawrence tied atop the Liberty League standings, and was the first over the Yellowjackets since the 1998 season.
Rochester (2-2) had numerous chances throughout the game, but managed only 10 points on five trips to the red zone. First-year student Alec Dietsch had another brilliant outing with 12 tackles, while senior Obi Nwaigwe had eight tackles including 5.0 for a loss and 3.0 sacks.
"I'm really proud of this group. We beat a good football team today, and got great effort from everybody," said St. Lawrence head coach Mark Raymond. "Defensively, we made some critical stops when we needed them, and the offense moved the chains when we had to."
Dean Kennedy had a solid game at the quarterback spot for Rochester, completing 24-of-44 passes for 293 yards, but was sacked five times and lost a fumble. St. Lawrence quarterback Mike Lefflbine was 16-of-33 passing for 134 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Thomas Hayes led all receivers with 95 yards on nine catches for Rochester, while senior Mike Tateosian led St. Lawrence with 61 yards on six grabs.
Special teams also played a major role in the game, as St. Lawrence won that battle thanks to Brodie Corless and Joe Battaglia. Corless averaged nearly 40 yards for 10 punts including two inside the 20 and one that put the Yellowjackets inside the 5-yard line with just over 1:00 minute remaining. Battaglia helped set up a score thanks to a 15-yard punt return.
The two teams exchanged turnovers and punts on the first four drives before St. Lawrence took over at the 50-yard line thanks to Battaglia's 15-yard return. From there, Irby was the workhorse, as back-to-back rushes went for 24 yards followed by a 15-yard touchdown reception to give the Saints a 6-0 lead with 8:29 to play in the first quarter. Collin Shapiro added the extra point for a 7-0 game.
The St. Lawrence defense would shine throughout the first half, forcing a turnover on downs on the ensuing possession and then two punts from the Yellowjackets. The Saints inherited the ball at the Rochester 34 with 8:44 left in the second quarter, and after a completion to Colby Johnson were in the red zone at the 11. An end-around pass from Johnson to Lefflbine would get the ball to the 1-yard line, where Irby punched it in for the 13-0 lead. Shapiro's extra point make it 14-0 with 7:42 to go until intermission.
Rochester would get on the board before halftime thanks to a 25-yard field goal by Mark Torosian to cap the scoring at 14-3. Even that score, though, seemed unsatisfying, as the Yellowjackets had 1st-and-goal at the 4-yard line and failed to convert.
The Saints' offense would struggle to stay on the field in the second half, as they went the entire third quarter without a first down. Though Nwaigwe and the defense did all it could, including another stop inside the 5-yard line, Rochester eventually got back into the game with a touchdown with 6:16 to play in the third. The Yellowjackets went 49 yards in 11 plays, capped by a 2-yard run by Devin White on a pitch to the left for the touchdown. Matt Pasternak's extra point was good, bringing the score to 14-10.
Kennedy would again get the Yellowjackets inside the 20 looking for their first lead early in the fourth quarter, but the St. Lawrence defense stiffened again and forced a 37-yard field goal try from Torosian that missed. Irby would finally help the Saints move the chains a few times on back-to-back drives to run some time off the game clock. After Lefflbine was a yard shy of a first down, the Saints turned to Corless who pinned the Yellowjackets back at their own 4-yard line with 3:14 remaining in regulation with no timeouts.
Though Kennedy would connect with Mason Parmelee for a 23-yard pick up on first down, short completions would keep the clock moving until finally the QB spiked the ball to stop the time at 3.9 seconds. Rochester's final bid came on a hook-and-ladder play over the middle, as Kennedy found Hayes for 17-yards before the lateral went to Derek Wager, who was hauled down at the St. Lawrence 23-yard line to end the game as the Saints erupted onto the field to celebrate.
The Saints, now 4-1 for the first time since 1985, will look to extend their two-game win streak next weekend when they host the Rensselaer Engineers during "Homecoming Weekend" on Saturday, October 12 at 1:00pm. The Engineers were unable to play their game this weekend against the United States Merchant Marine Academy due to the government shutdown. Rochester is slated to take on the USMMA next weekend in Rochester, NY.