The St. Lawrence University football team went into the locker room at halftime of "Senior Day" tied with nationally-ranked No. 7 Hobart College on Saturday at Leckonby Stadium in the Saints' 2012 Homecoming Game. However, the Statesmen scored on their first four drives of the second half to take control of the game en route to a 34-14 victory to clinch the Liberty League title and an NCAA Tournament berth.
Hobart, ranked No. 1 in the region, improved to 9-0 (6-0) with the win behind quarterback Nick Strang, who was 15-of-18 passing for 233 yards and three touchdowns. The Saints fall to 0-9, as the Statesmen defense sacked quarterback Danny Metzgar five times.
"I'm really proud of the way our guys battled," said St. Lawrence head coach Mark Raymond. "That is one of the best teams in the country on both sides of the ball and we made them earn it today."
Hobart finished with the edge in total offense (370-249), as eight receivers caught passes from Strang led by Junior Woodard's six receptions for 83 yards and a score. Metzgar was 9-for-25 passing for 152 yards and a touchdown to Mike Tateosian. Colby Johnson finished as the game's leading receiver with 113 yards on three catches. Hobart's Steven Webb was held in check by the Saints' defense (62 yards), while Pete Nesbitt led the home team on the ground with 50 yards.
The first half was arguably the best half of football the Saints have played this season, as they controlled the possession and tempo, opening up a 7-1 advantage in first downs. Though neither team scored in the opening quarter, the Saints appeared to be ready to take the lead on a 30-yard field goal try. However, the holder, Zach Migliore, stood and fired a beautiful pass downfield to Evan Shifley for a touchdown on the fake which gave the Scarlet and Brown a 6-0 lead with 7:48 to play in the first half. Senior Chris Dris added the extra point.
Hobart, which couldn't get much going offensively in the first quarter, would respond with a touchdown drive of its own to tie the score at 7-7. The visitors went 67 yards in nine plays with the key play coming on 3rd-and-8 when Strang found Troy Robinson for 23 yards. Strang would rush in from five yards out for the tying touchdown, with James Hull adding the extra point to cap the first half scoring.
The third quarter belonged to the nationally-ranked Statesmen, as they came out clicking on both sides of the ball to blow the game open. After taking the opening drive of the second half in for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead on a four yard completion to Yosh Karbowniczak, the defense forced a three-and-out. Hobart then needed only six plays to go 72 yards, with Woodard catching a Strang pass from 21 yards out, pushing the lead to 21-7 to cap the third quarter scoring.
Hobart would score on its next two drives as well, as Dominique Ellis crossed the goal line on a 4-yard rush and Mike Berkowitz caught a 6-yard touchdown pass. Hull added one extra point but had the other blocked, giving Hobart a 34-7 lead with 5:18 to play in regulation.
St. Lawrence would convert a 4th-and-15 on a deep pass downfield from Metzgar to Johnson for 50 yards to keep its ensuing drive alive. Metzgar would then find Tateosian on 3rd-and-goal with 3:21 to go for a Saint touchdown, with Dris' extra point making it 34-14. The Saints got the ball inside the Hobart 2-yard line in the final minute, but could not punch it into the end zone, falling by the score of 34-14.
Tyre Coleman and Troy Johnson were tough along the defensive line for St. Lawrence, as all three of Coleman's tackles went for a loss in the game. Andrew Klindera had 10 tackles to lead the Statesmen, matching St. Lawrence's leading defensive player, Joe Napolitano. First-year student Leondre Simmon added an interception for the Saints, while Jolyon Davis also had a pick for Hobart.
Saturday's game was the last home contest for the Saints' football team's class of 2013, which includes Robert McCourt, Houston Judd, Jesse Clark, Don Rohauer, Stephen Buskey, Tyler Swertfager, Chris Dris, Will Chapman, Ryan LaHue, Oraene Morgan, Greg Kelly, Zach Migliore, AJ Blaisdell, Derek Delzer, Dan Kent, Joe Napolitano, John Petosa, Aaron Lawton and Taylor Zappia.
Also prior to kick-off on Saturday, the Saints' football program presented a check for $7,675 to the United Service Organization of Fort Drum in Watertown, NY. The team hosted a "Tribute to the Troops" earlier this fall, donating the proceeds from the event to the USO, a group dedicated to lifting the spirits of troops and their families, while providing support to "Operation Enduring Care."
St. Lawrence will complete its 2012 season next Saturday, November 10, when the team heads to Kings Points, NY to take on the Mariners of the Merchant Marine Academy. Kick-off of the annual Hoffman Cup game is scheduled for 1:00pm.