The St. Lawrence University football team suffered its first conference loss of the 2010 season on Saturday afternoon, as the University of Rochester spoiled the Saints' bid to clinch the Liberty League title by the score of 34-14 at Edwin Fauver Stadium in Rochester, NY.
The Saints, now 4-1 in conference play, can still win the conference title today if Rensselaer defeats Hobart. However, if Hobart wins, St. Lawrence can earn the championship next Saturday against WPI at Leckonby Stadium. Rochester improves to 3-5 (2-3) after picking up its third straight win.
The Yellowjackets wasted little time in pouncing on the Saints, as the home team scored 21 points in the game's first 11 minutes. Rochester recovered an on-side kick on the opening kick-off, then followed with a 58-yard touchdown pass on a flea-flicker from Tony Messana to Patrick Keegan. Zachary White-Stellato's extra point gave Rochester a 7-0 advantage only 19 seconds into the game.
After each team was forced to punt on their next possessions, junior Marcus Washington fumbled on first down and Rochester's Brok Kloeber recovered. Five plays later, Rochester was celebrating a 7-yard touchdown rush by Chris Lebano at 6:28 of the first quarter. White-Stellato added the extra point for a 14-0 cushion.
Though St. Lawrence was able to move the ball to the Rochester 39-yard line on its next drive, senior quarterback JP Kearney was picked off by Brendan Pidgeon, who returned the ball all the way for a touchdown with 4:19 remaining in what proved to be a disastrous first quarter for the Scarlet and Brown. White-Stellato's extra point capped the first quarter scoring with Rochester on top 21-0.
Rochester would stretch its lead to 28-0 on its first drive of the second quarter, as the Yellowjackets went 83 yards on 13 plays over 6:41 for another score. After quarterback Braezen Subick orchestrated the drive down to the 1-yard line, Lebano punched it in for the score. White-Stellato added the point after for the 28-point cushion.
The Saints would threaten again on consecutive drives before intermission, reaching the Rochester 5-yard line and then the 11. However, the offense would turn the ball over on downs and Kobie Hamm intercepted Kearney at the 2-yard line to keep St. Lawrence off the scoreboard.
Kearney would complete 5-of-6 passes on the Saints opening drive of the second half to cut into Rochester's lead, 28-7. The Laflin, PA native found junior Ethan Sutton three times on the drive including a 29-yard touchdown at 10:06 of the third quarter.
The Yellowjackets' defense would prove to be critical, though, as they forced St. Lawrence to punt on two straight drives, which led to a White-Stellato 22-yard field goal that extended the home team's lead to 31-7 early in the fourth quarter. Chris Bickford then intercepted Kearney in St. Lawrence territory, which the Rochester offense turned into three points again with White-Stellato good from 35-yards out. The field goal gave the Yellowjackets a comfortable 34-7 advantage with just 8:49 remaining in regulation.
Though St. Lawrence tacked on a touchdown from senior Michael Baraldi to Brendan Fitzpatrick with 48 seconds to go, it was Rochester who was able to celebrate a 34-14 victory on its "Senior Day" in front of 1,150 fans.
Rochester closed with 90 rushing yards to St. Lawrence's 20, which proved to be a key difference in the game. Four Saint turnovers also proved costly, while the Yellowjackets only coughed the ball up once. Lebano closed with 92 yards rushing, while Subick finished 16-of-23 passing for 175 yards. Kearney closed with 15 completions for 171 yards and a score, while Sutton had eight receptions for 139 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, senior Ryan Fedo led all players with 11 tackles including 2.0 for a loss. Tony Ortega led Rochester with six tackles, while Pidgeon and Andrew Kryszak added five each.
St. Lawrence will close out the 2010 Liberty League regular season schedule next Saturday, November 13 in Canton, NY against WPI. "Senior Day" kick-off is scheduled for 12:00pm.