Saxons Steamroll the Tomcats as Nas Smith Rushes for Three TD's
ALFRED, NY – The Alfred University Saxons (1-0, Empire 8 0-0) pounded the Tomcats 44-16 on Yunevich Stadium during the 2018 season opener, rushing for 247 yards and four touchdowns. The day began with Alfred University Athletics celebrating the life of 2011 graduate and New York State Trooper Nicholas F. Clark and ended with a 44-16 win for the Saxons. Sophomore Nasir Smith (Auburn, NY/Auburn) proved to be a nightmare for Thiel throughout the game, leading the Saxons with 144 yards rushing and three touchdowns. He also added one reception he converted into a 29-yard gain. Junior Aaron Griffin(Queens, NY/Holy Cross) piled onto Nas Smith's total with 47 yards rushing a touchdown while James Kerr (Syracuse, NY/West Genesee) ran for 42 yards. Junior Ben Burk (Jamestown, NY/Jamestown) earned his first start under center for the Saxons and threw for 207 yards on 13-of-20 (65.0%) passing and a touchdown. Fellow junior Casey Boston (Brooklyn, NY/Midwood) was efficient with his time in the game, throwing once for a 22-yard touchdown. Senior Cole Reed (Gratz, PA/Upper Dauphin Area) wore Nick Clark's #32 with honor in the season opener, leading the team with 11 tackles, including a half sack. Junior Nick Milgate (Hilton, NY/Hilton) and sophomore Christopher Meano (Stottville, NY/Hudson) cut down eight opponents each. Sophomore Raymond Johnson (Binghamton, NY/Binghamton) led AU with 2.0 tackles for a loss including a sack while junior Leo Pamphile (Spring Valley, NY/Spring Valley) and sophomore Sean Cameron (Brooklyn, NY/Midwood) wrapped up the opposing QB once, each. "Overall, I was happy with the physical brand of football that we played today," Head Coach Bob Rankl said. "I thought our guys came out and got after it on both sides of the ball. I don't think we were as clean as we could have been at certain times and that's something I would really like to see us work on during our bye week coming up.
Tony Clark (left) and Theresa Gunn (Right) accept gift from Alfred University Football coach Bob Rankl
The Saxons wasted no time getting out in front, scoring on their first drive. Nas Smith opened the drive with three rushing plays before the Tomcats could slow him down. Finally, Burk took his turn, stepping back and finding first-year Robert Smith Jr. (Rochester, NY/Greece Arcadia) for a 12-yard touchdown. The Saxons tacked on the extra point, taking the lead 7-0. Three drives later, AU hit their first bump in the road when an errant long snap went over Burk's head while he attempted a punt. The ball bounced around the end zone before he booted it out of bounds to minimize the damage. AU still led 7-2. The Saxons began to pour it on in the second quarter, racking up 21 points. The scoring began when Nas Smith rattled off a 37-yard run to find the end zone. AU traveled 42 yards in 49 seconds for the score. The Saxons tacked on another seven points on their next drive. Burk connected with senior Chance Olivas (Santa Barbara, CA/William Floyd) for 13 yards early in the drive to earn a first down, getting deep into Thiel territory. Two plays later, Nas Smith found pay-dirt for his second score of the game. During their next possession, Burk hit senior Jayden Gavidia (Homer, NY/Homer) for a 51-yarder to start the drive, putting themselves into position to score on the Thiel six-yard line. Right on cue, Nas Smith pounded the ball up the middle for the hat-trick touchdown, putting AU up 28-2 following the PAT. The start of the third quarter was quiet on the scoring front. However, AU returned to the end zone midway through. The Saxons tallied six run plays and 65 yards on the drive, which was capped off by a 15-yard Griffin rushing touchdown. The Saxons extended their lead, 35-2. Thiel made some noise at the end of the third quarter when quarterback Marko Bakovic hit running back Charles Debose in the flat. The play finished when Debose scampered in for the touchdown. At the start of the fourth quarter, AU led, 35-9. The Saxons maintained their advantage in the fourth quarter, chalking up nine points to the Tomcats' seven. Junior Ben Sennett(Rushville, NY/Marcus Whitman) got AU started with a 37-yard field goal, increasing the lead 38-9. Thiel answered back with a touchdown during its next possession when Bakovic hit Fred Davis for a 27-yard lob pass over the AU defense. Boston capped off the scoring with 2:21 left in the game, when he stepped back and found sophomore Keandre Sanders (Syracuse, NY/Bishop Ludden) on a corner route in the back of the end zone. The PAT was not good due to a low snap on the play. The Saxons dominated on the day with 476 total yards of offense compared to the Tomcats' 198. Overall, the AU defense held Thiel to only 10 yards rushing while terrorizing the quarterback for four sacks.