Men’s Football defeated Alfred State 20–14 on Saturday, Sept. 15, in a defensive battle.
The ‘Jackets defense hauled in six interceptions, four of which came from junior defensive back Robert Grant, and secured their first win of the season.
“We were just relentless in the film room and getting good reps in practice,” Grant said when asked about how he figured out Alfred State’s offense. “Once you see it over and over in a game it just becomes muscle memory.”
Grant recorded an interception in each quarter, while junior defensive back Jordan Caviness and sophomore defensive back Adam Baghi also had a pick each.
In the first quarter, the ‘Jackets rallied down the field after an interception but settled for a field goal. The ‘Jackets stopped Alfred State’s offense, and the score remained 3–0 at the end of the period.
Near the beginning of the second quarter, Alfred State sacked senior quarterback Matt Gallagher, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Alfred State. However, the ‘Jackets continued their stout defensive play and prevented a score.
With two minutes remaining in the half, the ‘Jackets drove down the field. Gallagher found first-year receiver Noah Shinaman for a 33-yard gain, then connected with Daniel DiLoreto for a six-yard touchdown.
In the third quarter, Alfred State went deep into ‘Jackets territory, but Grant intercepted a pass in the endzone. The ‘Jackets capitalized on the pick with a field goal and were up 13–0 at halftime.
In the fourth quarter, Alfred State made it interesting by scoring a touchdown after a 35-yard run.
But a 31-yard reception by sophomore receiver Connor Byrne helped the ‘Jackets respond with a touchdown.
When Alfred State got the ball back, the ‘Jackets gave up a 44-yard reception, followed by a touchdown. With five minutes remaining, the ‘Jackets only led 20–14. The ‘Jackets were able to burn three minutes off the clock, but they were forced to punt back to Alfred State.
As Alfred State attempted to score on a two-minute drill, Baghi came down with an interception. Though the ‘Jackets were forced to punt before time ran out, Alfred State’s final Hail Mary was intercepted by Grant.
Grant’s four interceptions were one short of the school’s individual single-game record set in 1976. He was also the first to have more than three interceptions in a game since 1995, when Brian Daboll ‘97, now the offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills, had three interceptions in the season opener.
“I just did my job to the best of my abilities and I knew if everyone did theirs we could come out of this game with a win,” Grant said.
Aside from Grant’s heroics, Gallagher was key to the victory, with 238 passing yards and two passing touchdowns. Junior running back Sean Mannion and first-year running back Damon Yargeau had 96 and 84 rushing yards, respectively. Senior linebacker Ricky Simcic recorded six tackles and a strip sack.
On Saturday, Sept. 23, the ‘Jackets fell to Emory and Henry College at home, 52–17. The ‘Jackets are now 1–3 and will not play again until Meliora Weekend.