What was once viewed by many as the UR football team’s weakness, the defense, has now proven to be one of its strengths. For the second weekend in a row, the UR defense only allowed a single score.”As the games this year have shown, the offense has the capability to put big points on the board, so if the defense plays well, we will win the game,” junior linebacker Matt Simon said.The performance of the entire defensive unit led to a 38-6 victory over the United States Merchant Marine Academy, bringing their overall record to 3-3 and giving the team their second league victory in a row. UR is now 2-1 in Liberty League action, good enough for third place in the conference.Two early red-zone interceptions by junior defensive back Michael Dermody paced the Yellowjackets’ defensive dominance. While neither picks led to scores, Dermody saw the plays as vital to the team’s effort.”They were definitely important because they shifted momentum very early and set the tone for the game,” Dermody said. Dermody added five tackles and two other pass breakups en route to earning Liberty League Defensive Player of the Week honors. The team as a whole held USMMA to 110 yards on six of 20 passes, in addition to making four interceptions.Simon also had a career day on Saturday. The linebacker had 16 tackles on the day, including one sack, placing him second in the Liberty League in both total tackles and sacks. Simon’s focus on the team’s efforts left him unaware of his individual accomplishment.”You know if the defense is doing well as a whole, but you don’t really realize if you are playing well individually during a game,” Simon said. “Everything happens so fast, you come off the field after a drive and you can hardly remember everything that just happened.”Simon’s performance was a key contribution for the UR defense.”Simon’s game was huge,” Dermody said. “He played great defense, and came up with some big plays that our defense needed.”The defense accompanied another superb performance by junior quarterback Aaron Molisani and the UR offense. Molisani contributed four touchdowns – three passing and one rushing – and threw for 207 yards, completing 14 of 28 passes.Offensively, junior wide-out Nate Gibbons, who had four catches totaling 76 yards and one touchdown, led the Yellowjackets in receiving. Gibbons’ classmate, junior David Ferris, added another 25-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter. Sophomore running back Pat O’Brien contributed 52 yards of total offense and two scores as well.This weekend’s victory was a vital league win for the team’s postseason aspirations.”Winning this week keeps our playoff hopes alive,” Simon said. “Every single game left this year is a league game we need to win to have any chance at the postseason, so every game we play is a championship game.”After taking this weekend off, UR will look to follow its defense to victory once again as it travels to Worcester Polytechnic Institute for a Liberty League match.Allard can be reached at dallard@campustimes.org.

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