The Yellowjackets closed out their regular season with a hard-fought, yet disappointing loss to Hobart College in Geneva last Saturday, losing 31-21. The loss dropped the ‘Jackets to a final record of 7-3 and 4-2 in Liberty League play.
The team found out on Monday night that they qualified for the ECAC Northwest Bowl Championship and will take on Alfred University this Saturday. It is a proud achievement for the squad, especially for several players who set single season milestones en route to the postseason berth.
Senior quarterback Aaron Molisani turned in a stellar performance, completing 20 of 28 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday. he finished his collegiate career as one of the best quarterbacks ever to play for the Yellowjackets. He is tops in nearly every passing category, including passing yards (6,034) and touchdowns (52).
Junior running back Matt Bielecki ran the ball 29 times for 132 yards and a touchdown. He finished the season with 1,262 yards rushing, which is a UR single season record. The co-captain is also the only player in Yellowjackets history to run for over 1,000 yards in back to back seasons.
Jay Jay Vanderstyne led the team in receiving for the day with 10 receptions for 119 yards and a score. The junior wide receiver finished the year with 77 receptions for 1,064 yards and 10 touchdowns. He now holds the UR single season record for receptions and receiving yards and led the Liberty League in all three categories for the season.
On the defensive side of the ball, senior linebacker Jason Goeller tallied up two sacks against Hobart and sophomore defensive back Matt Stack led the team with 5.5 tackles. Senior captain Pat Gallagher also contributed one sack. The defensive lineman led the front seven all year with his leadership and tenacity. Goeller was tops in the Liberty League in sacks with 14 on the season. Junior defensive back Jim Milks led the team this season in tackles with 54.
The game started off with Hobart striking on their first possession and jumping out to an early 7-0 lead. The ‘Jackets didn’t waste any time to respond, using a 14-play, 69-yard drive capped off by a two yard run by Molisani for the score, tying it 7-7.
It was a shootout early, as Hobart responded with another touchdown on their ensuing possession, giving them a 14-7 lead. Again, the ‘Jackets would play catch up and respond with a touchdown of their own on the next possession.
Early in the second quarter, Molisani and Bielecki ran the ball effectively against the Hobart defense, with Bielecki eventually punching it in for the score on a 21-yard run. A successful extra point attempt tied the game at 14 apiece.
The UR defense stepped up and forced a three and out when Goeller sacked the quarterback, forcing the Statesmen to punt the ball. It would be the first of two sacks for the senior on the day.
Hobart would score again late in the second quarter with less than a minute left until halftime, putting them back in the lead, 21-14. The Statesmen figured that they would be up at halftime with such little time left, but Molisani led an effective drive to tie the game again.
After a 14-yard completion to freshman receiver Zach Ingoldsby, Molisani connected with Vanderstyne on a 38-yard bomb with no time left on the clock, making the score 21-21 going into halftime. The ball was thrown up for grabs and tipped by several Statesmen defenders before eventually being caught by Vanderstyne.
If the first half was a shootout, the second half was a shutout, as the ‘Jackets couldn’t get on the scoreboard again. Hobart extended their lead to ten points and never looked back as they won the game 31-21.
Head Coach Scott Greene, a former NFL player, did an incredible job turning around a football program that had been stuck in mediocrity for over a decade. Five of the team’s seven wins were by ten points or less. This clearly showed that the team had the exceptional leadership, from the coaching staff to the team captains on down, that was necessary to win tight ballgames.
The 2006 Yellowjackets football team finished the season with their best record since 1992, when they lost only one game (9-1). Their ECAC Northwest Bowl game at Alfred kicks off Saturday at noon.
Brackney is a member of the class of 2007.