The UR football team (7-4, 4-2) traveled to Alfred University to take on the Saxons in the ECAC Northwest Bowl Championship days before Thanksgiving break. The result was a 40-34 ‘Jackets overtime loss in what ended up being an offensive shootout in which both teams combined to put up nearly 700 yards of offense.

The Yellowjackets got strong performances from their star players on offense. Senior Aaron Molisani passed for 239 yards and two touchdowns, junior Matt Bielecki ran for 128 yards and two scores and junior Jay Jay Vanderstyne made eight catches for 64 yards and a touchdown.

After trailing 3-0 in a stagnant first quarter, the UR offense got on the board when Molisani connected with Vanderstyne from 13 yards out for the touchdown. The extra point attempt was blocked and returned by Alfred for a safety, making the score 6-5 in the ‘Jackets’ favor.

On Alfred’s ensuing possession, sophomore defensive back Matt Stack came up with a huge play when he intercepted an Alfred pass and returned it 55 yards for the touchdown. It was the second interception returned for a score for Stack this season. The ‘Jackets’ lead was then 13-5.

Bielecki got his first touchdown with less than a minute left in the second quarter. Alfred countered with a score of their own, making the score 19-11 early in the third quarter. After the UR defense forced a three-and-out, the offense took over and it didn’t take long for them to get back on the scoreboard.

After a nine-yard run by Bielecki, Molisani connected with freshman wide receiver Mike Coolbaugh for a 50-yard TD pass. The ‘Jackets converted the two point conversion, making the score 27-11 and giving UR a very comfortable lead.

The defense couldn’t come up with another stop, however, as Alfred responded with a touchdown of their own. Bielecki found the end zone for his second score of the day, extending the ‘Jackets lead to 34-19 at the end of the third quarter.

The fourth quarter, unfortunately, was all Alfred as the Saxons rallied to tie the score at 34 and force overtime.

In the overtime period, NCAA rules allow for both teams to have at least one possession. The ‘Jackets got the first opportunity to score starting with the ball at Alfred’s 25-yard line. The offense couldn’t get anything going, however, as they could only muster one yard from scrimmage and were forced to attempt a 41-yard field goal.

Freshman kicker Griffin Moar’s attempt fell short, and the Yellowjackets’ hopes of winning rested on the defense’s ability to stop the Saxons. Unfortunately, however, those hopes were erased on Alfred’s very first play, as they ran from 25 yards out for the game winning touchdown.

Not many teams in UR’s long history of football have accomplished as much as the 2006 team did. The team may have ended the year with a loss, but this past season was, without question, the start of a special era in Yellowjackets football, and a season to remember for the team’s 22 graduating seniors.

Brackney is a member of the class of 2007.

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