Springfield, Mass. -- November 17, 2012 -- Freshman QB Jonathan Marrero rushed for 160 yards and scored two touchdowns to lead his Springfield College football team to a 31-8 victory over Alfred University this afternoon in the ECAC Division III Northeast Bowl Championship game at SC's Amos Alonzo Stagg Field. SC thus finishes the season with a record of 8-3.
Alfred ends its season with a mark of 6-4.
It was the fifth time a Springfield College football team had hosted an ECAC championship game, and the fifth time the Pride came away victorious. SC had also won ECAC Bowl games in 1995, 2004, 2009, and 2010.
In today's game, Marrero was named the game MVP.
It was the ninth straight year that Springfield and Alfred had locked horns. The first eight of those years, the Pride and Saxons played because they were each part of the Empire 8 conference. But this year was SC's first as an affiliate member of the Liberty League.
The game began as a defensive struggle. It was midway though the first quarter before either team even registered a first down.
But with 4:06 left in the first, SC took over at the Alfred 40 following a poor punt. On a 2nd-and-12 from the Alfred 22, senior RB Mike Davis (Madison, Conn.) took a pitch and went around left end to the one yard line. Marrero, who hails from Boston, then leapt into the end zone for the game's first score with 2:03 left in the quarter. Ricky Peacock, a senior from Tucker, Ga., then booted home the first of his four extra point kicks -- and it was 7-0, Springfield.
Springfield would take over at its own five yard line at the start of the second period. The Pride would control the ball for the next 10:12, taking advantage of a Saxon offside penalty after a Pride punt from its own 11-yard line. Finally, following a 19-play, 81-yard march, Peacock booted home a 30-yard field goal to boost SC's margin to 10-0. There was 4:55 left to the half when that occurred.
On the next drive, Alfred was gaining some momentum when it attempted a fourth-and-two from the SC 43 yard line. But Maleke Fuentes was dropped for a loss of nine yards by SC junior LB Corey Kaiser (River Vale, N.J.), and suddenly the momentum was regained by Springfield with a first down at the Alfred 48
SC employed the fullback combo of senior Joel Altavesta (Tewksbury, Mass.) and freshman Louis Fenaroli (Newtown, Conn.), pounding the ball to the Alfred 24. On a first down, it was freshman RB Andrew Alty (Norwood, Mass.) who took a pitch for 18 yards to the Alfred 6.
Two plays later, Marrero rushed to the right side for a score to make it 17-0 with just 19 seconds before the half. And that's how it remained through the intermission.
SC piled up 205 yards and had run 43 plays to just 85 yards on 21 plays for the Saxons by the half.
Alfred had the initial possession of the third quarter, but punted it away after making one first down. SC began another drive, but a Marrero interception (just his second of the season) halted that march in the end zone.
Two plays later, senior LB Kevin Shields (Melville, N.Y.) recovered a fumble, and SC began another drive from the Saxons' 33. Just seven plays later, Altavesta plunged over from one yard out giving SC a 24-0 lead with 4:48 left in the third quarter.
As the third quarter was winding down, Alfred took advantage of its biggest play of the game. junior return man Jonathan Ruffin (Copiague, N.Y.) returned a punt 55 yards to the Springfield four-yard line as the quarter ended. Two plays later, Fuentes scored from two yards out. Junior QB Joe Enslin (Blairstown, N.J.) then hit senior TE Adam Schutz (Geneva, N.Y.) for the two-point conversion, and with 14:21 left in the game it was now 24-8.
On the very next drive, Springfield marched 69 yards in eight plays behind Marrero and Fenaroli. Marrero ran for 48 of those yards and Fenaroli 17, including the last six for a TD with 10:09 remaining, making it 31-8. And that proved to be the final score.
Springfield rushed for 361 yards, adding 29 yards through the air for 390 total yards. Alfred finished with 64 yards on the ground, 144 through the air for 208 total yards. SC had 22 first downs to Alfred's nine, and won the battle of possession time, 39:22 to 20:38. SC ran 77 plays to just 46 for the Saxons.
Marrero, just named the Liberty League Rookie of the Year a few days ago, led all rushers with 160 yards and two TDs on 25 carries, good for 6.4 yards per carry. Altavesta, just named to the Liberty's League's First Team as a fullback, ran for 83 yards and one TD on 24 carries. Fenaroli added 46 yards and one TD on 12 carries. And Davis had 37 yards on seven carries.
For Alfred, Malcolm Downey led the ground attack with 28 yards. Sophomore QB Tom Dzielski (Grand Island, N.Y.), who came on in relief of Enslin in the fourth quarter, completed seven of 12 passes for 94 yards. He did throw two interceptions, however. Enslin was 2-of-8 for 50 yards through the air. Schutz had five receptions for 89 yards.