Big 2nd Half Propels Pioneers to Victory over Spartans

The Alfred State football team used a big 2nd half as they defeated Castleton 21-15 on Saturday afternoon.

Castleton put together two scoring drives in the 1st quarter to account for the only points in the 1st half. The Pioneer defense held both of their drives to field goals as Andy Kenosh connected from 31 and 22 yards to make it 6-0.

Neither team could get on the board in 2nd quarter but things picked up after halftime. After forcing a three and out in the opening possession of the 2nd half, the blue & gold put together an impressive 14-play, 99-yard drive to take the lead. Dashown Wilson (Bronx/DeWitt Clinton) capped the drive when he found Darrius Nichols (Brooklyn/South Shore) in the back of the endzone. Nichols' diving catch tied the game and Michael Zimmerman's (Canandaigua) extra point gave the Pioneers their first lead.

Castleton regained the lead on their next possession when Jacob McCarthy connect with Dylan Ellis on a 9-yard scoring play with 58 seconds left in the 3rd quarter. The two-point conversion was stopped by Alfred State. Derek Ecklund (Panama) returned the ensuing kickoff 68 yards to help the Pioneers answer right back 52 seconds later. Jake Palmer (Albany/Voorheesville) dove in from one-yard out to make it 13-12 (two point conversion failed) with six ticks left in the 3rd.

With 8:29 left in the contest, Kenosh connected on a 25-yard field goal to once again give Castleton a 15-13 lead. The Pioneers answered back on their next possession when they put together a six-play drive that was capped by a Wilson to Shy'rel Broadwater (Syracuse/Cicero North Syracuse) 32-yard pass play to give Alfred State a 19-15 lead. Wilson and Broadwater connected on the two-point conversion to make it a six point contest.

The Pioneer defense did the rest as they stopped the Spartans on a pair of possessions in the final 5:09 to seal the victory. On the final meaningful play of the game, Brockton Weist (Harpursville) and Robert Augustin (Brooklyn/Midwood) combined on a sack on a 4th and 4 at the Castleton 47.

Wilson finished the day 11 for 21 for 172 yards and two scores. Broadwater recorded his second straight 100-yard receiving game finishing with seven grabs for 125 yards and a score. Nichols had two big catches for 30 yards and a score. Ronnie Clark (Philadelphia/Indian River) finished with 44 yards on the ground on 10 carries.

Matthew Hesford led Castleton with 111 yards rushing on 13 carries while McCarthy finsihed 16 for 37 for 189 yards. Simon Davis Jr. caught five passes for 66 yards and rushed for 42 yards.

The young Pioneer defensive backfield was big in the game. Julian Marun (Baldwin) and Rylie Van Fleet (Maine Endwell) both finished with a team high eight tackles. Van Fleet was credited with five pass break-ups while Marun had three. Weist finished with seven tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble while Paul Portorreal (Buffalo/Cheektowaga) had seven tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble.

Seth Gewanter led the Spartans with 14 tackles while Dustin Rock finished with nine. 

The Spartans had a 329-235 advantage in yards but the Pioneers forced two big turnovers and accumulated 152 yards on kickoff returns.

The Pioneers hit the road for the final time in 2019 next Saturday when they battle at Dean College (Franklin, MA). Opening kickoff is at Noon.