By CAP CAREY
CANTON — St. Lawrence University’s big-play defense came through again Saturday, helping the Saints snap a 14-year losing streak to the University of Rochester with a 14-10 Liberty League victory at Leckonby Stadium.
A look at the statistics might make one think the Saints lost, as Rochester outgained SLU 406-264.
But nearly every time SLU (4-1 overall, 2-0 conference) needed to make a big stop on defense, it came through, as Rochester converted on just one of four fourth-down attempts. SLU’s win gave the Saints their best start to a season since 1985.
Saturday’s game was similar to SLU’s home opener against Coast Guard, which the Saints won 21-17. Only this time instead of the offense coming from behind to win, it was SLU’s defense which was asked to make a final stop.
SLU struggled on offense in the second half, failing to make even one first down until there were 9 minutes, 7 seconds left in the game.
But the Saints took over with 4:25 left in the game on their own 30 and ran a six-play, 34-yard drive that wound the clock down to 1:11, picking up two first downs on 13- and 6-yard runs by Maurice Irby.
When the final Saints series ended, punter Brodie Corless was able to pin Rochester on its own 4 and six plays later the clock ran out on the Yellowjackets’ chances.
Saints coach Mark Raymond
Rochester (2-2, 1-1) couldn’t have had a better start as R.J. Borgolini intercepted a Mike Lefflbine pass on the second play from scrimmage, giving the Yellowjackets the ball on the SLU 30.
But that merely gave the Saints defense their first chance to come through in key moments, as Shane Hart recovered a fumble for SLU on a 4th-and-1 from the Saints 21.
SLU took a 7-0 lead a bit later when Lefflbine connected with Irby on a 15-yard pass play with 8:29 left in the first half.
Rochester responded to SLU’s score with a drive of its own, reaching the SLU 18. But Yellowjackets running back Willie Roberson dropped an open pass near the end zone on a 4th-and-15 play to stall another drive.
Irby, who gained 67 yards on 18 carries, extended SLU’s lead to 14-0 with a 1-yard scoring run with 7:42 left in the first half.
Rochester thought it scored a touchdown late in the first half, but a nice catch in the corner of the end zone by Adam Schempp was waved off due to an ineligible receiver downfield, forcing the Yellowjackets to settle for a field goal and a 14-3 halftime deficit.
Rochester took control in the second half, receiving the kickoff and driving to the SLU 4 before another drive was thwarted, this time on a 4th-down sack by Obi Nwaigwe, which resulted in an eight-yard loss.
Rochester cut SLU’s lead to 14-10 with 6:16 left in the third on a 2-yard run from Devin White, but that would be the last score of the game.