The Alfred State football team used big plays as they defeated Anna Maria 30-28 in the final home game of the 2018 season.
Anna Maria took the opening kickoff and drove 76-yards to get on the board first. Michael Lopez capped the drive with a five-yard run. The Pioneers answered back on their third possession of the game following a short punt into the strong winds at Pioneer Stadium. Ronnie Clark (Philadelphia/Indian River) raced in from 20-yards out on a wildcat play to make it 7-6 (extra point was blocked).
Early in the 2nd quarter, Alfred State drove deep into Anna Maria territory but the AMCATS put together a defensive stand and forced a field goal attempt. Ryan Shipherd's (Randolph) 21-yard field goal gave the Pioneers their first lead of the game 9-7.
On their next possession, AMC answered right back with a 15-play, 68-yard drive capped off by one-yard dive into the endzone by Alex Cohen to retake the lead. The Pioneers answered right back and headed into halftime with a 16-14 lead when Carter Harman (Liberty/Liberty) connected with Cade Marks (Wellsburg/Elmira) on a 28-yard scoring pass play.
Alfred State was unable to put any points on the board in their first possession of the 2nd half but Bladimir Vargas (Washington Height/Law and Public) forced a fumble on the punt and Owen Davis (Lansing) recovered the fumble to set up the Pioneers deep in Anna Maria territory. Clark capitalized on the turnover one play later when he burst through the line and scored from 22-yards out to make it 23-14.
Late in the 3rd quarter, Lopez capped a seven-play drive with a 10-yard scoring run to make it a two-point game, 23-21, heading into the final 15 minutes.
Harman found Jalen Long (Rochester/Bishop Kearney) wide open over the middle of the field with just over ten minutes left in the contest to add to the Pioneers lead. The 60-yard connection made it 30-21.
Anna Maria didn't go away and Lopez's third touchdown of the game, from one-yard out, cut the lead back to two with just 5:17 remaining in the game. Alfred State was able to pick up two 1st downs on their next possession but were forced to punt the ball back to the AMCATS with 1:22 remaining. Anna Maria picked up a pair of 1st downs but were unable to keep the momentum going as the Pioneers defense held on for the victory.
Clark had a monster day for the Pioneer offense. He rushed 34 times for 209 yards and two scores. Clark's effort led to his first collegiate game with more than 100 yards. Harman completed just three passes on the day (3 for 9) but passed for 102 yards. Long had just one catch for 60 yards and is now over 900 yards (917) on the season.
John Lauretti (Seaford) led the Pioneer defense with 12 tackles (nine solo) and a pair of sacks. Kyle Backert (Lancaster) had 11 tackles, Austin Parker (Port Byron) had nine tackles and Brockton Weist (Hapursville) chipped in eight tackles and one sack.
Lopez finished with 84 yards and three scores on 23 carries while Cohen was 21 for 40 for 228 yards. Hayed Braga led the AMCATS with six catches for 77 yards. Nedron Payne led AMC with 12 tackles while Tyshaw Anderson made eight stops. Daniel George was credited with two sacks.
Alfred State out-gained Anna Maria 332 to 317. The Pioneers forced the only turnover in the game and recorded three sacks in the contest.
Prior to the game the Pioneers honored 12 players playing in the final home game of their career.
The blue & gold will wrap up the 2018 season with a 1 p.m. kickoff at Castleton next weekend.