ALFRED, N.Y. – The Castleton University football team's woes continued Saturday afternoon as the Spartans dropped an Eastern Collegiate Football Conference contest at Alfred State by a final score of 21-15 at Pioneer Stadium.
The Spartans fall to 0-7 with the loss, including an 0-3 mark in ECFC action, while Alfred State improves to 3-5 overall and 1-2 in the ECFC. Alfred State gained 15 first downs to Castleton's 14, but Castleton outgained the Pioneers 329-235, including a 140-63 edge in rushing yards. Both sides converted four third downs, and Castleton scored on all four of its trips to the red zone.
Matthew Hesford ran for 111 yards on 13 carries—and 8.5 yards per carry average—while Jacob McCarthy threw for 189 yards and a touchdown. Dylan Ellis was on the receiving end of the score, finishing the day with three catches for 90 yards. Simon Davis Jr. reeled in five catches for 66 yards in addition to 42 yards on the ground, while Anthony Martinez was held in check with just two catches on the day.
Seth Gewanter racked up 14 tackles on the day, including a game-high nine solo stops. Dustin Rock had nine total stops with 2.5 tackles for a loss, while Andrew Genier added 2.5 tackles for a loss of his own. Luc Issa had four tackles and an interception, while five players in total registered a sack. Castleton's six sacks as a team were tied for second-most in a single game in program history.
Dashown Wilson threw for 172 yards and a pair of touchdowns with two interceptions, while Shy'rel Broadwater was on the receiving end of seven passes for 125 yards and a touchdown. Darrius Nichols reeled in two catches for 30 yards and a score. Ronnie Clark was the Pioneers' leading rusher, going for 44 yards and Jake Palmer scored on one of his two carries on the day.
Julian Marun had eight total tackes, as did Rylie Van Fleet. Van Fleet also had five pass breakups in the contest. Three others added seven tackles each for Alfred State, including Brockton Weist who had a pair of tackles for a loss.
Castleton opened the scoring on the day on its first drive, marching down the field 34 yards in eight plays before Andy Kenosh drilled his first of three field goals on the day. McCarthy found Davis Jr. for 18 yards and a first down to the Alfred State 15-yard line, but Castleton managed nothing more and settled for the 31-yard field goal to go ahead 3-0.
The lead was doubled to 6-0 on the Spartans' next drive, when Kenosh was good on his second field goal of the afternoon. After Castleton took over on downs at their own 41-yard line, McCarthy connected with Ellis for 49 yards down to the 10-yard line. A roughing the passer penalty advanced the ball to the 5-yard line, but Castleton was unable to punch it in and again settled for a field goal, this time from 22 yards, and a 6-0 lead late in the first quarter.
The six-point advantage held through halftime and into the third quarter before Alfred State took its first lead of the day with 5:24 to play in the frame. The Pioneers bled 7:29 off the clock on a 14-play, 99-yard drive to take a 7-6 edge. Following a Mike Morgan punt that pinned Alfred State at its own 1-yard line, the Pioneers moved the ball down the field steadily. A 35-yard completion to Broadwater put the Pioneers into Castleton territory before the drive was capped with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Nichols.
Castleton answered on the ensuing drive, retaking the lead, 12-7. Davis Jr. opened the drive with three consecutive carries for a total of 14 yards before McCarthy found Davis Jr. on a pass for 23 yards to the Alfred State 26. The duo connected again two plays later as Castleton moved the ball to the 10-yard line. Three plays later, McCarthy found Ellis for a nine-yard score, giving Castleton the lead yet again.
The 12-7 advantage was short-lived, as Alfred State responded on the very next drive. Derek Ecklund returned the kickoff 68 yards to the Castleton 22-yard line, before Broadwater reeled in a pass along the sideline for a 21-yard completion to the 1-yard line. On the ensuing play, Palmer powered home a one-yard run to put the Pioneers ahead 13-12. Alfred State went for the two-point conversion on the play, but Castleton stuffed the rushing attempt to keep the deficit at just one to end the third quarter.
After empty drives by both teams, Castleton regained the lead 15-13 on Kenosh's third field goal of the game. Davis Jr. started the drive with a nine-yard rush, before Hesford ripped off a 36-yard run to the Alfred State 26-yard line. After another seven-yard gain by Hesford, McCarthy connected with Martinez for 10 yards to the 9-yard line. A one-yard rush and a pair of incomplete passes forced a fourth-down and a field goal try from 25 yards for Castleton.
Alfred State answered once more on the next drive, as Wilson completed each of his three passes and ran for 16 yards in a drive that culminated in a 32-yard touchdown catch by Broadwater. The Pioneers were successful on the two-point conversion, giving them a 21-15 lead with 5:09 to play, a score that held until the final whistle.
The Spartans return to action next Saturday at Dave Wolk Stadium against Anna Maria. Kick-off is slated for 2 p.m., with a Senior Day ceremony taking place prior to kick-off.