Saints Beat Buffalo State, Finish Season 5-5
Tyler Grochot threw 26 touchdown passes in 2019, one shy of the St. Lawrence University football program record for a single season. But in the end, it was his first rushing touchdown of the season that gave the Saints a 31-26 win over Buffalo State in both teams' season finale on Saturday afternoon. Grochot capped a seven-play, 70-yard drive with a 4-yard quarterback keeper to score the final points of the game with just 1:05 left in the fourth quarter. Buffalo State drove down to the St. Lawrence 20-yard line on the next possession, but Saints' senior captain Tyler Burns secured the victory with an interception at the edge of the end zone with just 13 seconds to play. With the win, the Saints finished the 2019 season with a .500 record both overall and in conference play (5-5 overall, 3-3 Liberty League). Buffalo State finished the season 1-9, 1-5. "I'm really proud of the 2019 football team," said Saints' head coach Dan Puckhaber. "We never gave up on the season. We started 0-2 and finished 5-5. This is a testament to the leadership of the senior class." The game was a wild one from the start. Buffalo State's Martin Bailey scored on a 3-yard run on the Bengals' first drive of the game, but Ricky Hober blocked the PAT attempt, and Kyle Frimel returned it for a two-point conversion for the Saints to make the score Buffalo State 6, St. Lawrence 2. The Saints took a 9-6 lead on their first possession of the game when Cameron Edwards caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from Grochot. Buffalo State responded with another touchdown on its next drive, as Praise Prawl hauled in a 4-yard scoring pass from Zak Ciezki. The Bengals missed the PAT attempt and led 12-9. St. Lawrence came right back down the field to tie game on a 36-yard field goal by William Manory early in the second quarter, and the scored remained 12-12 until the fourth quarter. The Saints took a 19-12 lead on a 68-yard touchdown pass from Grochot to Anthony Ferraro with eight minutes to play. Ciezki hit Jordan Evert with a 10-yard touchdown pass two minutes later, and the Bengals had a chance to tie the game, but Caleb Null blocked the PAT attempt to preserve a 19-18 lead. Jamie Battaglia restored the Saints' 7-point lead with a 4-yard touchdown run with just 4:41 to play, but the Saints missed the PAT. Evert caught his second touchdown pass of the day, this time from 13 yards out, with 2:23 to play, to cut the lead to one. After seeing two blocked PAT attempts and another off the mark in their first three attempt of the game, Buffalo State opted to go for a 2-point conversion to take the lead. The Bengals appeared to fail on the attempt, but a pass interference call gave them another opportunity, and Evert caught the conversion pass to give Buffalo State a 26-25 lead to set up Grochot's game-winning drive. The sophomore quarterback drove the Saints 70 yards on seven plays in just 1:18 of playing time, completing passes to Andrew Murphy for 12 yards, Edwards for 27 yards and Joseph Viscardo for 11 yards. He attempted to hit Ferraro, but the Bengals were called for pass interference, setting up first-and-goal at the 5-yard line. After a 1-yard rush by Battaglia, Grochot called his own number for the game-winning score. Grochot finished the day 25-for-48 passing for 328 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Ferraro caught 10 passes for 150 yards, and Murphy added 87 receiving yards on seven catches. Battaglia posted his second 100-yard rushing game of the season, gaining 149 yards on a season-high 23 carries. Ciezki was 32-for-48 passing for 327 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He also led the Bengals rushing game with 62 yards on 15 attempts. Evert had 19 catches for 256 yards. Burns led the Saints' defense, pairing 10 tackles with his game-clinching interception. Trevor van Leer added nine tackles, while Sean Murphy had eight tackles, including 3.5 behind the line of scrimmage and one sack. Rahmod Johnson had an interception and three tackles. Devin Delmont led the Bengals' defense with 10 tackles. Grochot, who already owned single-season records for pass attempts, completions and passing yards, padded those statistics to finish 247-for-426 for 2,978 yards on the season. His 26 touchdown passes this season trails only Mike Lefflbine's 27 in 2015. Andrew Murphy finished the year with 885 receiving yards, second only to the program record of 921 set by Kurt Lanning in 1989.