The Hobart football team is headed back to the NCAA Playoffs after a strong defensive performance carried the Statesmen to a 24-10 victory over Rochester at Fauver Stadium. The triumph clinched a share of the program’s seventh Liberty League title and secured the conference’s automatic bid into the postseason.
Hobart finished the regular season with a 7-1 overall record and matched Union’s 5-1 mark in the League. The Statesmen will make their sixth NCAA Championship field by virtue of a 41-24 win over the Dutchmen on Oct. 8.
It was a less than stellar performance by either offense today as the team’s combined for five interceptions (3 for Rochester), and six fumbles (4 for the Yellowjackets), including four lost (2 each).
Nick Strang completed 10-of-21 passes for 155 yards for Hobart. He was intercepted twice and threw one touchdown – a 33-yarder to Elvin Souffrant in the second quarter that put Hobart ahead, 14-7. Kelly Olney replaced Strang midway through the third quarter. He completed one of six throws, gaining two yards.
Bobby Dougherty rushed 17 times for 50 yards for the Statesmen. Steven Webb added 29 yards on 13 carries and scored on a 1-yard run in the second quarter, tying the score at 7-7.
Kevin Hearon had two interceptions for Hobart, returning the second one 36 yards for a touchdown with 11:35 to play. Olney rushed for the two-point conversion, giving the Statesmen a 24-10 lead.
Clarence Onyiriuka rushed 11 times for 64 yards and one touchdown for Rochester. His 3-yard TD run 5:19 into the game put the Yellowjackets ahead, 7-0. It came after Tony Ortega recovered a fumble by Webb at the Hobart 41. The Yellowjackets needed 10 plays to get into the end zone, the key being a one-yard plunge by Chris Bickford on 4th-and-1 from the four. Onyiriuka scored on the next play.
Strang completed a 23-yard pass to Junior Woodard on second and 23 from the Hobart 47 late in the first quarter. It set up the Statesmen on the Rochester 30. Webb gained 4 yards on a fourth and 2 to keep the ball moving. Strang completed two short passes around his own 7-yard keeper. Webb scored from 1 yard out to tie the score at 7-7 with 13:21 left in the second.
Soufrant pinned the Yellowjackets deep in their own end with a punt to the Rochester 8. UR went three-and-out and Mike Carson punted to the Rochester 35. On second-and-8, Strang hit Souffrant down the left sideline for the go-ahead TD, 14-7, with 7:24 left.
Late in the quarter, Rochester’s Shola Fakorode intercepted Strang at the Rochester 7. Onyiriuka rushed three times for a net of 35 yards. Braezen Subick completed two passes, and Hobart hurt itself with two penalties that gave Rochester first downs. Alex Antonucci kicked a 37-yard field goal as time expired, leaving Hobart a 14-10 lead at halftime.
The offensive struggles both ways were epitomized by play early in the third quarter. On the third play, Onyiriuka was stripped of the football by Reggie Robinson and Gianni Contro recovered at the UR 44. Six plays later, Strang was intercepted by Jordan Honjiyo at the UR 2. Rochester mishandled the ball in the end zone and Byron Saggese fell on it, giving Hobart a safety and a 16-10 lead with 10:22 left.
Robinson finished the day with a game-high 14 tackles (11 solo) and forced one fumble. Tyree Coleman had six tackles, including three sacks. He has 12.5 sacks this season, third on Hobart’s single season list, 1.5 behind Dave Russell’s season record. Drake Woodward had six tackles, an interception, and a pass breakup.
For Rochester (4-5, 3-3), Zach Cicero had eight tackles (all solo). Kobie Hamm also had eight stops (six solo) and Bill Campi had seven solos.
The NCAA selection show is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 13. The show is only available online at NCAA.com.