September 4, 2012
Bengals pick apart Dragons defense
BUFFALO — Having a bye on its football schedule so early in the season might be a good thing for SUNY Cortland.
Now the Red Dragons will have an extra week to figure out just what went wrong defensively in last Saturday’s 49-31 loss at Buffalo State prior to getting their New Jersey Athletic Conference campaign underway.
Coach Dan MacNeill’s defense simply could not slow down the Bengals in this season-opening setback witnessed by 1,750 fans at Coyer Field, as Buffalo State came up with a school record 706 yards of offense and cranked out 30 first downs.
Bengals quarterback Casey Kacz completed 30-of-42 passes for a school-record 579 yards and a school record-tying five touchdowns in this non-league match-up — Buffalo State having exited the NJAC for the Empire 8 this season.
It was Cortland’s first loss of a season-opener since 2004.
Cortland has this coming weekend off before Western Connecticut State pays a visit on Sept. 15, the first conference test for a Red Dragon team that was the preseason choice to win the league title in 2012.
The same Cortland defense that did not allow any points in a scrimmage the previous weekend against the University of Rochester had no answers for Buffalo State. So this game became a shoot-out between Kacz and Cortland senior quarterback Chris Rose.
Making his first collegiate start, Rose completed 23-of-37 passes for 296 yards and four touchdowns. He was also intercepted five times, three of those picks by Buffalo State’s Chris Hall — which tied a school record.
Senior receiver Mike Humphrey set career single-game highs with eight catches for 168 yards and three touchdowns for Cortland. His three scoring receptions ties a school single-game record.
Cortland was tied 21-21 in the second quarter, and was within 35-31 heading into the final stanza, only to see the Bengals pull away.
It was a big day for Buffalo State receivers, too, as Ryan Carney caught 12 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns and Caesarae Lewis made seven grabs for 156 yards and three scores. Running back Rich Pete rushed 12 times for 103 yards and two touchdowns for the victors.
Cortland’s air success to go along with Humphrey’s big day had sophomore receiver Kordel McInnis finish with six catches for 40 yards and sophomore Jack Delahunty make five catches for 53 yards. Senior tailback Dorian Myles ran for 74 yards on nine carries for the Red Dragons.
Cortland freshman safety Andre Green posted a game-high 10 tackles — all solo — and forced a fumble. Sophomore linebacker Michael McCarthy was in on nine tackles.
The Bengals never trailed in a game where touchdowns were traded early, starting with a 68-yard scoring pass from Kacz to Lewis on the game’s fourth play from scrimmage. Cortland answered with a seven-play scoring drive, capped by a 23-yard TD catch by Humphrey on Rose’s first collegiate scoring pass.
Pete’s 32-yard scoring run later in the first quarter put Buffalo State up 14-7. Cortland responded with a 71-yard scoring drive that resulted in a Humphrey 3-yard TD catch with 15 seconds left in the period.
In the second quarter, a Hall interception set up the Bengals on the Cortland 23-yard line. Four plays later, Kacz found Carney for a 4-yard TD pass. Junior Justin Autera returned the ensuing kickoff 43 yards to the Buffalo State 43-yard line. Myles then ran for 29 yards and Rose hit McInnis for a 23-yard touchdown to knot the game at 21-21.
Buffalo State took the lead for good on its next possession on a Lewis 20-yard TD catch. The Bengals had a chance for more in the final seconds of the half, but sophomore linebacker Anthony Bayer intercepted a pass at the goal line and Cortland trailed 28-21 at halftime.
The Red Dragons marched 59 yards on the opening drive of the third quarter before settling for a Mike DeBole 32-yard field goal. A pass interference call on 3rd-and-11 from the Bengals’ 17-yard line during Buffalo State’s ensuing drive negated an incomplete pass. Six plays later, Kacz threw a 25-yard TD pass to Lewis and the hosts led 35-24.
Late in the third quarter, Cortland started a drive on its own 20-yard line. Following a 1-yard run, Humphrey caught a pass and appeared to be tackled near midfield. However, Humphrey rolled over a defender, his knee never touched the ground, and he raced untouched from that point for a 79-yard touchdown to pull the Red Dragons within four at 35-31 as the third quarter clock expired.
The Bengals marched 71 yards on their first drive of the fourth quarter. The converted a 4th-and-8 at the Cortland 25-yard line with a 25-yard pass from Kacz to Carney, and punched the ball in two plays later on a Pete 1-yard run to go up 42-31.
The hosts added an insurance score when Carney caught a 49-yard TD pass with 8:04 remaining. Cortland did drive to the Buffalo State 1-yard line on its final drive of the game later in the period, but an Eddie Weiser interception on 4th-and-goal at the 4-yard line ended that threat.
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