September 17, 2012
Dragons, Myles run over Colonials
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland quarterback Chris Rose (13) looks for a receiver down the sideline while getting pass protection from Bronson Greene (28) in the third quarter against Western Connecticut State Saturday.
SUNY Cortland running back Dorian Myles has already proven his dependability.
A year ago when starting tailback Justin Autera was lost early in the season to a knee injury that eventually required surgery, Myles took over and rushed for a team-high 792 yards and scored four touchdowns in a successful 9-2 football campaign for the Red Dragons.
So it was no surprise that when Myles was needed on Saturday afternoon in Cortland’s opening New Jersey Athletic Conference contest against Western Connecticut State he delivered before a home crowd of 2,460 folks gathered at the Stadium Complex.
The shifty 5-foot-10, 200-pounder out of Lackawanna ignited what eventually turned into a lopsided 72-14 victory over the Colonials. He turned a screen pass from quarterback Chris Rose into a 66-yard scoring play early in the second quarter and then broke loose for touchdown bursts of 75 and 16 yards en route to being named the NJAC Offensive Player of the Week.
Senior Myles accounted for 255 yards on the day — a hefty chunk of the 595 yards of total offense the Red Dragons compiled while extending a Western Connecticut win-less habit to 23 consecutive games dating back to the fall of 2009.
“It was a great confidence booster,” said Myles of the victory, Cortland (1-1) coming off a season-opening setback at Buffalo State two weekends ago. “Losing stinks, so it feels great to come out here and get a win.”
Western Connecticut (0-2) was still within 34-14 midway through the third quarter when Cortland closed the game scoring six unanswered touchdowns, posting 35 points in the final stanza alone to leave new Western Connecticut head coach Joe Loth a bit peeved.
“Hey, you never want to post 72 points against them,” said Cortland head coach Dan MacNeill, who had reserves on the field for most of that final quarter and did not throw a pass after second-string quarterback Tyler Augliano connected with tight end Rob Von Bargen for a 23-yard TD with 12:13 left to play that put Cortland head 51-14.
Cortland ended up a missed extra-point away from tying the school record for points in a game, having scored 73 against both Brockport in 1969 and New Jersey City in 1999. It was the fourth time in school history the Red Dragons have surpassed 70 points.
QB Rose passed for 233 yards and ran for a score in his second career start, third-string tailback Bronson Greene scored three touchdowns and a defense that had been torched for 49 points at Buffalo State showed some improvement.
CORTLAND’S BEVY OF running backs were all impressive, including starter Autera who had early touchdown run before getting his bell rung and forced to be a spectator the rest of the way.
Autera and standout senior offensive guard Randy Bloom were both injured during Cortland’s third possession of the game, though Bloom hobbled back to play on an injured ankle before Cortland pulled away.
Those injuries could have spelled trouble, even though Cortland was already up 14-0. Greene had finished off Cortland’s opening 65-yard drive, that featured a 30-yard Autera sweep, from two yards out for the first score. And when the Western Connecticut punter dropped a snap and set the Red Dragons up on the visitor’s 3-yard line, Autera scored from a yard out.
But when Myles stepped in for Autera moments later, things continued to roll along.
“We have a lot of running backs that can come in and do whatever is needed, a stable if you want to call it that,” said Myles. “Anyone can step in and do it. We have a lot of good running backs, so no one’s a back-up and no one’s a starter.”
The four running backs used Saturday found the end zone eight times, capped by sophomore Matt Deiana’s 7-yard run a mere 1:50 from the finish. Cortland ball carriers covered 339 yards on the day.
“We’ve got no complaints with our running backs. We’ve got Bronson Greene there, and even little old mighty-mite,” said Coach MacNeill, referring to the 5-foot-7 Deiana who was named the NJAC Special Teams Player of the Week after coming up with 47-yard and 42-yard kickoff returns to go along with his late TD.
“And I tell you what, wait until you see (Ke’shaun) Stallworth and (Jonathan) Prior,” added MacNeill of two freshman backs on the Red Dragons roster, Stallworth out of Pelham Memorial High School while Prior is a homegrown former Cortland High ball-carrier. “We’re doing tackling drills against those kids in practice and we can’t even tackle them. I mean, we watch five minutes of watching us not tackling those two guys because they’re good athletes. So I like our tailback talent.”
TACKLING IS STILL a concern for the Red Dragons.
Western Connecticut made this a 21-7 game early in the second quarter when sophomore Marquies Highsmith caught a short pass, broke a couple of tackles and sprinted 59 yards down the sideline for a score. Behind the work of junior running back Octavious McKoy — who was the best Colonials weapon with 124 rushing yards on 26 gritty carries — the visitors had an impressive 85-yard scoring drive in the third quarter, too. McKoy scored from a yard out.
“We’re going through some growing pains. We’re not where we want to be from a defensive perspective yet,” said MacNeill, though Cortland did recover two fumbles and got an interception from sophomore linebacker Michael McCarthy. Freshman safety Andre Green was the leading tackler for the second straight game with nine stops, while McCarthy had a quaterback sack to go along with his pick.
“Oh yeah, definitely, we improved a lot,” said senior safety Will Bossman, who was ruled to have stepped out of bounds negating what would have been a first quarter interception of a sideline pass. “We got a lot of stuff done the past couple of weeks to help us.
“We just needed to get better as a defense as a whole, so I think we did that,” added veteran Bossman, fully expecting his younger defensive teammates to come around. “They’re all players and they’re all good athletes, and we’re coming along together, too, and it’s great. The last couple of weeks was big as far as coming together as a team, which is good.”
Cortland will get a chance to continue that improvement this coming Saturday night, playing a 7 p.m. conference game at Morrisville State.
DRAGON TALES: Cortland has to feel better about an opening day loss at Buffalo State, considering the Bengals knocked off defending NCAA Division III champion Wisconsin-Whitewater 7-6 — in Wisconsin — on Saturday. QB Casey Kacz threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Carney with three seconds left for the upset.... Cortland’s Nick Daley boomed his first three wind-aided kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks, and when Western Connecticut finally got to return one in the second quarter Daley was there to make a crunching tackle.... The hit of the game was delivered by Cortland soph cornerback Andrew Tolosi, who read a quick flanker screen to Highsmith and drilled the receiver for a five-yard loss..... Though upcoming opponent Morrisville is off to an 0-3 start, the Mustangs gave Montclair State a battle before losing 7-0 in New Jersey this weekend.... Western Connecticut State is now 0-12 all-time against Cortland, and the Danbury school is leaving the NJAC after this season to join the Massachusetts State Collgiate Athletic Association for football in 2013.... Cortland missed out on scoring another TD just before half, a drive to the 8-yard-line halted when a deflected Rose pass was picked off by Colonials linebacker Corey Lawlor with 16.2 seconds on the clock.
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