October 15, 2012
Red Dragons get the last laugh toppling Brockport
After a comedy of football errors over the opening 30 minutes, the last laugh would eventually belong to surging SUNY Cortland.
The Red Dragons captured their fifth consecutive victory by blasting Brockport 45-27 at the Stadium Complex on Saturday afternoon, as senior quarterback Chris Rose threw for two touchdowns and running back Bronson Greene ran for a pair of scores.
Greene’s 58-yard, off-tackle breakaway early in the fourth quarter created a 31-point Cortland cushion that enabled Coach Dan MacNeill’s first place squad to cruise to the finish line in this lengthy New Jersey Athletic Conference encounter. That was part of Greene’s 139-yard performance as starting tailback Dorian Myles’ back-up, earning the sophomore out of Shenendowa the conference’s Offensive Player of the Week honor.
Cortland resides in first place in the NJAC with an unblemished 5-0 mark, stands 5-1 overall and will host contender Rowan (4-0 NJAC, 5-1 overall) in a crucial showdown this coming Saturday at noon.
In turning back Brockport (2-3 NJAC, 4-3 overall), tucking the victory away with a run of 17 unanswered second half points, Cortland also helped erase the memory of some sloppy offensive execution prior to intermission when both sides combined for nine turnovers.
Brockport lost a pair of fumbles and threw four interceptions, the last of those returned by debuting Red Dragons freshman linebacker Mike Ambrose for a 21-yard touchdown that put the Golden Eagles in a 28-7 halftime hole. Rose threw up three interceptions of his own or the Golden Eagles’ deficit could have been even greater.
Cortland also missed three field goal attempts during the contest, too.
“The ‘D’ helped us out a lot with that, that’s for sure,” said Rose when asked about Cortland’s good fortune of leading at halftime despite those three picks. “They kept getting the ball back for us even though we made mistakes to get rid of it. Basically, at halftime, we settled down a little bit. We just made sure we kept the ball in our hands because the way our defense was playing we just needed to control the tempo of the game, and that’s what we did.”
WITH SENIOR QB Joe Scibilia giving his arm a workout throwing the football 64 times, Brockport out-gained Cortland 474-462 and collected 25 first downs. Scibilia threw for three touchdowns and ran for another.
But Brockport’s rash of mistakes — which included punting the ball into a teammate’s helmet that set up a Myles 11-yard third quarter touchdown run and an offensive pass interference call that negated a second half touchdown catch — were too much for the visitors to overcome.
Cortland had lots of concerns on defense due to injuries to three key players including the team’s top two tacklers, safety Andre Green (concussion) and linebacker Jesse Scanna (sprained knee). The Red Dragons overcame that adversity, holding leading Brockport rusher Tyrone Nichols to 58 yards while collecting those half-dozen turnovers.
Cornerback and senior captain Pete Furey picked off two Golden Eagles’ passes and was named the NJAC Defensive Player of the Week, while senior safety Phil Bossman also picked off a pass. Cornerback Andrew Tolosi and linebacker Chris Bright each made 10 tackles for Cortland, with a blitzing Bright picking up a sack and providing the pressure on Scibilia to force the hurried throw that rookie Ambrose grabbed leading to his timely TD.
The Red Dragons devised a plan so when Brockport fullback Nick Cappelletti was in the line-up they used Joe Kirchner as an extra defensive lineman. When the Golden Eagles went to four wide receivers, frosh Ambrose was used at linebacker and Cortland went to just a three-man front.
“It was the biggest stresser through the week. How were we going to move our personnel and how were we going to practice it in time and get the reps we needed?” said head coach Dan MacNeill of making defensive changes for a dangerous Brockport offense.
“It was a well-devised game-plan and certainly you have to give Ola a lot of credit there as a defensive coordinator,” said MacNeill, referring to assistant coach Ola Adams. “He called the game really, really well.”
CORTLAND’S OFFENSE, which came into the game averaging 44 points per game, continues to thrive. A 265-yard ground game featuring Greene and Myles (22 carries-95 yards) certainly helped.
“The good thing is we don’t change what we do a whole lot, which is helpful. We do what we do,” said Rose. “Obviously, we make adjustments to the other team based on what they run, but we don’t have to get comfortable with a whole new set of plays or new schemes every week. It’s what we do, and what we continue to do each week.”
On the game’s opening possession Rose contributed a 28-yard run to a 65-yard touchdown drive, capped by a 9-yard touchdown pass to Mike Humphrey — the senior wideout who left his defender in the dust to get wide open.
After Scibilia tied the game lofting a six-yard touchdown pass to 6-foot-6 Brockport basketball center Kazeem Are, Rose used a 36-yard pass play to Kordel McInnis to set up his own end zone toss to 6-foot-8 tight end Rob Von Bargen.
After an exchange of interceptions, Cortland went up 21-7 on a Greene 1-yard run and picked up the final TD on the first half on frosh Ambrose’s interception return. Brockport pulled to within 28-14 thanks to a 75-yard third quarter drive, Scibilia running untouched up the middle for the final seven yards.
That’s when the Red Dragons pulled away with those 17 consecutive points. Mike DeBole booted a 30-yard field goal at the end of a 65-yard excursion, Myles scored after Brockport’s botched punt and Greene went on his long TD dash to put Cortland in control.
Scibilia came up with a 67-yard TD pass play to Andrew Mrozek and a 10-yard flip to Nichols to give Brockport some fourth quarter hope, but the Golden Eagles did not touch the ball again after that final TD with 2:09 left to play.
“The way Brockport’s offense has put up points all year we knew we had to score a lot, and our defense stepped up huge for us,” said Rose, who finished with 197 yards through the air while completing 18-of-32 throws. “We put up a good amount of points, but obviously the defense even put up points with that pick-six and they set up a couple of scores for us, so they really helped us out.”
To read this article and more, pick up today's Cortland Standard
Click here to subscribe