CORTLAND, N.Y. – Senior Anthony Giuliano (Thornwood/Westlake) caught a touchdown pass, threw for a score and returned a blocked field goal for an 82-yard touchdown as Cortland wrapped up its New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) schedule with a 38-7 victory over William Paterson University.
The Red Dragons (8-1, 8-1 NJAC) clinched at least a share of the league title with the victory. Montclair State and Rowan are each 7-1 in the conference with one game left, so the league's NCAA automatic berth will not be determined until next week's games are complete.
Cortland has finished at least tied for first in the NJAC five of the last six seasons. The Red Dragons won the league title outright in 2008. For three straight years from 2005-07, Cortland tied for first in the standings but lost the league tiebreaker to determine the NCAA automatic bid.
Sophomore Justin Autera (Mahopac) rushed for 122 yards and a touchdown for the Red Dragons. He has rushed for exactly 1,000 net yards this fall, making him the eighth Cortland player in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Junior Jake Burgess (Syracuse/Westhill) caught a 72-yard TD pass from Giuliano and junior Marc Corrado (Newburgh/Newburgh Free Academy) made a 29-yard field goal.
Cortland opened the scoring when senior cornerback Joe Lopez (Port Jefferson Station/Comsewogue) intercepted a pass in the right flat and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown. Lopez has now intercepted a pass in five consecutive games, breaking the school record of four games that was originally set by Steve Daly in 1975. Lopez leads Cortland with seven interceptions this fall.
William Paterson (4-5, 3-5 NJAC) tied the game at 7-7 on a 4-yard TD run by Dawys German (North Arlington, NJ) with 3:32 left in the first quarter. German finished the game with 89 yards on 20 rushes, while quarterback Ryan Gresik (Newton, NJ) completed 16-of-28 passes for 116 yards.
Cortland took a 10-7 lead on Corrado's field goal with 32 seconds left in the first quarter. William Paterson mounted an impressive drive midway through the second quarter after recovering a fumble on its own 3-yard line. The Pioneers drove 92 yards to the Cortland 5-yard line over 15 plays before settling for a field goal attempt. Cortland's Lou Crispo (Eastchester), however, blocked the 22-yard kick. Giuliano grabbed the ball at the Cortland 18-yard line and raced 82 yards for a touchdown and a 17-7 Cortland lead with 39 seconds left in the half.
Autera's 4-yard TD run – his 18th touchdown of the season – extended the lead to 24-7 with 4:51 left in the third quarter. Giuliano's TD pass to Burgess, out of a "wildcat" formation, made the score 31-7 with 12:27 remaining. Cortland completed the scoring on a 15-yard pass from Dan Pitcher (Cortland) to Giuliano with 9:41 remaining. Pitcher has now thrown a TD pass in 11 straight games, extending his own school record.
Junior linebacker Cody Allen (Medina) led Cortland with 14 tackles and senior defensive lineman Evan Wyler (Warwick/Warwick Valley) made 11 stops. Lopez, sophomore safety Phil Bossman (East Aurora) and senior cornerback Mason Ellis (Pasadena, MD/Northeast) each intercepted passes.
Defensive lineman Dyon Moore (Brooklyn/Hudson Catholic) led William Paterson with eight tackles and a pass breakup. Sophomore lnebacker Steven Shawger (Newton, NJ) and sophomore safety Clifton Glaze (Palmyra, NJ) made six tackles each.
Cortland hosts Ithaca College in the annual "Cortaca Jug" rivalry game next Saturday at noon. William Paterson hosts nearby rival Montclair State on Saturday at 1 p.m.