MORRISVILLE, NY—Buffalo State (5-5/5-4) and Morrisville State (1-8/1-7) provided early fireworks and the Bengals forced on five second-half turnovers to run away with a 58-31 victory in the season finale at Drake Stadium today, giving head coach Jerry Boyes his 100th career victory.
The win improved Buffalo State's record to .500, it best season since 2000. The Bengals piled up 485 total yards, including 241 rushing yards. Morrisville finished with 366 total yards, and committed seven turnovers.
"This was a great win and a great way to close out the season," said Boyes. "We issued a challenge to ourselves a few weeks ago to close the season strong, and winning three of our last four proved that we are a program that has turned the corner. As for the 100th career victory, it is simply a testament to the great players and great kids that have come through the Buffalo State football program during my time here."
Sophomore quarterback Casey Kacz paced the Bengals' offense, completing 20 of 35 attempts for 218 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Freshman Rich Pete led the ground attack with 12 carries for 115 yards and three scores. Brooks Estarfaa added 10 carries for 94 yards and a touchdown, and also had two catches for 21 yards and a score. Mike Doherty added five receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown, and John Beers had six grabs for 66 yards and a score.
Pasquale Vacchio led the Bengals' defense with 10 tackles and added an interception. Senior Kevin Healy added eight stops and a pair of second-half interceptions. Jordan Boser chipped in four stops, including two sacks and also had an interception.
Lemar Johnson shared quarterbacking duty for Morrisville, finishing 7 of 15 for 102 yards with two touchdowns and two picks. Mychael Hardamo was 3 of 8 for 40 yards with a TD and two more interceptions. Ricky Demers had three catches for 49 yards and two scores.
The two teams exchanged their first two touchdowns before fans even had a chance to settle into their seats, allowing just 31 seconds off the clock. After Pete broke a 50-yard run for a score for Buffalo State on the game's first play from scrimmage, the Mustangs answered immediately with an 84-yard kick return for another score.
Both teams scored on each of their next two possessions as well, with Buffalo State finding the end zone on a 29-yard run by Pete and a 23-yard sprint by Estarfaa. Morrisville scored on a pair of 22-yard passes with the first going to Nate McConnell, and the latter to Ricky Demers, tying the game at 21-21 less than 11 minutes into the game.
Morrisville's defense was the first come up with a stop, but the Bengals answered with a Boser interception on the ensuing Mustangs' possession. After another defensive stand for each team, the Bengals reclaimed the lead with a 7-yard touchdown pass from Kacz to Estarfaa.
The Mustangs threatened to tied the score late in the first half, but after a Boser sack on third down, Juan Rios missed a 31-yard field goal try, leaving the score 28-21 in the Bengals favor heading into halftime.
Buffalo State opened the second half scoring, despite fumbling on a third and goal play deep in Morrisville territory, when Kam Johnson broke through and pulled down Johnson in the end zone for a safety on the very next play.
After a Demers' fumble on a punt return, Buffalo State was back in business and pushed the lead to 37-21 on a 15-yard touchdown from Kacz to Doherty. Morrisville jumped back in the game, however, scoring on a 9-yard pass from Hardamo to Demers, and then after forcing a punt cashed in on a 35-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 37-31 to close out the third quarter.
The fourth quarter belonged to the Bengals, however, as Buffalo State outscored the Mustangs 21-0 in the final frame. After a 15-yard scoring pass from Kacz to Beers, Buffalo State added touchdowns on a 1-yard rush by Pete and then on a 13-yard run by senior fullback Ben Mauer. Morrisville had five possessions in the fourth quarter that ended with two interceptions, two lost fumbles and a turnover on downs.