BUFFALO, NY—Chuck Beckwith (Victor/Victor) broke three long runs for second-half touchdowns covering 31, 52 and 80 yards to lead visiting Alfred University (2-1/1-0) to a 40-17 victory over No. 19 Buffalo State (2-2/0-1) in the Empire 8 season opener today at Coyer Field.
The Saxons kicked the ground game into gear in the second half to erase a 10-7 halftime deficit. Beckwith finished with 177 yards on eight carries to lead an Alfred ground attack that piled up 401 total rushing yards. Austin Dwyer (Arkport/Hornell) added 92 yards on 22 carries. Quarterback Zach Sopak (Falconer/Southwestern) finished 12 of 24 for 117 yards and two touchdowns. Alfred finished with 553 yards of total offense, compared to 364 by the Bengals.
Jon Jackson (E. Amherst/Timon) led the Alfred defense with 11 tackles, including two for loss and also had an interception. D.J. Welch (Avon/Avon) and Reggie Pressley (Rochester/Gates-Chili) added 10 tackles and a fumble recovery each.
Buffalo State's offense was unable to get in sync all afternoon as the Alfred defensive front won the battle at the line of scrimmage resulting in three sacks. Quarterback Casey Kacz (Amherst/Sweet Home) finished just 17 of 34 for 225 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Rich Pete (Utica/TR Proctor) had 15 carries for 71 yards and five catches for 29 yards. Manny Brooks (Auburn/Auburn) added 143 all-purpose yards, including two catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns. Tawone Williams (Cicero/CNS) led the Bengals' defense with a career-high 11 tackles.
Alfred took the early 7-0 lead after a blocked punt by Jonathan Ruffin (Copiague/Copiague) was scooped up by Andy Ruddock (Attica/Attica) and taken in 18 yards for the score.
Buffalo State answered just three offensive plays later, converting a third-and-11 with a 63-yard touchdown on a screen pass by Brooks.
Jackson intercepted a Kacz pass on the Bengals' next possession, and Alfred drove 88 yards to set up a first-and-goal at the Buffalo State 1 yard line. The Saxons attempted to push it in on the ground, but were stopped on four consecutive plays.
Nate Benoit (Grand Island/Grand Island) accounted for the only points of the second quarter, booting a 24-yard field goal just 17 seconds into the second frame. Buffalo State threatened again in the closing minute of the half, but Benoit's 22-yard field goal try sailed wide right, leaving the score 10-7 at the intermission.
Alfred took control after the break, outscoring the Bengals 20-0 in the third quarter. The Saxons drove 60 yards on seven plays capped by a 1-yard pass from Sopak to Adam Schutz (Geneva/Geneva) to take a lead it would not relinquish.
Later in the quarter, the Saxons scored on back-to-back possessions when Beckwith broke free with runs of 31 and 52 yards on what appeared to be identical plays.
Buffalo State cut the deficit to 27-17 early in the fourth quarter on a 2-yard run by Brooks that capped a 70-yard drive, but Alfred countered with Beckwith again, springing for 80 yards on the very next play from scrimmage.
After a sack fumble by Chris Steeves (Rochester/Gates-Chili) in Bengal territory late in the game, Sopak hit Maleke Fuentes (Olean/Olean) for a 10-yard touchdown to complete the scoring.
Buffalo State will host nationally-ranked Salisbury in another Empire 8 game next Saturday at noon.