CORTLAND, NY—Senior quarterback Casey Kacz (Amherst/Sweet Home) threw for a pair of touchdowns and rushed for three more as visiting Buffalo State (1-0) defeated Cortland (0-1), 41-28, in a non-conference season opener today at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex.
Kacz finished 19 of 29 for 226 yards and two scores with an interception, and added 118 rushing yards on 17 attempts. Mike Doherty (Tonawanda/Kenmore East) was the leading receiver for the Bengals with five catches for 104 yards and a touchdown. Mitchell Thomas (Buffalo/Sweet Home) led Buffalo State with nine tackles, and Scott Koen (Oxnard, CA/Santa Clara) had eight stops, including 2.5 for loss and a sack and a fumble recovery.
Cortland quarterback Tyler Augliano was 23 of 47 for 400 yards and three touchdowns and an interception. Freshman Dylan Peebles had 14 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown, and had three catches for 105 yards and another score. John Babin caught six passes for 193 yards and a touchdown.
Cortland had a total of 475 yards, compared to 399 by Buffalo State, but the Bengals dominated time of possession, holding the ball for 37:54.
Cortland needed just 20 seconds to jump in front 7-0 after a 67-yard run by Peebles on the first play from scrimmage.
The teams then traded a pair of three-and-outs each, but Buffalo State was able to flip the field when Joe Going (Kings Park/Kings Park) matched a school record with a punt that bounced and rolled 75 yards. On the Bengals' next possession, Buffalo State kept the drive alive with a conversation on fourth-and-8. Then a defensive pass interference penalty on a third down set up a three-yard touchdown catch on a deflected ball by Caesarae Lewis (Newbern, AL/Sunshine) to even the score at 7-7.
After Koen recovered a Cortland fumble near midfield, Buffalo State rumbled 56 yards in eight plays and took a 14-7 lead after a 1-yard touchdown run by Kacz early in the second quarter.
The Bengals's next possession ended the same way, this time with Kacz scoring on a 5-yard keeper to cap a six-play, 70-yard drive and push the advantage to 21-7. Cortland cut the deficit to 21-14 just 15 seconds before the half, however, when John Babin caught a pass between two defenders and ran 58 yards for the score.
The Bengals padded their lead early second half, scoring on each of their first two possessions. Kacz completed the "hat trick" with his third rushing touchdown, this time covering 13 yards, to end a 13-play, 69-yard drive. Later in the third quarter, Kacz hit Doherty with a 37-yard touchdown strike to push the advantage to 35-14.
Cortland cut into the deficit to 35-21 late in the third quarter with a 74-yard touchdown reception by Peebles. The Red Dragons then dodged another Bengal opportunity with a Carson Lassiter interception in the end zone. Cortland later cut the deficit to one score with a 14-yard touchdown reception by DJ Spencer with 6:49 remaining.
After Buffalo State was held to a 3-and-out, Cortland converted a third-and-20 and a third-and-12 on a potential game-tying drive, but Chris Hall (Pasadena, CA/St. Francis) came up with a critical interception in the end zone with just 2:29 remaining to thwart the Cortland scoring threat.
Buffalo State ran the clock down and punted to Cortland with just five seconds remaining. On the final play of the game, Cortland attempted to lateral the ball to keep the play alive, but Shaq Frederick (Brooklyn/Holy Cross) recovered an errant pitch for Buffalo State and returned it 25 yards to complete the scoring as time expired.
"Sometimes you need to be good and lucky," said Buffalo State coach Jerry Boyes. "Today we had some of both. We had a chance to put the game away and missed an opportunity, but I think it was a real good sign to pull out a character win to start the season."
Buffalo State will open its home schedule next Saturday with the annual I-90 Bowl against rival Brockport at 2 p.m.