CORTLAND, N.Y. – Buffalo State senior quarterback Casey Kacz (Amherst/Sweet Home) rushed for 118 yards and three scores and completed 19-of-29 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns as Buffalo State held off a late Cortland rally to defeat the host Red Dragons, 41-28, in the season opener for both teams.
Cortland junior quarterback Tyler Augliano (Watertown), making his first collegiate start, connected on 23-of-47 passes for 400 yards and three touchdowns. He's only the third player in school history to pass for 400 or more yards in a game. The other two were John Simek (436 yards vs. Albany) in 1978 and J.J. Tutwiler (431 yards vs. Rowan) in 2001.
Kacz gained his 118 rushing yards on 17 carries. Junior Mike Doherty (Tonawanda/Kenmore East) caught five passes for 104 yards and a score.
Cortland junior tailback Dylan Peebles (Port Leyden/South Lewis), a transfer from Div. I Campbell University, rushed 14 times for 95 yards and a touchdown and caught three passes for 105 yards and a score. He ran 67 yards for a TD on the game's first play from scrimmage and caught a 74-yard TD pass from Augliano late in the third quarter.
Junior wide receiver John Babin (Warwick/Warwick Valley) finished with six catches for 193 yards – the fifth-highest single-game receiving total in Cortland history. He caught a 58-yard TD pass from Augliano with 15 seconds left in the first half. Sophomore Jon Mannix (East Northport/John H. Glenn) made a team-high 10 catches for 51 yards and sophomore DJ Spencer (Buffalo/Cleveland Hill) caught a TD pass for his lone reception of the contest.
Cortland took a 7-0 lead 20 seconds into the game when Peebles broke free around the left end and raced down the sideline for his 67-yard touchdown. Buffalo State, however, scored the next three touchdowns and led 21-7. Kacz threw a 3-yard TD pass to senior Caesarae Lewis (Newbern, AL/Sunshine) with 4:10 left in the first quarter, then scored on a 1-yard run early in the second quarter and on a 5-yard run with 6:25 left in the half.
Babin's 58-yard TD catch in the closing seconds of the half drew Cortland within 21-14, but the Bengals drove 69 yards for a TD on the opening possession of the third quarter. Kacz capped the drive with a 13-yard scoring run. Just over three minutes later, Kacz found Doherty open behind the secondary for a 37-yard TD pass and the Bengals led 35-14.
Late in the third quarter, Cortland faced a 3rd-and-18 from its own 26-yard line when Augliano pump-faked before throwing to a wide open Peebles for a 74-yard TD down the left sideline. Buffalo State drove to Cortland's 14-yard line on its next possession, mainly behind a Kacz 60-yard run, but a delay of game penalty followed, and Kacz was then intercepted by Red Dragon freshman cornerback Carson Lassiter (Madison, NJ) in the end zone to end the threat.
Cortland's ensuing drive stalled at the Buffalo State 40-yard line. The Red Dragons forced a three-and-out, but Kacz's quick-kick punt on 4th-and-2 from near midfield pinned Cortland at its own 3-yard line.
The Red Dragons, however, drove 97 yards on 14 plays to pull within seven with 6:49 left. The drive opened with a 41-yard pass from Augliano to Babin and finished with Spencer's 14-yard TD catch.
Cortland's defense held again on three plays, and the Red Dragons started their next drive at their own 31-yard line with 5:06 left. On 3rd-and-20 from the 21-yard line, Babin turned a crossing pattern into a 56-yard reception to the Bengals' 23-yard line. Three plays later, junior Jack Delahunty (East Northport/Northport) caught an 18-yard pass to the 7-yard line.
However, two incomplete passes followed, and on third down Buffalo State defensive back Chris Hall (Pasadena, CA/St. Francis) intercepted a pass in the end zone with 2:29 left to deny Cortland a potential tying TD pass.
Buffalo State later faced 3rd-and-1 from its own 29-yard line with 2:13 left and Kacz was stopped for a loss, but a personal foul face mask penalty gave the Bengals a first down. Buffalo State eventually punted with 15 seconds left. Cortland tried a lateral play after a completion to Babin, but the play eventually resulted in a fumble that Shaq Frederick (Brooklyn/Holy Cross) returned 25 yards for a score with no time left on the clock.
Mitchell Thomas (Buffalo/Sweet Home) led Buffalo State with nine tackles and Scott Koen (Oxnard, CA/Santa Clara) made 2.5 tackles for losses among his eight stops. Hall finished with seven tackles, an interception and two pass breakups.
For Cortland, sophomore safety Andre Green (Watertown/Indian River) made nine tackles, all solo. Junior Andrew Tolosi (Monroe/Monroe-Woodbury), who saw time at both safety and cornerback, added nine tackles, eight solo, and freshman linebacker Tristan Laurore (Jamaica/Boys & Girls) finished with nine tackles, two for losses. Sophomore linebacker Troy Beddoe (Endicott/Union-Endicott) recorded two of Cortland's three sacks.
Cortland is idle next week and will host William Paterson on Saturday, Sept. 21, at noon on C-Club Hall of Fame Weekend. Buffalo State hosts Brockport next Saturday at 2 p.m.