ONEONTA, NY- Hartwick kept pace with Buffalo State in the first half as it answered each scoring drive but the visiting Bengals broke a 21-21 tie in the second quarter with 28 straight points to break open the game as they defeated the Hawks 49-21 on Saturday afternoon at Wright Stadium. The loss drops Hartwick to 4-4 overall and 1-4 in the Empire 8 while Buffalo State improves to 5-4 and 3-3 in the E8.
The Hawks totaled over 400 yards in offense as the Bengals went over the 500 mark. Hartwick had 110 yards on the ground and 377 yards through the air. Buffalo State had 199 yards rushing and 347 yards passing.
Hartwick started the game with the ball and drove down to the Bengal 11 where the drive stalled after quarterback John Garcia (Warwick, NY/Warwick Valley) was brought down for a loss of eight yards to the 19. Kicker Alex Tesoriero (Rensselaer, NY/Columbia) came on to attempt a 36 yard field goal but missed to the right and the Bengals began their first drive at their own 20.
Buffalo State struck quickly as quarterback Casey Kacz completed passes of five yards to Sherman Nelson and then hooked up with Mike Doherty on a 75 yard completion that ended with a touchdown. Alex Debbins' extra point gave Buffalo State a 7-0 lead with 10:12 showing on the clock.
The Hawks had an answer for the Bengals. After Tanner Williams' (Eagle Bridge, NY/Hoosick Falls) 21 yard kickoff return, 'Wick started at their own 27. Aided by a Buffalo State pass interference penalty, Hartwick moved up to the 42. Kurtis Ahart (Spencer, NY/Spencer Van Etten) took off for an eight yard gain and then Garcia connected with Williams on a 27 yard pass to move the chains to the Bengal 23. After a false start penalty on the Hawks, Garcia found Frankie Molina (Middletown, NY/Middletown) for the touchdown and with Tesoriero's extra point, the game was tied up at 7-7. Buffalo State took the lead on its next possession when Kacz again hooked up with Doherty on a 68 yard pass for a touchdown and the Bengals took a 14-7 lead at 8:32.
Hartwick would punt on its next drive which gave the ball to Buffalo State at its 31. The 'Wick defense stiffened and force a four and out when Patrick Steves (Brockport, NY/Brockport) would stop Bengal running back Rick Pete for a two-yard loss as the Hawks took over at their own 42.
The Hawks would take advantage of the opportunity presented to them. With completions of 10 yards to tight end Shaun Eichner (Pine Bush, NY/Pine Bush) and 38 yards to Williams, Garcia moved 'Wick to the Buffalo State 31 yard line. After a Garcia sack to end the first quarter, Ahart ran for nine yards to the Bengal 32. Garcia then connected with Molina on passes of 12 and 20 yards with the latter going for a touchdown as the score would be tied 14-14 at 13:38 of the second quarter.
The Hartwick defense would come up big as Midnet Cantave (Spring Valley, NY/Spring Valley) would pick off Kacz and give the Hawks the ball at their own 22. 'Wick could not take advantage as the drive ended in a punt. The Bengals then drove 77 yards on five plays that ended with Pete's 12 yard touchdown run to move Buffalo State ahead 21-14 at 8:24 of the second quarter.
After the kickoff, Hartwick started possession at its own 29. A Garcia-to-Williams 19 yard pass with a Buffalo State roughing the passer penalty added moved the ball all the way to the Bengal 37. After getting to the Bengal 28, the Hawks were faced with a fourth and one. After a timeout, Garcia would find Molina for a six-yard completion and the first down to keep the drive alive. Two plays later, Garcia threw a 22-yard touchdown to Eichner to even the contest at 21-21 with 6:39 left in the half.
A Kacz to Sherman Nelson 26 yard touchdown with just over four minutes left in the quarter gave the Bengals a 28-21 lead. After a Garcia interception, the Bengals would capitalize on the Hartwick miscue as Pete tacked on a four yard score to give Buffalo State a 35-21 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter, Buffalo State started to pull away. On the opening kickoff, Doherty ran the ball back to the Hartwick 15. Two plays later, Pete scored his third touchdown of the game to give Buffalo State a 42-21 advantage. Just over a minute later, Jeff McDuffie intercepted Garcia and go 70 yards for the score to put the Bengals ahead 49-21 with 13:00 left in the third period.
After a Hartwick punt, Buffalo State had the ball at its own nine after an illegal block brought the ball back. The 'Wick defense came up big as Joe Seney (Gloversville, NY/Broadalbin-Perth) forced the ball out from Pete and Bryan Schweitzer (Babylon, NY/Babylon) was there to bring the ball back for a touchdown to close the gap and make it a 49-28 ballgame.
The Bengals answered back with another Pete touchdown, this one coming inside of five minutes remaining in the frame, to go ahead 56-28. Buffalo State then added a field goal early in the fourth quarter to go up 59-28.
The next 11 minutes of game time would see turnovers from both teams, a turnover on downs by the Hawks, and a punt from the Bengals. Hartwick would get one yard rushing touchdowns from quarterback Keegan Corbett (Bennington, VT/Mt. Anthony Union) and running back Nick Knauer (Wynantskill, NY/Tamarac) to complete the scoring.
For the Hawks, Garcia completed a career-high 24 passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns. Williams caught a season and career-high 12 passes for 146 yards and added seven kickoff returns for 146 to total 300 all-purpose yards on the afternoon. Molina had eight catches for 149 yards and two scores. Nelson caught five balls for 123 yards and a touchdown while Doherty totaled four catches, 158 yards, and two touchdowns for Buffalo State.
Ahart ran 12 times for 71 yards while Knauer added 34 yards on nine carries. Pete finished the game with 133 yards on 16 carries and four scores for the Bengals.
Defensively, Hartwick was paced by Clyde Miller's (Rochester, NY/Glenville State College) seven tackles. Stevens added six stops. John Alessandra had eight tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 2.5 tackles for losses for the Bengals.
The Hawks head on their longest road trip of the season when they face Frostburg State next Saturday. Kickoff will be at 1 p.m.