CORTLAND, NY – In a game that featured eight lead changes, Hartwick (1-2) would fall just one point shy of Cortland (2-1), 31-30, Saturday at Cortland Stadium Red in the Empire 8 opener for both teams. The result marks the Hawks' third straight loss to the Red Dragons by three points or less.
After scoring 27 points in the opening half of play, the Hawks mustered just three in the second half courtesy of Brian McGovern's (Warwick, NY/Warwick Valley) 36-yard field goal which gave Hartwick a 30-28 lead with 11:20 remaining in the game.
Cortland marched 59 yards on 12 plays over the next five minutes and took the lead for good on a William Holscher 25-yard field goal. 'Wick quarterback Billy Pine (Hoosick Falls, NY/Hoosick Falls) would be intercepted on the sixth play from scrimmage on the Hawks' ensuing possession, but the defense forced a three and out and a Cortland punt to get the ball back with 2:14 left in the contest.
Pine completed three passes to get the Hawks to their own 39 yard-line. They faced a 4th and 6 but couldn't convert and the Red Dragons got the ball back. Cortland faced a 4th and 2 from the Hartwick 31 with 52 seconds left, but quarterback Steven Ferrira rushed for three of his 86 yards to get the first down and seal the win for the hosts.
Pine finished the day for Hartwick completing 17 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns. Koree Reed's (Baldwinsville, NY/Baldwinsville) four catches led to game-highs of 110 yards and two touchdown receptions. Brad Garcia (Warwick, NY/Warwick Valley HS) had a game-high six catches for 80 yards and a score. Chase Weichman (Rochester, NY/Rush Henrietta) added five catches for 62 yards. Running back Tito Pichardo (Washingtonville, NY/Washingtonville) carried the ball 19 times for 143 yards and a touchdown.
Johnnie Akins ran the ball 25 times for Cortland. He accumulated 218 yards on the ground on the day. Ferriera finished 14-for-20 for 138 yards and two touchdowns for the Red Dragons.
Both teams would score on their opening possessions with Cortland scoring first 1:35 into the game, and a Pine-to-Reed 27-yard touchdown pass answering for the Hawks 1:51 later. The PAT was blocked leaving the score 7-6 in Cortland's favor.
A Pichardo 18-yard touchdown run with 5:10 left in the quarter put 'Wick in front for the first time. The teams traded back and forth touchdowns in the second quarter. Reed scored on a 44-yard pass from Pine at the 11:27 mark and Garcia did the same from 20 yards away with just one tick left on the clock before halftime. McGovern's extra point made it a 27-21 game.
To start the second half, Hartwick drove all the way to the Cortland 28 but ended up turning the ball over on downs. The Red Dragons responded with a 9-play, 72-yard drive to go in front 28-27.
Following an interception, Cortland took over again and looked like they would extend their advantage. Akins, on a 4th and 3 from the 50, broke free for a run which would have put the Hawks' deficit at seven. However, defensive back David Van Alstine (Otego, NY/Unatego) made a big play to knock the ball out of Akins' hands and it traveled through the end zone for a touchback to keep it a one-point game entering the final quarter.
McGovern's field goal early in the fourth would mark the Hawks' final lead of the afternoon. Holscher's kick closed out the scoring five minutes later.
Both teams combined for 884 yards of offense. Cortland accumulated 452 yards with the Hawks not far behind with 432.
Linebacker Josh Wilcox (Ithaca, NY/Candor HS) led all tacklers with 10 hits for the Hawks. Lineman Nick Richard (Greenwich, NY/Schuylerville) added eight tackles and he combined on Hartwick's lone sack. Tom Peabody (Hoosick Falls, NY/Hoosick Falls) contributed seven hits, while Dylan Williams-Bachman (Homer, NY/Homer HS), Biagio Bucciferro (Amsterdam, NY/Broadalbin-Perth HS), and Dexter Hamilton (Owego, NY/Newark Valley HS) each had five. Van Alstine added four tackles to his forced fumble. Anthony Rotunno (Hawthorne, NY/Westlake) also had four.
Hartwick is back at home next Saturday, September 23 against St. John Fisher. Kickoff is 4 p.m.