With win over Alfred, SUNY Cortland leads Empire 8

The following is a republished press release…to submit a community announcement, email Peter Blanchard at [email protected].

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CORTLAND, N.Y. - Cortland's defense forced six turnovers and held Alfred off the board twice in the final five minutes, including a goal-line stand, and the Red Dragons took over sole possession of first place in the Empire 8 with a 20-14 home victory over the Saxons.

Cortland improved to 6-1 overall and 4-1 in Empire 8 play. The Red Dragons sit atop the league standings, a game ahead of both Utica and St. John Fisher (each 3-2 in the league) and a game and a half better than Alfred (4-2 overall), Ithaca, Buffalo State and Brockport (each 2-2 in the league). Cortland will host Brockport next Saturday at 1 p.m.

Cortland broke a 14-14 tie with 1:44 left in the third quarter when Steven Ferreira (West Sayville/Sayville) threw a 12-yard TD pass to tight end Josh Riley(Poughkeepsie/Spackenkill). The ensuing extra point was blocked, however, to keep Alfred within six. The scoring drive covered 84 yards on 14 plays.

Matt Ambrose

Matt Ambrose led Cortland with 10 tackles, including a key sack during Alfred's final possession (Darl Zehr Photography)

Alfred's next drive was halted by a Matt Caputo (Stony Point/North Rockland) interception at the Cortland 15-yard line with 12:57 remaining. The Saxons started their next drive on their own 46-yard line and eventually had 1st-and-goal at the Cortland 2-yard line. A first-down rush resulted in a 4-yard loss after a slip by the running back, and Jake Ceresna (New Fairfield, CT) broke up a pass on second down. Tyler Johnson threw a pass to Maleke Fuentes on third down, but he was tackled by Isaac Hicks (Staten Island/Curtis) at the 1-yard line, and on fourth down Joe Loyacono (Sparrow Bush/Monroe-Woodbury) forced a fumble that Troy Beddoe (Endicott/Union-Endicott) recovered at the Cortland 5-yard line.

Cortland was able to gain one first down before eventually punting the ball back to Alfred with 2:09 left. The Saxons moved from their own 48-yard line to the Red Dragon 20 with less than a minute left. Matt Ambrose (Wyckoff, NJ/Ramapo) sacked Johnson on first down, and three straight incomplete passes, two to the end zone, turned the ball back over to Cortland with 18 seconds left.

Four of Alfred's first five possessions resulted in turnovers - three on fumbles and one on a Mark DelPrete (Staten Island/Monsignor Farrell) interception. Cortland turned the first turnover into a 5-play, 50-yard touchdown drive, the last 34 yards the result of a Ferreira TD pass to Jake Smith (Albany/Guilderland). The Red Dragons were unable to capitalize further, however, and Alfred eventually tied the game at 7-7 on a Johnson 4-yard TD pass to Brendan Buisch with 25 seconds left in the first half.

Cortland marched 69 yards on the opening series of the third quarter for the go-ahead TD. Jon Mannix (East Northport/John H. Glenn) caught a 35-yard pass to the Alfred 35-yard line on 3rd-and-21, and Dylan Peebles (Port Leyden/South Lewis) followed with an 11-yard run and a 24-yard scoring run to give the Red Dragons a 14-7 lead. Peebles finished with 13 carries for 105 yards.

Alfred responded quickly with a 65-yard scoring drive to tie the game at 14-14. The Saxons converted on two third downs, and eventually found the end zone when Johnson hit Ralph Pagliei on a 19-yard touchdown pass with 7:12 left in the third.

Ferreira completed 13-of-20 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Johnson was 23-of-36 passing for 218 yards and two touchdowns and ran 20 times for 77 yards. Buisch caught seven passes for 56 yards and Pagliei made six catches for 61 yards.

Ambrose led Cortland's defense with 10 tackles, nine solo, a sack and a forced fumble. Beddoe recorded seven tackles, with one sack, and a forced fumble and fumble recovery. A.J. Licata paced Alfred with 12 tackles with 3.5 for lost yardage, including 1.5 sacks. Corry Wallace added 10 tackles, two for losses, and Holden Whitehead made nine tackles. Alfred finished with six sacks, and the Saxons had a 349-310 advantage in total offensive yards.

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