Cortland drops 39-21 Empire 8 decision to visiting Buffalo State

Jon Mannix caught a 20-yard TD pass in the first quarter to become only the fifth player in school history to reach 2,000 career receiving yards (Darl Zehr Photography)

Jon Mannix caught a 20-yard TD pass in the first quarter to become only the fifth player in school history to reach 2,000 career receiving yards (Darl Zehr Photography)

CORTLAND, N.Y. – Buffalo State quarterback Kyle Hoppy completed 29-of-47 passes for 434 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for two scores as the Bengals defeated host Cortland, 39-21, in an Empire 8 contest.

Buffalo State improves to 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the league, while Cortland drops to 3-3 overall and 1-3 in conference play.

Bengals’ wide receiver Madison Wesolowski caught 11 passes for 175 yards and Stephen Johnson made six catches for 114 yards and a score. Tre Jones, who stepped in after Dale Stewart suffered an injury, rushed 25 times for 87 yards. Sekret Kukaj and Cliff Brown led Buffalo State with eight tackles each and Billy Carroll had an interception and two sacks. Tiquan Simpkins also picked off a pass and broke up three others.

Cortland starting quarterback DeAngelo Walker (Buffalo/Kenmore West) completed 7-of-18 passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan VanGalen (Clifton Park/Shenendehowa) was 4-of-8 through the air for 51 yards. Johnnie Akins (Roosevelt) ran nine times for 63 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown, while Jake Smith (Albany/Guilderland) and Jon Mannix (East Northport/John H. Glenn) each caught a TD pass. Carson Lassiter (Madison, NJ) led the Cortland defense with 13 tackles, nine solo, while Mark DelPrete (Staten Island/Monsignor Farrell) finished with nine tackles and a forced fumble.

Buffalo State finished the game with 575 yards of total offense to Cortland’s 263. The Bengals possessed the ball for more than 38 minutes.

The guests drove 78 yards on the game’s opening drive, capped by Hoppy’s 1-yard TD run, to take a 7-0 lead, but Cortland answered later in the quarter on a 24-yard TD drive set up by DelPrete’s forced fumble that was recovered by Marquise Marshall (Middle Island/Longwood). Walker found Mannix on a 20-yard TD strike on 3rd-and-6 to tie the game at 7-7. The catch made Mannix just the fifth player in school history to reach 2,000 career receiving yards (currently at 2,008).

The Bengals went up 17-7 in the second on another Hoppy 1-yard run and a Marc Montana 19-yard field goal. Cortland drew within 17-14 just 1:22 prior to halftime on a 43-yard TD pass from Walker to Smith, but Buffalo State extended its lead to 29-14 in the third quarter on TD catches by Jordan Evert from six yards out and by Stephen Johnson from 17 yards away. The Bengals had the extra point blocked after Evert’s score and failed on a two-point try after Johnson’s TD.

Cortland made it a one-possession game with 4:19 left in the third. The Red Dragons’ drive appeared to stall, but a Buffalo State fumble on a punt gave Cortland the ball at the Bengals’ 41-yard line. Three plays later, Akins broke free up the middle for a 35-yard TD run and Cortland was within eight at 29-21.

Buffalo State put up key insurance points after driving 82 yards on 14 plays early in the fourth quarter. The drive started on the Bengals’ 6-yard line, and featured a key 35-yard pass from Hoppy to Johnson on 3rd-and-17 at the Buffalo State 30. Cortland eventually held defensively at its own 12-yard line before Montana made a 29-yard field goal with 6:17 left to extend the lead to 32-21.

Cortland turned the ball over on downs with 4:38 left after a 4th-and-2 pass from its own 33-yard line missed the mark. Buffalo State ran down most of the remaining time before cashing in on a Hoppy 5-yard TD pass to Nick Jones on 4th-and-goal with 39 seconds left to create the final margin.

Cortland will travel to Alfred University next Saturday for a 1 p.m. league matchup.

Bill Shear '67 (third from right) joins head coach Dan MacNeill and Cortland kickers William Holscher (87), Paul Aponza (37), Shane Cronin (18) and Nick Mongelli (91) prior to the game. Shear was an honorary team captain and was recognized at halftime for the 50th anniversary of his 61-yard field goal vs. Hobart on October 15, 1966. The kick was the first 60-yard field goal ever in either an NCAA or NFL game.

Bill Shear ’67 (third from right) joins head coach Dan MacNeill and Cortland kickers William Holscher (87), Paul Aponza (37), Shane Cronin (18) and Nick Mongelli (91) prior to the game. Shear was an honorary team captain and was recognized at halftime for the 50th anniversary of his 61-yard field goal vs. Hobart on October 15, 1966. The kick was the first 60-yard field goal ever in either an NCAA or NFL game.