Cortland capitalizes on turnovers in 38-12 win at Buffalo State

Brandon Lewis made eight tackles, and he returned an interception 42 yards to set up Cortland’s final touchdown (Darl Zehr Photography)

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Cortland converted three of Buffalo State’s four turnovers into short touchdown drives and the Red Dragons defeated the host Bengals, 38-12, in an Empire 8 contest. Cortland improved to 3-2 overall and 2-1 in conference play. Buffalo State is now 3-2 and 1-2.

Johnnie Akins (Roosevelt) rushed 22 times for 87 yards and three touchdowns and Steven Ferreira (West Sayville/Sayville) completed 10-of-23 passes for 222 yards and two scores. Ferreira became the sixth player in school history to reach 5,000 career passing yards (5,064), and he has thrown two or more TD passes in all five games this season and 17 times in his 19 career appearances.

Kevin Torrillo, starting in place of the injured Kyle Hoppy, completed 21-of-44 passes for 304 yards and two scores for the Bengals, but was intercepted three times. Dale Stewart ran 18 times for 60 yards and Stephen Johnson caught five passes for 138 yards and a TD.

Max Jean (Lakeview/Malverne) recorded 13 tackles, 11 solo, and a pass breakup to lead the Cortland defense. Brandon Lewis (Monroe/Monroe-Woodbury), Isaac Hicks (Staten Island/Curtis) and Mark DeLuise (Wayne, NJ/Wayne Valley) each intercepted a pass, with Lewis, Hicks and Darrius Bryant (Fort Drum/Indian River) each finishing with eight tackles.

Dametrius Brown and Bart Mazzara paced the Bengals with 10 tackles each. Khalil Sommerville added eight tackles, including 1.5 sacks.

Cortland won despite being outgained in total offense, 400-323. The Red Dragons, however, did not commit any turnovers, and they scored on all five trips into the Buffalo State “red zone” (four touchdowns, one field goal).

Cortland took a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter after its longest scoring drive of the day – a 12-play, 77-yard march that included a Nick Anderson (Jacksonville, FL/Saratoga Springs (NY)) 19-yard catch at the Buffalo State 21-yard line on 3rd-and-11. Akins covered the final 21 yards on four rushes, the last from one yard out. The lead grew to 10-0 with 10:16 left in the second on William Holscher’s (Commack) 32-yard field goal that capped a 62-yard drive. The series started with a 59-yard pass from Ferreira to Alex Wasserman (Closter, NJ/Northern Valley Demarest) to the Buffalo State 18-yard line.

Buffalo State fumbled on the first play of its ensuing drive and Dan Appley (Herkimer) recovered inside the Bengals’ 20-yard line. Ferreira found Josh Ramirez (Syracuse/Cicero-North Syracuse) wide open for a 16-yard TD pass on the next play to put Cortland ahead 17-0.

The hosts got on the board with a 70-yard scoring drive that was highlighted by a Ricky Bailey 39-yard catch to the 9-yard line. Torrillo eventually found Anthony Covington for a 5-yard TD pass, but the extra point was blocked by Appley for his third blocked kick of the season and Cortland led 17-6.

Cortland quickly answered with a 5-play, 75-yard drive. Jason Carlock (Babylon) caught a 39-yard pass to the Buffalo State 39-yard line that he nearly broke for a score, and Ferreira found Angelo Foster (Newburgh/Newburgh Free Academy) for a 39-yard TD pass on the next play to extend the lead to 24-6.

Buffalo State closed to within 24-12 with 8:13 left in the third quarter on a 28-yard TD pass from Torrillo to Johnson that was nearly intercepted at the goal line before Johnson came down with the ball. The ensuing two-point conversion run attempt failed.

Cortland was held to just 61 yards of offense in the second half, but capitalized on two fourth-quarter turnovers to put the game away. DeLuise intercepted a throw at the Bengals’ 22-yard line early in the period to eventually lead to an Akins 2-yard scoring run. Lewis intercepted a long throw on the second play of the next drive and returned the ball 42 yards to the Buffalo State 38-yard line. Akins also completed the next Cortland possession with a 3-yard TD run with 6:22 left to close the scoring.

Cortland will host nationally ranked and defending Empire 8 champion Alfred next Saturday at 1 p.m.