Cortland football takes down Union in inaugural 'New York Bowl'

SUNY Cortland celebrates Saturday's victory over Union to win the first-ever New York Bowl game (Photo provided by Empire 8 Athletic Conference).

Box Score

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. - Steven Ferreira (West Sayville/Sayville) threw four first-half touchdown passes and Devin Smith (Utica/Utica Notre Dame) scored what proved to be the winning points on a strange fumble recovery as Cortland defeated host Union College, 35-28, to win the inaugural New York Bowl.

The game pitted top non-NCAA qualifying teams from both the Empire 8, Cortland's conference, and the Liberty League. Both teams finished the season with 7-4 records. Cortland was making its third straight postseason appearance and 21st overall.

Ferreira completed 13-of-21 passes for 232 yards and four scores with no interceptions, and he led Cortland on the ground with 70 yards on 14 rushes. Ferreira finishes as Cortland's career leader with 456 completions, 6,271 passing yards, 57 TD passes, and 6,917 yards of total offense. Dick Puccio completed 451 passes from 1988-91, Dan Pitcher threw 54 TD passes from 2008-11, and J.J.Tutwiler complied 6,007 passing yards and 6,598 yards of total offense from 2000-03.

Union led 7-0 after driving 50 yards on the game's opening possession following a Griffin Beal 41-yard kickoff return. Connor Kinzelmann scored on a 21-yard run to give the Dutchmen the lead with just 1:57 elapsed.

Cortland, however, scored four straight touchdowns to take a 28-7 halftime lead. Ferreira connected with Nick Anderson (Jacksonville, FL/Saratoga Springs (NY)) for a 20-yard TD pass on Cortland's first possession, and later in the quarter capped a 70-yard drive with a 22-yard scoring pass to Dakym Davis (Buffalo/Hutch Tech).

Union appeared poised to tie the game early in the second quarter with a 2nd-and-goal situation at the Cortland 1-yard line. Kinzelmann, however, was stopped short of the end zone on three attempts to preserve the Cortland lead. Isaac Hicks (Staten Island/Curtis) and Dan Appley (Herkimer) made a tackle for a 1-yard loss on second down, and Cory McArthur (Saratoga Springs) recorded the tackles on third and fourth downs to close the goal-line stand.

Cortland then drove 98 yards on nine plays for a touchdown and a 21-7 lead. Ferreira hit Alex Wasserman (Closter, NJ/Northern Valley Demarest) for 34 yards to the Union 40, and eventually concluded the drive with a 24-yard pass to tight end Dave Stegemann (Manlius/Fayetteville-Manlius) for Stegemann's first career touchdown.

Union's next drive ended when Max Jean (Lakeview/Malverne) intercepted a pass in the end zone, and it took the Red Dragons only six plays to drive for another score. The final 27 came on Anderson's second TD catch of the day, and Cortland led 28-7 with 1:44 left before halftime. The hosts had a final chance to score before halftime at the Cortland 9-yard line and eight seconds remaining, but two straight passes to the end zone were incomplete.

The tide turned in Union's favor in the second half. Union's first drive of the half was kept alive by a fourth-down pass interference call in Union territory, and later in the series Union quarterback Nick Cascione completed a 22-yard pass to Alex Kaplanovich, followed by a 20-yard TD pass to Beal, and the Dutchmen were within two scores.

Cortland struggled offensively in the third quarter, but found itself with great field position when Hicks intercepted a pass early in the fourth. He returned the ball 16 yards to the Union 26-yard line, with an unsportsmanlike conduct call pushing the ball to the 13.

After three rushes netted nine yards, Cortland elected to attempt a 20-yard field goal on 4th-and-1 at the Union 4-yard line. Jack Reilly blocked the kick and recovered the ball near the line of scrimmage. Reilly, however, fumbled the ball during his return attempt, with Smith recovering for a 4-yard return touchdown to put the Red Dragons up 35-14 with 10:40 remaining.

Union drove into Cortland territory on its next series, but turned the ball over on downs when Jean made a tackle at the 11-yard line after a nine-yard completion to keep the Dutchmen a yard shy of the sticks. Cortland, however, fumbled the ball away on the next play, and two plays later Cascione threw a 4-yard TD pass to Kaplanovich and Cortland led 35-21 with 7:16 left.

After a Union onside kick attempt went out of bounds, Cortland started on the Dutchmen's 31-yard line. A fumble three plays into the series gave the ball back to the hosts, and they marched 71 yards on 12 plays to pull within a score. Cascione took care of the last four yards with a TD run, and Cortland's lead was just 35-28 with 1:53 left.

Anderson recovered Union's onside kick attempt, but Cortland netted only three yards on three plays. Union burned its final two timeouts during that sequence, and Nick Mongelli's (Marlboro) 50-yard punt went for a touchback with 45 seconds left. Union was able to drive to its own 47-yard line on six plays before an incomplete pass ended the game.

Cascione finished 26-of-54 passing for 333 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for a TD, but was intercepted twice and sacked seven times. He passed for 202 yards in the second half. Beal caught 13 passes for 201 yards and a score and Kinzelmann ran 25 times for 101 yards and one TD.

Ferreira completed just one pass for five yards in the second half after going 12-of-16 for 227 yards and the four touchdowns over the first 30 minutes. Anderson finished with four catches for 61 yards and two scores, Wasserman caught four passes for 95 yards, and Johnnie Akins (Roosevelt) ran 18 times for 59 yards. Mongelli averaged 42 yards per punt on four kicks.

Appley finished with three of Cortland's seven sacks among his 5.5 total tackles for loss. Appley and Kyle Richard (Lakeview/Malverne) each registered a game-high 11 tackles, and Hicks added 10 tackles along with an interception and pass breakup.

Jake Lombardo paced Union's defense with 10 tackles and a pass breakup and George Reed had nine stops. Reilly and Vincent DiCaterino each forced a fumble.

Union finished with a 440-390 advantage in total offense, although Cortland outrushed Union 158-107 on 40 attempts each.