UTICA, N.Y. – Brett Segala (Webster/Webster Schroeder) passed for 438 yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winning 3-yard pass to Nick Anderson (Saratoga Springs) with one minute, two seconds remaining, as Cortland defeated host Utica College, 45-38. Cortland improved to 3-1 overall and evened its Empire 8 record at 1-1. Utica dropped to 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the league.
The game featured a combined 1,182 yards of total offense – 688 by Utica and 494 by Cortland. The Pioneers, however, turned the ball over four times compared to two Red Dragon giveaways.
Segala finished 19-for-36 for 438 yards and was not intercepted. His passing total is the third-highest in school history, behind only John Grassi’s 487 yards at Buffalo State in 2014 and Steven Ferreira’s 447 yards in an NCAA home win over Salisbury in 2015.
In addition, Segala and senior receiver Jake Smith (Albany/Guilderland) set a school record for the longest completion when they connected on a 97-yard touchdown pass play in the first quarter. The previous mark was 90 yards from Grassi to Jack Delahunty versus Southern Virginia in 2014.
Anderson finished with eight catches for 171 yards and two scores and Smith caught eight passes for 157 yards and one TD. Alex Wasserman (Closter, NJ/Northern Valley Demarest) caught two passes for 96 yards, including a 74-yard TD grab in the third quarter.
Utica quarterback Logan Wilcox completed 30-of-61 passes for 461 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions. Malcolm Stowe ran 31 times for 211 yards and a TD and caught nine passes for 76 yards. Josh Connor made seven catches for 107 yards and two scores and Imani Vincent made the most of his two receptions as they both went for TDs – one for 78 yards in the first quarter and the other for 25 yards in the fourth quarter.
Denarii Beard (Willingboro, NJ/William Penn Charter (PA)) and Brandon Lewis (Monroe/Monroe-Woodbury) each intercepted passes for the Red Dragons. Beard returned his pick 58 yards for a TD in the second quarter. Max Jean (Lakeview/Malverne) led Cortland with 11 tackles and shared the team lead with Lewis with two pass breakups. Gregory Alfieri (Hawthorne/Westlake) and Isaac Hicks III (Staten Island/Curtis) each recorded nine tackles. Utica’s Dehstin Smart finished with nine tackles, three for losses, along with two pass breakups, and Antonio Scala made nine tackles and recovered a fumble.
Utica trailed 38-21 late in the third quarter but rallied to tie the game. Stowe ran for a 3-yard TD late in the third, and Vincent’s second TD catch of the game capped an 83-yard scoring drive with 5:47 left in the fourth to cut the deficit to 38-35. The Pioneers then recovered a fumble at the Cortland 32-yard line on the Red Dragons’ next play from scrimmage and looked poised to take the lead. Facing 3rd-and-goal at the Cortland 1-yard line, however, Stowe was tackled for a loss by Cory McArthur (Saratoga Springs) and Tanner Olson (Massapequa), and Utica had to settle for a Maki Medici 19-yard field goal with 2:02 left to tie the game at 38-38.
Cortland answered with a seven-play, 65-yard drive for the winning touchdown. Segala connected with Angelo Foster (Newburgh/Newburgh Free Academy) for 14 yards, followed by 13-yard and 4-yard passes to Smith. Later in the drive, on 3rd-and-11 from the Utica 39, Segala hit Anderson on a deep pass near the right pylon of the end zone. Anderson was ruled down at the 1-yard line and, following a 2-yard loss, Segala hit Anderson in the back right corner of the end zone for a TD and a 45-38 Cortland lead with 1:02 remaining. Utica’s final drive stalled at its own 43-yard line after two completions followed by four incomplete passes, including breakups by Jean on second down and Ben Mauro (Webster/Webster Schroeder) on fourth down.
Cortland took an early 7-0 lead on an Anderson 29-yard TD catch. Utica answered with Vincent’s 78-yard TD reception as he outleaped one defender for the catch and then broke a tackle attempt from another defender. Zach Tripodi (New Fairfield, CT), however, blocked the PAT kick. Later in the quarter, the Pioneers fumbled the ball away at the Cortland 2-yard line. Two plays later, Segala threw deep to Smith at about the Cortland 30-yard line and Smith raced untouched the rest of the way for a 97-yard TD and a 14-6 Cortland lead.
Wilcox hit Connor for a 33-yard TD pass, as well as a two-point conversion pass, to tie the game early in the second. Beard gave Cortland the lead back when Wilcox collided with his own running back and had the ball slip from his hands as he tried to pass. Beard intercepted the ball and ran 58 yards for a score and a 21-14 lead. Utica tied the game on a 12-yard Wilcox to Connor TD connection with 53 seconds left, but Cortland drove 33 yards in just 46 seconds, including an Anderson 30-yard catch, to set up Nick Mongelli’s (Marlboro) 39-yard field goal with six seconds left before halftime.
Cortland built its 38-21 lead in the first 12 minutes of the third quarter on a Johnnie Akins (Roosevelt) 3-yard TD run and Wasserman’s 74-yard TD catch.
Cortland will play at home for the first time in nearly a month when the Red Dragons host Morrisville State next Saturday at noon during Homecoming and C-Club Hall of Fame Weekend. SUNY Cortland is also celebrating the College’s 150th Birthday with Sesquicentennial weekend festivities.