BUFFALO, NY—Buffalo State (0-3/0-2) overcame a 23-0 halftime deficit, but Justin McLendon (S. Brunswick, NJ/S. Brunswick) ripped off a late 85-yard kick return to reclaim the lead for Kean (2-1/2-1), and the Cougars held on for a 33-29 victory to spoil the Bengals' Homecoming today at Coyer Field.
Buffalo State climbed all the way back and took its first lead of the game at 29-26 with 5:53 remaining, but McLendon took the ensuing kickoff the distance thwart the Bengals' comeback bid.
Jay Gwaltney (Wyandanch, NY/N. Babylon) was the workhorse for Kean, rushing the ball 31 times for 131 yards and two scores, and added five catches for 30 yards. Anthony Giordano (Clifton, NJ/Clifton) finished the day 14 of 22 for 141 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Ryan Lehotsky (N. Royalton, OH/N. Royalton) bounced back from a tough opening half for Buffalo State to finish the day 5 of 12 for 106 yards with a touchdown and two picks. Rob Smith (Rochester/McQuaid) had four catches for 106 yards and a score. Gibran Johnson (Buffalo/Dutchtown (GA)) led the Bengals on the ground with 18 carries for 89 yards and a score, and Greg Spears (Syracuse/Henninger) had 10 carries for 29 yards and two scores.
A Billy Daniels' (Ridgefield, NJ/Ridgefield) 21-yard field goal opened the scoring after some sloppy play by both teams early. The Cougars extended their lead to 10-0 with eight seconds remaining in the first quarter on a 5-yard scoring run by Gwaltney.
Kean found the end zone twice more in the second quarter, scoring on a 21-yard pass from Giordano to Matt Puorro (Pt. Pleasant, NJ/Pt. Pleasant Boro), and another 5-yard run by Gwaltney.
Buffalo State had drive starts at the Kean 9 and 27-yard lines in the first half after Cougar fumbles, but stalled out both times and came away with no points, trailing 23-0 at the intermission.
The Bengals finally took advantage of a short field on its first possession of the second half after an acrobatic interception by Josh Mims (Syracuse/Nottingham) put Buffalo State in business at the Kean 37. The drive appeared to stall, but a Kean personal foul kept the drive alive, and the Bengals found the end zone on the next play with a 13-yard Johnson scamper.
A 42-yard Kean field goal by Daniels was the only other score of the third quarter, before Buffalo State scored the first 22 points of the final period.
After Mims recovered a fumble in Kean territory, Lehotsky hit Smith on a 46-yard scoring strike on the next play. Lehotsky and Smith connected on a 43-yard play to start the Bengals' next possession, and the Bengals got back in the end zone on a six-yard Spears' run.
Kean miscued again on its next possession with a bad snap on a punt attempt, giving the Bengals the ball on the Cougars' 14. Buffalo State pulled ahead with a 1-yard Spears run, but Kean pulled ahead for good just seconds later.
Buffalo State will host Rowan next Saturday at noon.