ITHACA, NY—Buffalo State (5-1/3-1) forced six turnovers and scored a pair of defensive touchdowns, handing No. 13-ranked Ithaca (4-1/3-1) its first loss of the season, 38-27, in an Empire 8 game today at Butterfield Stadium.
Dan Serignese (Port Jefferson/Vandermuelen) replaced an injured Kyle Hoppy (Orchard Park/Orchard Park) at quarterback and finished 9 for 14 for 155 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Hoppy was 2 for 8 for 16 yards with a pick before leaving the game. Rich Pete (Utica/TR Proctor) was held under 100 yards for the first time all season, but still finished with 97 yards on 20 carries, while Ryan Carney (Olean/Olean) led the receiving corps with four catches for 110 yards. Mitchell Thomas (Buffalo/Sweet Home) led the Bengals' defense with 11 tackles and two interceptions, including a "pick-6."
Ithaca quarterback Tom Dempsey finished 27 for 43 for 356 yards with two touchdowns, but also had three interceptions. Tristan Brown totaled 101 yards rushing with a touchdown on 23 carries. Vito Boffoli had eight catches for 130 yards, and Andrew Tabbert had five grabs for 100 yards.
Buffalo State held a 7-3 lead at the end of the first quarter, despite possessing the ball for just two minutes, 41 seconds. Ithaca drove the opening kickoff into Bengals' territory, but Will Cheshire (Wantagh/MacArthur) picked off a Dempsey pass and returned it 76 yards for the score to give Buffalo State an early lead. Garrett Nicholson booted a 32-yard field goal for Ithaca's first score, and the Bengals were forced to punt on their only offensive possession of the quarter.
Ithaca took a 10-7 lead on a 6-yard run by Brown on the first play of the second quarter, and then scored again on its next possession, assembling a 12-play, 55-yard drive, capped by a 4-yard Dempsey touchdown pass to Ben Cary. Ithaca appeared ready to pull away after Anthony Domenick intercepted Hoppy on the next play and returned it to the Bengals' 8, but Thomas snagged his first of two interceptions in the end zone just two plays later.
The Bengals marched 80 yards in eight plays, and Serignese found tight end Edwin Young (Buffalo/Williamsville North) for his first collegiate touchdown from seven yards out with just 35 seconds remaining in the half. The touchdown cut the deficit to 17-14 heading into the break, and was part of 31-consecutive points scored by the Bengals who would pull away in the second half.
After each team had a stalled drive to open the third quarter, Mike Doherty (Tonawanda/Kenmore East) returned a punt 30 yards and then ended the short drive with a 14-yard touchdown catch from Serignese, reclaiming the Bengals' lead for good. Following another Ithaca punt, the Bengals offense moved down the field again and pushed the lead to 28-17 when Serignese hit fullback Jesse Williams (Lockport/Newfane) for his first career touchdown from two yards out.
Another Ithaca turnover, this time a fumble by Brown that was forced by Shaq Frederick (Brooklyn/Holy Cross) and recovered by Ish Height (Brooklyn/Grand Street Campus) set up another Buffalo State score early in the fourth quarter, as Marc Montana (E. Amherst/St. Joe's) booted a 30-yard field goal. The rout was on as Thomas snagged his second interception of the day on the very next play from scrimmage and took it 26 yards to the house to extend the lead to 38-17.
The Bombers would add a safety when a high snap on a Buffalo State punt attempt went through the end zone and then scored a late touchdown on a 10-yard pass from Dempsey to Cary.
Entering the game, Ithaca boasted the No. 9-ranked scoring defense in the country, allowing just 9.8 points-per-game and had not allowed more than 16 in a single game. Buffalo State finished with 288 total yards, compared to 459 by the Bombers, but won the turnover battle, 6-1.
Buffalo State is now tied for first place in the Empire 8 and will enjoy a bye next week before returning to action against Utica at home on Oct. 25.