BUFFALO, NY—Junior quarterback Casey Kacz (Amherst/Sweet Home) threw for a school-record 579 yards and led Buffalo State (1-0) to a 49-31 victory over visiting Cortland (0-1) in the season opener today at Coyer Field.
Kacz finished 30 of 42 and matched a school mark with five touchdown passes against just one interception as he paced the Bengals to a school best 706 yards of total offense. Freshman receiver Ryan Carney (Olean/Olean) led the receiving corps with 12 catches for 242 yards and two scores, and Caesarae Lewis (Newbern, AL/Sunshine) had seven grabs for 156 yards, including two scores. Rich Pete (Utica/Proctor) added 183 yards of total offense with 12 carries for 103 yards and two scores, and had three catches for 80 yards.
Pasquale Vacchio (Glen Head/North Shore) led the Bengals' defense with nine tackles, including three for loss. Matt Wesolowski (Elma/Iroquois) also had nine tackles and an interception, and junior Chris Hall (Pasadena, CA/St. Francis) also matched a school record with three interceptions in his Buffalo State debut.
The win snapped a six-game losing streak against the Red Dragons, and was the first opening day win for the Bengals since 2007.
Cortland senior quarterback Chris Rose (Victor/Victor) threw for 296 yards and four touchdowns in his first collegiate start, but also had five interceptions, finishing 23 for 37. Mike Humphrey (LeRoy/LeRoy) was his top target, catching six balls for 168 yards and scored three times. Andre Green (Philadelphia/Indian River) had 10 solo tackles to lead Cortland's defense.
The teams raced up and down the field in the first half, only punting once each, and Buffalo State led 28-21 at the intermission.
After a home run ball slipped through Lewis's hands on the opening play, he reeled in a 68-yard scoring catch just three plays later to give the Bengals a 7-0 lead just 57 seconds into the game. Then Cortland needed just 2:38 on its opening possession to even the score at 7-7 on a 23-yard touchdown catch by Humphrey.
After both teams traded turnovers, Buffalo State reclaimed the lead on a 32-yard scamper by Pete. Cortland knotted the score at 14-14 on its next possession before the first quarter came to an end on Humphrey's second score of the game from 3 yards.
Buffalo State punted on the ensuing possession, but got the ball back after Hall's second interception of the day in Cortland territory. Kacz needed just four plays to hit Carney for a 4-yard strike to go ahead 21-14.
Justin Autera (Mahopac/Mahopac) then gave the Red Dragons a short field with a 43-yard kick return, and two plays later Rose hit Kordel McInnis (Sewell, NJ/Washington Twp.) for a 23-yard score.
Buffalo State completed the first-half scoring with Lewis's second touchdown catch, splitting defenders to snag a 20-yard bullet from Kacz and put the Bengals up 28-21. Buffalo State drove deep into Cortland territory again, but Anthony Bayer (Hazlet, NJ/Raritan) picked off a Kacz pass on the 1-yard line with just 15 seconds remaining.
Cortland opened the second-half scoring with a 32-yard field goal by Mike DeBole (Webster/Webster Schroeder), but the Red Dragons would never pull even. Buffalo State answered with an 8-play, 82-yard drive capped by a 25-yard TD pass from Kacz to Lewis to push the lead to 35-24.
The Red Dragons cut the deficit back to four on the final play of the fourth quarter on a controversial 79-yard catch and run by Humphrey. He appeared to be tackled around midfield, but rolled over on top of the defender and continued to run to the end zone.
The Bengals answered with another methodical drive, covering 71 yards on nine plays, including a fourth-and-8 conversion (21-yard pass from Casz to Carney), culminating with a 1-yard run by Pete on the option. After a three-and-out by Cortland, Buffalo State completed the scoring with 8:04 remaining on a 49-yard catch and run by Carney.
Cortland had two more possessions, both ending in interceptions by Wesolowski and Eddie Weiser (Grand Island/Grand Island) in Bengals' territory.
Buffalo State will travel to compete in the I-90 Bowl against rival Brockport next Saturday at 1 p.m, and Cortland will open NJAC play at home against West Conn State.