UTICA, N.Y. – Ryan Burnett rushed for 144 yards and a touchdown and Desmond Akpanoko kicked four field goals as Utica College defeated visiting Cortland, 24-13, in an Empire 8 contest.
The Pioneers improved to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the league. Cortland, ranked 23rd nationally, fell to 2-2 overall and 0-2 in conference play.
Utica quarterback Teddy VanGalen completed 15-of-30 passes for 240 yards, including six passes to Jerred Beniquez for 70 yards. Akpanoko was 4-of-5 on field goal attempts, including a 31-yarder with 3:10 remaining that created the final margin. Utica's defense recorded five interceptions, including two by Dehstin Smart. Juwan Wilson and Anthony Beaubrun each made 10 tackles, with Beaubrun also picking off a pass, and Smart finished with nine tackles.
Freshman DeAngelo Walker (Buffalo/Kenmore West) started at quarterback for Cortland. He rushed for 66 yards on 15 carries and went 10-of-18 through the air for 86 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Jake Smith (Albany/Guilderland) caught three passes, one for a score. Defensively, Mark DelPrete (Staten Island/Monsignor Farrell) returned an interception for a touchdown, Tom Hagan (Hopewell Junction/John Jay-East Fishkill) made 10 tackles, 3.5 for losses, and Carson Lassiter (Madison, NJ) recorded eight tackles.
Utica finished with 392 yards of total offense to Cortland's 255 yards, including a 240-99 margin through the air. The Pioneers also enjoyed a 37:09-22:51 advantage in time of possession.
Akpanoko made a 28-yard field goal five minutes into the game to put Utica on the board. Cortland answered with a 78-yard scoring drive that culminated in a 15-yard TD pass from Walker to Smith to give the Red Dragons their lone lead of the day at 7-3.
Utica went up 9-7 early in the second on a Lindell Reed 1-yard TD run, but missed the extra point. Later in the quarter, Akpanoko made a 24-yard field goal and the Pioneers led 12-7 at intermission. That score was set up by a Smart interception that bounced off a couple of players before settling into his arms.
The hosts extended their lead to 18-7 on a 10-play, 75-yard scoring drive on their opening possession of the second half. Burnett capped the drive with a 5-yard TD run, and a two-point conversion pass attempt failed. Cortland drove to the Utica 3-yard line on its next possession, but was stopped short on a 4th-and-1 rush. Two plays later, however, DelPrete picked off VanGalen and ran 23 yards for a touchdown. Cortland's two-point attempt failed and the Red Dragons trailed 18-13.
Utica pushed its lead to eight on a 20-yard Akpanoko field goal three plays into the fourth quarter. Cortland drove to the Utica 23-yard line on its next possession, but came up empty when Kyle Coache blocked a 40-yard field goal attempt. The Pioneers then took more than six minutes off the clock with a 12-play, 64-yard drive, and Akpanoko's 31-yard field goal made it 24-13 with 3:10 left. Cortland's final two possessions ended on interceptions by Smart and Anthony Bierria-Anderson in Red Dragon territory.
Cortland will travel to Hartwick College next Saturday for a 2 p.m. league contest.