Bengals Drop First Game in the Empire 8

Bengals Drop First Game in the Empire 8
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Buffalo State suffered a disappointing 40-17 loss to Alfred University after earning national attention for their win over Wisconsin-Whitewater this past week.
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Chuck Beckwith ran for 177 yards and three touchdowns on eight carries. Alfred had 401 rushing yards on the day.

Entering their first game as a member of the Empire 8 Conference, things didn’t go as planned for the Buffalo State football team.

The Bengals, who were coming off of an upset win against Wisconsin-Whitewater took a 10-7 lead over Alfred University into halftime, but the Saxons ran the ball effectively in the second half to win the game 40-17.

“It disappoints me how obviously we didn’t learn much of a lesson last Saturday,” said head coach Jerry Boyes. “I’ve always said that some of your best lessons learned come through adversity. I felt that this win last week really was a great lesson that served to the kids on how you have to get ready to be successful, but it’s obvious that we didn’t learn that.”

After holding Wisconsin-Whitewater, a team who averaged 221.3 rushing yards per game last season to 123 , the Bengals allowed 401 rushing yards to Alfred. Fullback Chuck Beckwith led his team with 177 yards and three touchdowns on eight carries, after losing Tyler DeRosa to a season-ending injury in the first quarter.

Buffalo State started the game off trying to establish the ground game early with running back Rich Pete, but quarterback Casey Kacz fumbled on an option play which was recovered by strong safety Reggie Pressley at the Bengals’ 33 yard line. The Saxons responded by failing to convert a 4th-and-5, turning the ball back over to the Bengals.

The Saxons held the Bengals to a three-and-out on their next possession before Jonathan Ruffin broke free to block the punt by Joe Going. It was recovered by Andy Ruddock, who returned it 18 yards for a touchdown, giving Alfred University a 7-0 lead.

“They just overloaded our left side and I guess we just got confused,” said Going. “They had more than one guy come through, so we really didn’t have a chance. I just did whatever I could to get it off, but it didn’t really matter what I did.”

Kacz answered with a 63 yard touchdown screen pass to running back Ismail Brooks to even the score 7-7. Alfred went three-and-out with their next possession and Kacz had his pass intercepted by free safety Jon Jackson.

Alfred came out running the ball on their next drive led by running back Tyler DeRosa who had gains of 30 and 39 yards to get his team to the Bengals’ one yard line. The Saxons tried to rush it in four times, but the Jordan Boser stopped them the first two attempts and Tawone Williams stuffed them the final two attempts for the goal line stand.

“We called a heavy nose which is me and another tackle,” said Williams. “We were head up on the center and basically from there, it’s just, who’s the stronger man and who has the will to stop them. We ended up doing that.”

Buffalo State struggled with their pass attack on the next possession and was forced to punt, but wide receiver Maleke Fuentes fumbled the return and cornerback Chris Hall recovered. The drive end with a 24 yard field goal by Nate Benoit to give the Bengals a 10-7 lead.

Neither team could get anything going offensively for the rest of the 2nd quarter until the Bengals’ last drive of the first half when Benoit missed a 22 yard field goal wide right with 38 seconds left. Alfred ran one play to let the clock run down, so they could make some half time adjustments.

“Our defense really bottled them up very well in the first half and gave us so many opportunities that we could’ve taken advantage of,” Boyes said. “Some of it was dropped passes and things of that nature are a part of the game. You don’t like it, but quite frankly, it took us out of drives and scoring opportunities. Not to have that score at the end of the half and put any points on the board.”

Alfred opened the second half in the wildcat formation with a 35 yard pass from wide receiver Jonathan Ruffin to wide receiver Josh Phillips. Quarterback Zach Sopak finished the drive off with a one yard touchdown pass to Adam Schutz, but a block extra point by Williams made it a 13-10 lead for the Saxons.

“Basically I just didn’t want them to score,” Williams said. “Most people on extra points won’t try because it’s one point, but we needed something to try to change the game around.”

Both teams exchanged punts on their next possession, but the Saxons prevented the Bengals from converting 4th-and-6. Alfred used the momentum to score on a 31 yard touchdown run by Beckwith to take a 20-10 lead.

Buffalo State had another three-and-out on offense and the Saxons scored again, this time with a 52 yard run by Beckwith to make it a 27-10 game. The Bengals answered back early in the fourth quarter with a 2 yard touchdown pass from Kacz to Brooks and were down 27-17, but Beckwith took the first carry 80 yards for another Alfred score and a 34-17 lead.

“They came out playing hard,” said Beckwith. “We just had a game plan and we executed it against them. We looked at their tendencies and had a good scheme.”

“He ran hard,” Williams said. “He found open holes and took full advantage of it, obviously. He got those two big runs. One of them we had him wrapped up, but we let him go.”

The Bengals went three-and-out in their next possession and the Saxons responded with an 11-play 77-yard drive to run down the clock as kicker Zach Tavolaro missed a 22 yard field goal with 4:19 left in the game.

Kacz turned the ball over with another fumble and Alfred capitalized with a 10 yard touchdown pass from Sopak to Fuentes. A missed extra point by Tavolaro made the score 40-17 with 1:15 left in the game, but time ran out on the Bengals.

“I honestly feel like they didn’t stop us,” said Kacz. “We had a couple of turnovers and like I said, we missed blocks. I missed throws. It’s a combination of us eleven guys on offense, not doing their job at the same time.”

Kacz completed 17 of 34 passes for 225 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Pete had 71 rushing yards on 15 carries and had a team-leading five receptions for 29 yards. Brooks finished with 10 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown as well as two receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown.

The Bengals will look to bounce back this Saturday at home against Salisbury at 12 p.m. The Seagulls are coming off of a bye week and are currently ranked seventh in poll and 11th in American Football Coaches Association.