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The Bengals received another strong performance from their defense, allowing just 272 yards of total offense in a 22-7 victory over Frostburg State, who went 0 for 13 on their third-down conversion attempts.
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Ryan Lehotsky replaced the injured Casey Kacz for the second straight game, completing 12 of 24 passes for 158 yards with a touchdown and an interception
After snapping their three-game losing streak last week against Ithaca, the Buffalo State football team is now on a three-game road winning streak dating back to their victory against UW-Whitewater.
The Bengals received another strong performance from their defense, allowing just 272 yards of total offense in a 22-7 victory over Frostburg State, who went 0 for 13 on their third-down conversion attempts. Buffalo State gained 439 yards of total offense with 295 passing yards and 144 rushing yards.
“The defense has played very well within the last two weeks and offensively we have played well enough and yet we’ve left scores out on the field,” head coach Jerry Boyes said. “We still have to connect on some of the plays and we left a couple of scores out on the field today and we did the same thing last week. That’s a bit disappointing, but we did what we had to do to come away with a win today.”
From the outset of the game, the Bengals’ defense made their presence felt and they started by forcing a three-and-out. Buffalo State took an early 3-0 lead on their first possession with a nine-play 60-yard drive on a 26-yard field goal by kicker Nate Benoit.
“Within the last two weeks, we’ve come out on the first possession and got points right away, which is key because it helps out our defense,” Kacz said. “It gives them confidence and it gives us confidence. When the defense comes out first and they get a stop, I think we get confidence off that.”
After forcing another three-and-out for Frostburg, the Bengals followed up with a 39-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Casey Kacz to wide receiver Ryan Carney. Buffalo State tried to the fake extra point, but failed on the two-point conversion, making the score 9-0.
“I saw one of their corners pressed up on Carney, so I gave him a go-route and Carney made a great move on the kid,” said Kacz. “He went to the outside and kind of threw the cornerback down and was wide open.”
Frostburg offense responded with an eight-play 75-yard drive, but the Bengals’ defense forced a turnover on downs after defensive tackle T’rezz Bailey stuffed running back JD Hook on fourth-and-goal at the one-yard line.
On Buffalo State’s next possession, Kacz suffered an injury and backup quarterback Ryan Lehotsky had to come in and replace him. Lehotsky complete a 36-yard pass to wide receiver Caesarae Lewis on his first play, but was intercepted by strong safety Rowan Pinkett three plays later.
“We ran option and I kept it myself and broke up the field along the sideline,” Kacz said. “I thought there was a late hit and the kid basically tackled me and I was driven to the ground. I knew when I got tackled that it wasn’t too good. It was hurting pretty bad right away.”
Following three-and-outs by both teams on their next possessions, Frostburg utilized the ground attack to set themselves up with another chance to score, but once again failed in their attempt. Kicker Jonathan Adams hit the right upright and missed his 25-yard field goal attempt.
Buffalo State went deep into enemy territory on their final drive of the half, but failed to convert on 4th-and-4 at the Frostburg 14-yard line. The Bobcats tried to put together a drive before half, but quarterback Ken Emmons was sacked by defensive end Dez Howard and they let the clock run out with the Bengals leading 9-0 at halftime.
Coming out of halftime, the Bengals had the ball first and Lehotsky orchestrated a 12-play 77-yard drive, capped off by a nine-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver John Beers to give Buffalo State a 15-0 lead. Benoit tried to convert the extra point attempt but had it blocked by defensive tackle Jeremiah Williams.
“Ryan Lehotsky had a great scramble and made a great throw,” Beers said. “It was pretty huge. It got everybody going. It gave us confidence in ourselves.”
Neither team could produce much offensively for the rest of the third quarter and in the early parts of the fourth quarter, but Frostburg took a gamble on 4th-and-2 at their 33-yard line and got burned. Linebacker/safety Jordan Boser prevented the conversion, allowing just a one-yard completion from Emmons to Hook.
Taking over after the turnover on downs, Buffalo State extended their lead to 22-0 on an 11-yard TD run by wide receiver Sherman Nelson. It was set up by a 21-yard gain by running back Manny Brooks.
“It was a reverse and it was a great play call at the time,” Nelson said. “The o-line and the tight end did a great job blocking and it was just my job to reach the pylon for the touchdown. It was really important because there was still a lot of time on the clock and they could easily have scored another touchdown.”
Frostburg answered back with an Emmons’ 2-yard touchdown pass to Hayden Roberts to end an 11-play 75-yard drive, but time was not on their side. The Bengals recovered the on-side kick and ran out the remaining 3:09 left on the clock with their backups.
Lehotsky finished the game completing 12 of 24 passes for 158 yards with a touchdown and an interception after replacing Kacz, who completed 7 of 11 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. Running back Rich Pete led ground attack with nine carries for 73 yards and Brooks ran 11 times for 65 yards.
“[Lehotsky] again came in and did a real solid job for us,” Boyes said. “It’s unfortunate with [Kacz’s] injury and we’ll know more next week where that goes, but I really commend Ryan for coming in both of the last two weeks now and performing and carrying the team to a victory.”
Buffalo State will try to win their straight conference game on Saturday against Hartwick at noon during homecoming and “Senior Day”. Hartwick is currently in the midst of a four-game losing streak after falling 43-7 to Utica this past Saturday.
“I plan on playing Saturday,” Kacz said. “I just need to take good care of [my injury] during the week, but it’ll be up to the trainers. They get the final decision, but I want to play and I’m going to do everything I can to get ready for it.”