Buff State Expects to Win Out

Buff State Expects to Win Out
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The Buffalo State Bengals have won 2 of their last 3 games with Casey Kacz as the starting quarterback.
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Richard Pete has seen more carries recently as the Bengals have tried to unload some of the weight off of starting tailback Ismail “Manny” Brooks.

The Buffalo State Bengals’ offense is improving and it has shown in recent weeks.

The Bengals (3-4, 2-3 NJAC) believe they can win out the rest of their season. Quarterbacks’ coach Greg Forest believes it all starts with the progression of mobile quarterback Casey Kacz (Amherst, NY / Sweet Home) in the spread offense.

“He’s still in the developmental stage as a quarterback, but I believe he’s pretty well rounded,” said Forest. “The added dimension with Casey is when the pocket breaks down, he can make a defender miss and either get out on the perimeter and make the play extended by looking down the field to throw the ball or he can just scramble and take off running the ball.”

Kacz has rushed for 281 yards on 40 attempts and has completed 57 of his 103 passes for 645 yards, 4 touchdowns and 3 interceptions since replacing Ryan Lehotsky (N. Royalton, OH / N. Royalton) as the starter in the loss to Montclair State.

Kacz has come a long way since winning the State Championship in his senior year of high school at Sweet Home. He initially started his college career at Chowan University, but he transferred to Edinboro University, before finding his home, transferring this time to Buffalo State College.

“I like the coaches and the [players] the best here,” said Kacz. “I like the offense we run here the best. I get a lot of control to it. I get a lot of authority to change plays, to call my own plays and it’s a more spread-open offense to throw the ball.”

Surrounding Kacz in the spread offense is a group of wide receivers led by physical receivers Mike Doherty (Tonawanda, NY / Kenmore East), and Joe Ferraro (Spencerport, NY / Spencerport) and the speedster Caesarae Lewis (Newbern, AL / Sunshine). Wide receivers’ coach Matt Hanhold believes this is the most talented unit he has had in years in terms of speed.

“The six, seven guys that I play, they all know the system, and they all play the game fast, and they all can make plays,” said Hanhold. “Caesarae with his speed is a little bit above and beyond some of those guys in the speed factor, but each one of those guys is doing their one-eleventh for our offense.

Doherty currently leads the team with 26 receptions and 329 receiving yards with 1 touchdown. Ferraro is second on the team with 19 receptions and 301 receiving yards with 1 touchdown. Lewis is third on the team with 18 receptions for 241 receiving yards and has a team-high 3 touchdowns.

Lewis is originally from Alabama and played at ECC last year, but since he came to Buffalo State, the speedster has begun to earn a role far greater than coach Hanhold could have ever imagined.

Lewis wasn’t originally on the roster at the beginning of camp, but he found a way on the roster and has shown his progression as he has seen more playing time in recent games. He had a 3-touchdown game performance against Keane, which included an 83-yard kick return.

“He’s kind of that X-factor that can go out and be isolated in certain situations,” said Hanhold. “If he can touch the ball 10-12 times a game on the offensive side of the ball, we’ll have some success. Whether it’s go long and letting him go up and make a play, or reverse or on kick returns. He’s an exciting young man, the more touches, the better off we are.”

Running backs’ coach Christian Ozolins believes Ismail “Manny” Brooks (Auburn, NY / Auburn) and Richard Pete (Utica, NY / TR Proctor) have plenty of speed as well. Brooks has been banged up a little bit though, so Pete has been rotating in more to take pressure off of Brooks.

“It seems to be the best thing for us right now,” said Ozolins. “It seems to be the right combination at this time. Either one of them is fine with our pass routes and blocking.”

Currently, Brooks leads the team with 79 carries and 6 touchdowns, but Pete leads the team in rushing with 540 yards on 76 carries. Pete has shown his explosiveness lately with an 83-yard touchdown run against TCNJ believes he complements Brooks.

“I feel that the running backs as a core, we bring a lot to the table,” said Pete. We bring versatile styles and we bring a lot of speed. We bring a lot of confidence, but I feel that I bring leadership, I bring confidence and I bring yards. I’m looking for a touchdown every play basically.”

The Bengals have one more home game left at noon on Saturday Oct. 29 against the Brockport Golden Eagles (1-5, 1-4 NJAC) in the I-90 bowl.

“It’s the I-90 Bowl,” said Doherty. “It’s the biggest game of the year for us.”