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’92 football team began a dynasty for Buffalo State

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As they were (unsuccessfully) getting kicked off the field after being honored at halftime of Saturday’s football game, Jim Weigel and Dean Miceli couldn’t help themselves.

Weigel found a ball somewhere on the sidelines and ended up running plays with Miceli against air, on the turf just as if they were actually playing in the game.

They weren’t the only ones. Nobody wanted to leave the field and breakup the reunion.

“Coach Boyes called us the Buffalo State football family and he was right,” Miceli said. “We were family and we stuck together.”

Weigel, Miceli and their teammates from the 1992 Buffalo State football team were honored as the first team to win a playoff game in school history.

After going 7-2 in the regular season, the Bengals had earned themselves a spot in the Division-III National Championship tournament, but the team became even more excited once they found out who their opponent was going to be.

In The Record a 1992 article stated: “When the East region bracket appeared on the screen, the Bengals let out a roar that revived their namesakes. Not because BSC had qualified for 16-team national championship tournament for the first time in their history; they had already assumed that. It was the Bengals’ first-round opponent that drew the vengeful, bloodthirsty howls of the players:

“Ithaca.”

Buffalo State was looking for revenge after the Blue Bombers had defeated them 21-13 in a game in which the Bengals had gained more the double the number of yards their opponent did. Buff State believed it had been cheated in that game.

“Earlier in the season we had faced them and there were a couple of controversial calls,” Miceli said. “A touchdown that I had scored was called back. Another touchdown was called back. We thought we beat them that day. To have them in a rematch was very special.”

That set the stage for the Bengals as they went back to Ithaca, but this time with much more on the line.

The Blue Bombers were the favorites and were the defending the national champions. Not many, expected Buff State to pull off the upset.

Mike Harrington made the trip to cover the game for The Buffalo News. As he reflects back, on his career the Bengals’ win over Ithaca stands out.

“I covered college football for six years and the Ithaca game was one of the most memorable I covered,” Harrington said. “Not just because it was a great game but because it was so unexpected. Buff State had a nice team that season but no one thought they were going in there and winning. Ithaca was coming off a national championship season and Buffalo State had four straight 1-win seasons a few years before.”

The Bengals had the energy and took it to Ithaca early in the game.

A 71-yard run by Weigel set up an 8-yard touchdown pass to Tyrone Fisher for the game’s first score. The Bengals recovered the ensuing kickoff and a few plays later converted the flea-flicker pass to Steve Otremba for another touchdown giving them the 14-0 lead.

“… When the flea-flicker happened, I remember the whole stadium being in shock except for the few people on the opposite side of the press box,” Harrington reflected. “That’s when I first thought a win (for Buff State) was possible.”

Early in the second quarter, Weigel hit Miceli for a 9-yard score. Unfortunately, that would be the last time the two would connect for a score in a college football game.

Weigel was knocked out of the game and done for the year, when he was sacked and got a fractured arm later in the second quarter.

Then came in freshman Tracy Bacon, who had only 11 pass attempts all season.

Miceli remembers he and the rest of the guys being nervous when Bacon came in, but he ultimately showed he could do the job.

“Tracy came in and we went 3 and out so guys were a little shocked, but then we came out for the next drive and he put us on his back,” Miceli said. “It gave us the confidence him. That turned the game around for us.”

In a tight game, Bacon led the Buffalo State offense on an 11-play, 84-yard drive that was capped off with a 17-yard pass Miceli for the Bengals’ final score of the game.

The toughness of the defense that day was on display as they faced six Ithaca drives in the second half that started in their own territory. They stepped in the end stopping a two-point conversion late in the game.

“The defense’s biggest moments came in the final minutes,” said in The Buffalo News’ 1992 article. “Ithaca (9-2) had pulled within 28-26 on Joe Fitzgerald’s 9-yard TD pass to Tom Cahill with 3:01 left. But the potential tying conversion pass failed when the Bengals’ coverage, and an overthrown pass, forced Cahill to make a catch just out of the end zone.”

“Hats off to the defense,” Boyes said to The Buffalo News in 1992. “They came up with hearts as big as this field. … A bunch of guys came up with big, big plays.”

The next week the Bengals suffered a loss to Rowan, but the win against Ithaca was the beginning for a long run of success for the program. Buffalo State followed up the 1992 season with four straight NCAA appearances and won at least seven games a season for the rest of the decade.

“It was the start of something,” Boyes said in a recent interview with The Record. “You don’t talk about tradition in one or two years, but after four or five years you can talk about tradition. It was fun.”

For Weigel, a senior on the team, it was a journey from the bottom to the top as the Bengals won only one game in his freshman year.

“It was the creation of a dynasty. It was certainly a turning point for Buffalo State,” Weigel said. “I’m honored to be part of the foundation.”

Certain traits made teams special. What enhanced the 92 football team and the year to come was their persistence to do it right. Boyes didn’t have to pull teeth with these guys, the players kept on top of each other.

“They were willing to hold their teammates accountable,” Boyes said. “If someone didn’t get the job done, or was late or not where they were supposed to be, they got after each other.”

Even though 25 years have gone by, the players still keep in touch.

“We really are a family and I see a lot of these guys often,” Weigel said.

“I’m kind of the organizer. I put together the group texting and stuff like that,” Miceli said. “I still talk with them. Tracy Bacon sent a video on my birthday of one my touchdowns. It was awesome.”

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SUNY Buffalo State's award-winning student news outlet since 1913
’92 football team began a dynasty for Buffalo State