Football preps for clash with Utica following bye

AJ Speier/BSC-TV


Dave DeLuca/The Record

Running back Rich Pete (5) leads the Empire 8 in rushing, averaging 124 yards-per-game.

Dan Almasi, Associates Sports Editor

The Buffalo State football team is off to its best start since 1999. The Bengals are tied with St. John Fisher at first place in the Empire 8 with a record of 5-1 and hope to improve upon their current three-game winning streak when they take on the Utica Pioneers (4-3) at Coyer Field on Oct. 25 following the bye week.

Sophomore quarterback Kyle Hoppy was benched last week in the first half against Ithaca and junior Dan Serignese took over at the offensive helm. Serignese led the Bengals to a 38-27 comeback win, but Hoppy will reclaim the role of starting quarterback come Saturday according to Head Coach Jerry Boyes.

“Kyle’s starting,” Boyes said. “He struggled a little bit and it was great than Dan came in in relief and did a great job. That adds a lot of comfort to us. But one game doesn’t change things at this point in time. I fully expect Kyle to come back strong and perform the way he has in previous games.”

Buffalo State is 1-1 against Utica all-time. Last year, they beat the Pioneers 34-19. It was a close game at the half, as the Bengals held a 14-13 lead at half before a 20-point fourth-quarter surge put them over the top. In 2012, Buffalo State had a late-game meltdown as they allowed Utica to post 30 points in the fourth quarter, erasing a 37-21 Buffalo State lead going into halftime. The Pioneers defeated the Bengals, 51-44, in the first ever meeting between the two teams.

This year’s contest is shaping up to be a good matchup between two strong teams. Utica is more defensively-oriented while Buffalo State boasts a dynamic, high-powered offense. Utica is allowing just under 20 points-per-game while Buffalo State has allowed opponents to average about 30 points-per-game. The Bengals hold the offensive edge, though, as they are posting nearly 40 points per game versus the Pioneers’ average of 28.

Buffalo State has managed to run a very balanced offensive attack this season, picking up 1,144 yards and 55 first downs on the ground while gaining 1,427 yards through the air while moving the sticks 53 times. Utica has gained first-down yardage on 44 rushing plays while moving the sticks via passing on 53 occasions, rushing for 887 yards and gaining 1,259 via the passing game.

Utica has done very well protecting their quarterback this season as they have allowed only four sacks. The Bengals have been solid in pass protection also, allowing defenders to get to the quarterback just six times for 34 yards. The Pioneers have registered 11 sacks for 62 yards while the Bengals have nine sacks for 58 yards. Utica also has a strong passing game, including one of the top receivers in the Empire 8, Anthony Acevedo.

“They have a very good receiver we’ve got to be aware of,” said Boyes of Acevedo, who is averaging

90.7 receiving yards per game. “A lot of people say he’s the best in the conference. I like to think we’ve got some pretty good receivers, too. But he’s made a difference. He’s a guy [who] we’ve got to know where he is all the time.”

Buffalo State has been practicing hard on the bye week to make sure they’re ready to take on a strong Utica team. Boyes is confident, but knows a win is never a sure thing in the Empire 8.

“Utica’s a very sound football team on both sides of the ball,” said Boyes. “I can probably say that about any team in our conference. We’ve got a very tough, competitive division. [There’s] a lot of parity. Anybody can win on any given week, and that’s proven itself true the last three years that we’ve been in the Empire 8.”