Football falls to No. 15 St. John Fisher, 35-25


Dave DeLuca/The Record Junior quarterback Dan Serignese went 10 of 28 for 246 yards and a touchdown in his first career start in a loss to No. 15 St. John Fisher.

Tony Callens, Reporter

Quarterback changes always shake up the dynamic of a football game. Sometimes, the new quarterback rallies the team back and sparks a string of victories. Other times, it can go the opposite way and cause unrest within a locker room.

Buffalo State turned made the switch to quarterback Dan Serignese this week after benching starting quarterback Kyle Hoppy for three-straight weeks due to inconsistent play.

The sophomore made his first collegiate start on the road in the biggest game of the year against St. John Fisher. The Bengals needed a win to keep their Empire 8 title hopes alive, however, Serignese and Buffalo State fell short, losing to the nationally ranked Cardinals, 35-25, on Saturday.

The two teams combined for 916 yards of total offense.

“This game was a very good football game,” Buffalo State head coach Jerry Boyes said. “You can pin point the plays, ‘Jeez if we had done that or done this, if only this.’ We gave up some touchdowns on discipline problems, where we had 10 guys doing exactly what they were supposed to do and one guy [who] does not and unfortunately that’s the guy that’s the key to the play.”

Serignese went 10 for 28, throwing for 246 yards and one touchdown and also scored once on the ground.

Serignese approached the game modestly.

“I pretty much prepared the same way,” Serignese said, “tried not to change anything up and stayed in the same rhythm because I’ve been doing pretty well in the past few games coming off the bench. I just wanted to keep it that way.”

This approach seemed to pay off at first, when he connected with senior wide receiver Ryan Carney on two big plays in the first quarter. The first was a 46-yard completion on the first drive of the game that was capped off by a 6-yard touchdown run by senior running back Rich Pete, his 10th rushing touchdown of the season.

The second was a 73-yard dime of a throw to Carney, who was off to the races to push the Bengals to a 17-14 lead. Carney led the Bengals in receiving with four catches for 133 yards and  one touchdown.

“We came out of the gate with a passing mindset,” Carney said. “We really wanted to focus on getting me and Mike (Doherty) the ball. We knew we would have a tough time running the ball, so I was open and Dan (Serignese) got me the ball.”

After the first quarter, St. John Fisher started getting their offense rolling and controlled the clock as they moved the ball down field with a 90-yard drive that ate up 7:35 of the clock. Buffalo State’s defense bent, but did not break when they stopped the Cardinals on downs at the 2-yard line to shift the momentum going into the half. They entered the intermission down 21-17.

To start the second half, after a Bengals’ punt, St. John Fisher added to their lead with an 11-play, 86-yard drive capped off by a 3-yard Tyler Fenti touchdown run to make the score 28-17. The senior quarterback, who came into the game as the eighth-most efficient quarterback in the nation in passing, went 21 of 30 for 318 and two touchdowns through the air, and did damage on the ground as well with 61 yards and two more touchdowns.

Both of his rushing touchdowns were plays where he practically could have walked into the end zone and the read-option was effective for the Cardinals all game long.

“We were blitzing them all game and we had different assignments on certain blitzes and they took advantage,” junior defensive back Marquis Artis said.

After a few back-and-forth drives to end the third quarter, the Bengals roared back with a 5-yard Serignese touchdown run and a Rich Pete two-point conversion on a recovery from a botched option play to cut the score to 28-25.

Pete was held under 100 yards for the third straight week after starting the season with five straight 100-yard efforts, finishing with 52 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries against a stout run defense.

The Cardinal offense couldn’t be stopped. Early in the fourth quarter, Fenti found a wide open Mike Collichio for the sophomore receiver’s second touchdown of the day. Collichio had a career day with eight catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns.

“We weren’t disciplined on our coverages. We left people open and we just have to be more disciplined,” Artis said.

With a little more than seven minutes left to play in the game, Buffalo State’s defense gave the team hope when they recovered a fumble to set up the offense on the Cardinals’ 37-yard line.

A 30-yard catch and run from Serignese to Mike Doherty set the Bengals up with a first-and-goal at the 3-yard line. Doherty had four catches for 87 yards on the day. On three-straight plays the Bengals were stuffed at the goal line leading to the decisive moment of the game.

The situation was a fourth-and-goal from the St. John Fisher 3-yard line as the Bengals trailed by 10 points. Buffalo State still had two timeouts left and a chip-shot field goal would have made it a one-score game with plenty of time left.

But the coaching staff made the decision to try and get the touchdown to cut the lead to only a field goal. The handoff to Pete was stopped by the Cardinal defense, similar to earlier in the game when the script was flipped on the Bengals’ goal line stand to end the first half. The Bengals had their opportunities, but fell short to the first-place Cardinals.

Boyes expressed remorse regarding the late decision to go for the touchdown instead of the field goal and looked at the positives despite a tough loss.

“I’m going to take the blame for that call. I’ll take the blame for that one,” Boyes said. “We had a lot of opportunities and didn’t take advantage of some, but we played extremely well today and our level (of play) is where it needs to be. It’s hard to take any loss, but I can take this loss we were beat by a very good football team.”

With two games left to play in the season, Buffalo State will need to qualify for an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament.

“The only thing we can control is our play; all of the other things are out of our control,” Boyes said. “We have to bring this intensity into every game for the rest of the season and we’ll go from there.”


The Bengals finish up their home schedule this Saturday with a matchup against Hartwick.


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