Football earns first bowl bid since 2000

AJ Speier/BSC-TV


Dave DeLuca/The Record

Senior running back Rich Pete ran for 72 yards and three touchdowns in Buffalo State’s win over Brockport.

Tony Callens, Staff Writer

Buffalo State and the Brockport are two schools in the SUNY system separated by 52 miles. To get from one to the other, one would travel along the New York thruway I-90. Put these two football programs in the same conference and have them play each other every year, and thus, a natural rivalry ensued and the I-90 bowl was born.

The 2014 edition of this contest was settled this past Saturday at Eunice Kennedy Shriver Stadium in Brockport in a game that had Buffalo State looking for its best record and first postseason bowl bid since 2000. With all that on the line, the Bengals emphatically delivered with a dominant 55-21 victory and came away with the I-90 trophy for the second year in a row.

The win also led to them receiving a bowl game. It was announced Monday that the Bengals will play in the postseason for the first time in 14 years when they travel to Waynesburg University to compete in the ECAC Southwest Bowl.

Buffalo State never trailed against Brockport and the offense exploded with 45 points in the first half and 537 total yards. It was a record-breaking day for the Bengals as several players reached milestones in the program.

Senior running back Rich Pete shined as he recorded his second consecutive 1,000 yard rushing season after his 72-yard day. His three touchdowns led the team and with that, he has now scored the most touchdowns in a career in school history with 42 in total, breaking the previous record that has stood since 1996.

On achieving the record Rich Pete was emotional.

“It actually means a lot, you know,” Pete said. “To have your name etched in history. It’s what people harp for, what people strive for.

“I actually didn’t know it until a few games ago that I was up there. I took a couple back seats where I just had to play my role where I didn’t score or have as many carries; it’s a team game and this was an opportunity and I had to take advantage.”

Head coach Jerry Boyes was happy with the result.

“The only thing, we talked about it all week, is just worrying about what we can control and that’s our play,” Boyes said. “Our guys did a tremendous job and I’m extremely proud of the way they played today and played last week even though we had a slow start. I liked some of the lessons that we had to take from those loses particularly early in the season you know, we learned something from that.”

For the first time this season, the coaching staff pulled out a two running back formation with Pete and sophomore Tre Jones that was hugely successful. It was obvious that Brockport was not ready for it as it yielded three touchdowns.

“We had that formation all season; this is just a time we decided to use it,” Pete said with a grin. “With me and Tre in the backfield, we’re both dual threats, we can both do it all and I’m pretty sure teams get terrified when they see both of us on the field at the same time.”

After the second touchdown he scored, Pete ran over to the I-90 trophy and kissed it. Fortunately, the officials didn’t see it.

“The I-90 bowl means a lot to me and a lot to us,” Pete said. “And the reason why I kissed it was that I got a penalty my freshman year when I did. I figured I had to go out the same way I came in.”

When asked what Coach Boyes’ reaction was, Pete was hesitant.

“He had a lot to say you know,” Pete said. “We’re not going get into that on camera, but he had some words for me.”

Marc Montana set a school record as well, breaking the single season record for field goals made with 10.

Sophomore quarterback Kyle hoppy posted his second 300-yard day of the season, going 13 of 22 for 324 yards and two touchdowns. It was a complete game from the team in every facet of the game, offense, defense and special teams.

The defense snatched three interceptions, from Will Cheshire, Marquis Artis and Shaq Fredrick. Fredrick, a junior linebacker, and Artis, a junior defensive back, led the team with 14 tackles each on the day.

The secondary had a big game and held the Golden Eagles leading receiver Andrew Mrozek to just one catch for 21 yards.

“We knew (Mrozek) was their big playmaker,” junior cornerback Sherman Nelson said. “So when we saw him lined up as a single receiver we made sure we had a safety over the top to cover the deep ball and the rest of the game we just played ball.”

Senior defensive tackle Tawone Williams had fun after the game taking over interviewing duties for the media along with his own interview.

“Going into this game, we felt like we had something to prove,” Williams said. “We lost some games we shouldn’t have lost, basically we wanted to keep that mentality and keep playing at a high level and we wound up on top.”

When Buffalo State takes on 8-2 Waynesburg at 1 p.m. Saturday it will be their fourth bowl game in school history and first since 2000, all of which they have been victorious in.

“It means a lot,” Boyes said. “It shows the growth of the program, because that’s one of the unwritten goals that we have is to make the playoffs. Unfortunately, that’s the way it is in athletics, you’re judged by your wins and it’s wide open for everyone to see; it’s an easy evaluation.

“When we first started out back in 1986, it was the first step — reach the ECAC game in 1991, and that led to a decade long of playoffs, so can this be that first step on our way to greater things? Only time will tell.”

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