Second-half comeback pushes Buffalo State to upset win over No. 18 Cortland, 29-21


Dave DeLuca/The Record

Buffalo State’s defense sacked Cortland quarterback Steven Ferreira six times.

Andrew Kuczkowski, Staff Writer

The Buffalo State football team had a difficult time defending the passing game of the undefeated Cortland Red Dragons and also getting their own passing game going, but still overcame it with a strong turn around in the second half.

Buffalo State (3-2, 2-2_ held the Red Dragons scoreless in the second half, while scoring 20 points of their own, en route to handing No. 18 Cortland (5-1, 3-1) their first loss of the season, 29-21.

The Red Dragons opened the game with a bang. A missed tackle helped Cortland quarterback Steven Ferreira roll out of the pocket and hit wide receiver Jake Smith for a 77-yard catch-and-run touchdown just two minutes into the game.

The Bengals’ first possession ended in a punt, where Buffalo State pinned them at their own 1-yard line. The Red Dragons first play was handoff to a player in motion, but the Bengals contained him in the end zone for a safety which put Buffalo State on the board, 7-2 Cortland.

The Red Dragons’ next score came when Ferreira attacked the Bengals with another deep ball, which was completed to wide receiver Jon Mannix for a 39-yard touchdown and gave Cortland a 14-2 lead.

The back-and-forth offensive attack continued, as the Bengals drove down the field and capped off their drive with a 2-yard run for a touchdown by running back Dale Stewartthe score was now 14-9, Cortland.

With less than five minutes to go in the first halfFerreira scrambled out of the pocket attempting to get a first down on a third-and-12. He reached the ball out but it was punched out of his hands and Bengals recovered the fumble.

The passing game was inconsistent for the Bengals and the drive ended with an interception in the flat by Cortland defensive back Carson Lassiter, who returned it 59-yards for a touchdown. Cortland led 21-9 at halftime.

The first half, Cortland punished the Bengals’ secondary with Ferreria getting 216 yards through the air and a total of 241 yards on offense. While Bengals’ quarterback Aaron Ertel had a rough half completing 14-of 31 for 137 yards.

The second half started off strong for the Bengals, as they finished their opening drive with a short throw by Ertel that turned into a 23-yard catch-and-run for running back Joe Oca to get a touchdown and cut Cortland’s lead to 21-16.

Later on in the third quarter, after some big defensive plays from the Bengals defense, the offense got back in on the action. Stewart was handed the ball and broke two tackles and took it for an 84-yard touchdown, which gave the Bengals their first lead of the day, 22-21.

The Bengals did not take their foot off the pedal. The defense continued to stand tall and Ertel completed a 2-yard pass to receiver Stephen Johnson for the touchdown and their lead grew to 29-21, with only 7:21 left in the fourth quarter. 

Late in the fourth quarter Cortland had two attempts to tie the game up but the ball was turned over on downs each time.

Buffalo State hosts Finlandia next Saturday for the final leg of its three-game home stand. Finlandia (1-5) has struggled this season and didn’t score an offensive touchdown until its fourth game. It has surrendered 40 points or more in five of its six games, including getting routed by Wisconsin-Oshkosh, 86-0; Wisconsin-Whitewater, 66-3, and Wisconsin-Stevens Point, 77-6.