Bengals win third straight I-90 Bowl, earn ECAC Bushnell Bowl appearance


Dave DeLuca/The Record

Sophomore running back Dale Stewart led the Bengals to a 35-28 I-90 Bowl victory on Saturday, rushing 28 times for 155 yards and two touchdowns.

Anthony Reyes, Opinion Editor


For the Buffalo State football team, its season consisted of 10 games and 1,300 plays. Saturday at Coyer Field marked the final game of a regular season that was full of ups and downs, but on that day, nothing was more important than play number 1,300.

After a back-and-forth game between Buffalo State and Brockport, the Golden Eagles lined up at the Bengals’ 20-yard line, trailing 35-28 with two seconds to go.

With the Bengals’ postseason hopes on the line, Brockport quarterback Wayne Bonsell dropped back and looked deep into the end zone hoping for a game-tying score. What he got instead was a game-ending interception from Bengals defensive back Nick Anderson that sealed the 35-28 win for Buffalo State and kept their postseason hopes alive.

“I just knew it was for my team and I needed to get up there,” Anderson said. “I saw the dude behind me and I just saw the ball coming. Time went in slow motion. I saw it in the air. I’m taught to knock it down, but there is no way I’m knocking that down, I’m making a big play for my team, and I did and we came out victorious. Amazing.”

The game started off slow, but escalated to a roaring finish.

A 9-yard rushing touchdown from Golden Eagles running back Dan Andrews gave Brockport the 7-0 lead late in the first quarter. After the touchdown, the Bengals answered right back.

Capitalizing on two Brockport personal foul penalties, the Bengals took the ball 57 yards in 14 plays and chewed up more than seven minutes of the clock. Buffalo State running back Dale Stewart capped the drive off with 1-yard rush to tie the game at 7.

But a little over two minutes later, Brockport would retake the lead. Bonsell handed the ball off to Andrews who ran right, hit the brakes and found wide receiver Ian Gilhousen streaking down the near sideline. Andrews hit Gilhousen in stride and he took it 50 yards to the house to give Brockport the lead once again, 14-7.

It was punch and then counter-punch, as once again Buffalo State had an answer for a quick Brockport touchdown: yet another time-consuming drive to tie the game.

The Bengals went 73 yards in 11 plays and took up more than five minutes to knot it back up. Buffalo State capitalized on a huge catch from wide receiver Isaiah Clarke on fourth and 18 and finished the drive off yet again with a 1-yard Stewart rushing touchdown. The Bengals left just 14 seconds on the clock before halftime. Brockport received the ball and took a knee, and the teams headed to the locker rooms tied at 14.

“That was a huge turning point in the game,” Buffalo State quarterback Dan Serignese said of Clarke’s catch. “Without that play, we’re going into halftime probably 14-7. That just changed the whole game, momentum and everything.”

That momentum was carried into the second half. The Bengals went 35 yards in 10 plays to take their first lead of the game, 21-14. The drive was capped off by a 3-yard touchdown from junior running back Tre Jones.

After back-to-back punts by the Golden Eagles, the Bengals’ quick-strike offense showed up and Serignese found wide receiver Stephen Johnson deep down the sideline for a 66-yard touchdown to increase their lead to 28-14 with less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Brockport brought the game back to within a touchdown, and then the Bengals increased their lead to two touchdowns again right away.

But with about five minutes to go, the Golden Eagles brought themselves back within a touchdown, marking a crucial upcoming drive for the Bengals.

The drive, which got all the way down to them Golden Eagles’ 3-yard line, ultimately ended in a missed 20-yard field goal by kicker Robby Kuhnle. Kuhnle, who is a goalie on the soccer team, was recruited to play because kicker Marc Montana went down with an Achilles injury. The missed field goal meant the Bengals missed their chance to close the game out.

“He was very disappointed,” Buffalo State head coach Jerry Boyes said of Kuhnle. “But I told him, really before even going out there, kind of tough to put him in that position. Make it or not, no problem there, although I said, ‘It’d be nice if you made it’.”

Brockport took over with 1:37 remaining in the game and just a single timeout. It worked its way down to its own 44-yard line, and then Bonsell tossed one up to wide receiver Jerry Thompson. Buffalo State defensive back Rey Jordan cut in front of him and seemed to have the interception until the ball bounced off of him and into the hands of Thompson. It was Brockport’s ball at the Bengals’ 20-yard line with two seconds to go.

The players were on the edge of the sidelines and the fans were on their feet when Bonsell dropped back he looked deep to the far corner of the end zone. Anderson was there waiting, he timed his leap and came down with the interception as the fans erupted.

“I was just like, ‘We won the I-90 bowl!’” Anderson said. “I see my whole team running at me, it was surreal really, I never experienced anything like that before, it was amazing.”

The Bengals were lead on offense by Serignese and Stewart. Serignese finished 18 of 25 passing for 266 yards and two touchdowns while Stewart had 28 carries for 158 yards and two touchdowns of his own. Fellow running back Jones chipped in 71 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.

They were led on defense by the efforts of senior linebackers Marquis Artis, Shaq Frederick and John Alessandra who finished with a combined 26 tackles, nearly half of the teams total of 61.

The win marked their third consecutive I-90 Bowl win and it also marked their second straight 7-3 (5-3 Empire 8) season.

“At some point in time, we will look back, with some regrets unfortunately,” Boyes said. “With the could’ves and should’ves, if we had taken care of business in any one of those three games, but hopefully we learned some of the lessons that, quite frankly, I was hoping that we had learned from the previous season.”

Although it seemed like a bittersweet moment for Boyes and his team, he expressed that he was extremely proud of the way his players battled and persevered.

The Bengals will miss out on the NCAA playoffs, but the Eastern College Athletic Conference has awarded the Bengals a berth in the Asa S. Bushnell Bowl Championship. This will be the second straight ECAC Bowl appearance for Buffalo State.

The Bengals are undefeated in their previous four ECAC Bowl games. They will head to Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Conn. to take on Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute this Saturday at 5 p.m.

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