Football falls short against No. 14 Fisher,28-24


Dave DeLuca/The Record

Junior running back Dale Steward rushed for 53 yards and a touchdown on Saturday.

Tony Callens, Associate Sports Editor

St. John Fisher scored on the first play of the game and Buffalo State scored on their first drive in a back-and-forth offensive battle at Crowney Stadium on Saturday.

Buffalo State came up just short as the Division III ranked No. 14 Cardinals won their homecoming game, 28-24.

Senior quarterback Kyle Hoppy made the start for the Bengals in his first action since breaking his jaw in week one against Otterbein.

“It felt great to get back out there and get comfortable again,” Hoppy said. “We had a lot of good things going and the guys gave it everything they had. We just came up short.”

Hoppy completed 23 of 48 passes for 287 yards but also threw three interceptions.

“It’s heartbreaking, because we worked so hard. We worked our behinds off this offseason and it’s just disappointing. I don’t know what else I can say,” senior running back Tre Jones said.

This season has been The Dale Stewart Show. The junior running back has lead the team with 423 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. He tallied one on Saturday, but this game, Jones did the most damage. He rushed for 85 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.

Buffalo State head coach Jerry Boyes proved he’s willing to ride the hot hand at running back.

“That is part of it. In this game, for whatever reason, Tre (Jones) was making things happen north-south,” he said.

Buffalo State took their first lead of the game when Jones ran a sweep 10 yards into the end zone, capping off a 10-play, 77-yard drive. The Cardinals responded back with a touchdown of their own to level the score at 14-14 in the second quarter.

The Bengals had no trouble moving the ball, but the three turnovers came at costly times.

Coming out of halftime with a 17-14 lead, Buffalo State started with the ball on the St. John Fisher 40-yard line. In prime position to take a 10-point lead, Hoppy took a shot downfield and was intercepted by defensive back Alec Mortillaro.

The Cardinals capped the following possession off with a 35-yard pass to tight end Wyatt Stehle to take a 21-17 lead.

Buffalo State fought back and came up with a response on a 10-play drive that included a 21-yard Stephen Johnson catch in traffic. Jones finished the drive off with an 8-yard score.

St. John Fisher showed why they’re the No. 14 team in the country on the following drive that finished off with a 17-yard score by running back Chris Smith that ended up being a game-winner.

The Bengals had two chances to answer, but were unable to capitalize. The first opportunity ended on downs at the Cardinal 40-yard line.

“Our third quarter, a little bit of ineffectiveness was a bit of our downfall. Unfortunately, that key fourth down play turned out to be the difference, wasn’t it? So that was disappointing,” Boyes said.

Buffalo State’s defense forced a punt and the offense had one last shot to win the game with 56 seconds to play.

The offense drove 50 yards to the St. John Fisher 40-yard line once again, but the game was settled when defensive back DJ Logort came down with an interception.

“I feel it was a game that we should have won. I think our kids laid it all out on the line,” Boyes said. “I think they played extremely hard and well. We had opportunities but we didn’t quite finish, and finish is the key word in football.”

Despite the disappointing outcome, the team was solid on both sides of the ball. Turnovers were the deciding factor.

Offensively, the Bengals outgained the Cardinals 472 to 368.

“We have very good confidence in our receivers,” Jones said. “We have some ballers at the receiver spot. They can catch the ball and make plays after the catch, and then why not also attack with the run? We have three great running backs.”

Hoppy also found some positive things to take away from the loss.

“I don’t think we have to make many changes. We just have to clean up mistakes,” he said. “The guys gave it everything they had today. We played a really good team this week. If we change a few things, the result could have been different, so just stay the course.”

The Bengals fall to 2-2 on the year while St. John Fisher improves to 5-0. Buffalo State will head to Cortland next week, a team they’ve beaten in close games the past two seasons.

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