Buffalo State’s passing attack lights up Red Dragons in 39-21 win


Dave DeLuca/The Record

Senior quarterback Kyle Hoppy passed for a career-high 434 yards and scored all five Bengal touchdowns (three passing, two rushing) on Saturday.

Dan Almasi, Managing Editor

Career days from senior quarterback Kyle Hoppy and senior wide receiver Madison Wesolowski led the Bengals to a 39-21 thrashing of the Cortland Red Dragons in Cortland on Saturday.

The team’s leading rusher Dale Stewart went down, but the passing offense came up big as Hoppy passed for a career-high 434 yards and Wesolowski hauled in a career-high 11 catches for 175 yards. Junior wideout Stephen Johnson posted six catches for 114 and a score. Defensive tackle Billy Carroll made several impact plays, recording two sacks, an interception and four tackles. The Bengals improved to 3-2 (2-2 E8) with their fifth straight win over division rival Cortland.


After missing nearly all of the 2015 season and weeks two and three this season, Hoppy looked poised and ready to lead the Bengals to a promising finish to the 2016 season. He added 39 yards on the ground and accounted for all five Buffalo State scores — three passing and two rushing. He threw no interceptions and was not sacked while making several key plays under pressure. His second-best passing performances were 335-yard games in 2014’s ECAC Southwestern Bowl win over Waynesburg State and in 2014’s season-opener against Cortland.


Buffalo State’s passing offense was left in the closet for most of last season after Hoppy went down. Today’s was the first contest in which two receivers posted 100 yards since the final game of the 2014 season, a 55-21 win over Brockport, when All-Empire 8 receivers Mike Doherty and Ryan Carney both hit the 100-yard mark. After finishing 2015 as the conference’s top rushing offense, this game could signal a switch back to the team’s 2014 identity of a premiere passing attack.


Buffalo State scored on their first drive of the game and their first drive of the second half. To open up scoring, the Bengals executed an 11-play, 78-yard drive highlighted by a 29-yard Wesolowski grab and capped off by a 1-yard Hoppy touchdown run. After going into halftime up 17-14, Buffalo State pulled away quickly. A bad punt gave the Bengals the ball at the Cortland 42-yard line. It took just two plays — a 36-yard bomb hauled in by senior running back Tre Jones and a 6-yard touchdown strike to sophomore receiver Jordan Evert to put the Bengals up 23-14.


Stewart came into the game averaging the second-most rushing yards per game in the Empire 8 (101). He finished the day with five carries for 19 yards after limping off the field in the first quarter. If he misses any time, senior back Tre Jones is experienced and ready to carry the load. He gained 94 yards on 25 carries on Saturday and was the Empire 8’s third-leading rusher last season (824 yards).


Entering the contest, Cortland’s offense was 2nd in the conference, averaging 442 yards per game. Buffalo State held them to just 263 yards (164 passing, 99 rushing), and prompted a quarterback change to Ryan VanGalen in the third quarter after starter DeAngelo Walker completed just 7 of 19 attempts for two touchdowns and a pick. Carroll had a stellar performance, while junior defensive end Cliff Brown and senior defensive back Sekret Kukaj anchored the defense with eight tackles each.


Buffalo State played a sound game in two phases of the game — offense and defense. The special teams play, however, was poor. A 27-yard punt gave Cortland the ball at the Buffalo State 48-yard line, which led to a 43-yard Cortland touchdown strike three plays later with under two minutes to go in the first half. 7 points were left on the field by the kicking game: one field goal was blocked, another was stifled by a botched snap, and an extra point attempt that would have made it a two-score game was also blocked. Cortland also recovered  one of their own punts when it bounced off the back of a Buffalo State player. As the saying goes: all’s well that ends well.

Up next for Buffalo State is another away game at non-conference opponent Alfred State (0-6). Kickoff is Saturday, Oct. 15 at 1 p.m.