Buffalo State shut out for first time since ’09

Andrew David Kuczkowski, Sports Editor

The Buffalo State Bengals (5-4, 3-4 in Empire 8) have been a confusing  inconsistent team. One week, the Bengals put up 50 on the scoreboard, only to put up an egg the next week. Buffalo State failed to score single a point in Saturday’s matchup against Ithaca, which ended 7-0, following a week where they put up 51.

The offense has been inconsistent throughout the 2016 ride. Inconsistent quarterbacking in both play and player. Diverse playing schemes each week with Buffalo State being a run-heavy or pass-heavy team on any given Saturday.

Buffalo State’s focus was on the option run play. The first half was stagnant as the Bengals struggled to get first downs.

The Bengals’ first opportunity to score came in the third quarter on the legs of Tre Jones with the threat of Hoppy keeping it. The senior running back, who rushed 16 times for 72 yards, had the reigns on the drive. Jones had runs of eight, eight, 24, six, two and negative two yards. The team was down 7-0 at the time and the drive looked like it had the potential to equal the score.

“I was like, alright, we have to score. We have to score on that drive,” Jones said. “I honestly felt like if we scored we would have won that game. It would have brought our offense confidence.”

It was the only bright spot for the offense on the game. Things didn’t end well for the Bengals. The drive ended on a fourth-and-5 scramble by quarterback Kyle Hoppy. He passed the first down line, but fumbled the ball away.

Ithaca’s lone score was an 8-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Wolfgang Shafer to wide out Will Gladney, making the score 7-0 with 5:34 left in the first. The score was set up by a punt return by the Bombers’ Jordan Schemm to the Buffalo 12-yard line.

For Hoppy, the day wasn’t much easier as he was hit often. The Bengals’ first two drives ended in first-down sacks. The offensive line, which sports five new starters from the past year, faced pressure and looked leaky all game.

Buffalo State head coach Jerry Boyes noted that the team’s struggles were not due solely to its youth in the O-line, but execution.

“It’s amazing in football that detail means everything,” Boyes said. “You have to have all 11 guys doing their job. If they do, you’re going to be successful on this play. But we had three plays in particular that, frankly, it was a race to the end zone if we had executed it correctly. And I feel we would have won the race all three times.

“So it is disappointing that we made those mental errors. Not physical errors, those were mental errors.”

Hoppy threw 9 of 18 for 102 yards and one lost fumble. It was his lowest total attempts this season and his second-lowest in passing yards as he threw for only 58 just two weeks ago. In contrast to last week’s 20 of 33, 328 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, fans and spectators could ask why, or how, does this happen?

“The main thing you want to look at is how many plays we had throughout the game,” Hoppy said. “I think we had around 50 plays. On days where we had that success, we run about 80 to 90 plays. That’s two different things: the execution on our part.

“We couldn’t make any third or fourth downs when we needed to. And it was Ithaca’s part (for) staying on the field. It was those two things there.”

Buffalo State moves on to play away at Brockport for the I-190 bowl on Nov. 12. The game will begin at around 1 p.m.

“I feel like if we have a good week of practice this week – which I’ll definitely try my hardest to get everyone to have – we are definitely going to come out with a win,” Jones added.

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