Strong Second Half Leads Cortland Past Brockport, 31-10
CORTLAND, N.Y. – Cortland scored the game's final 31 points, 28 in the second half, and the nationally ranked Red Dragons remained unbeaten with a 31-10 win over visiting Brockport in Empire 8 action.
Cortland, which improved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in league play, is ranked 18th nationally in Division III by the AFCA and 19th by D3football.com. The Red Dragons earned their first victory over Brockport since 2015. The Golden Eagles, Empire 8 champs three straight years from 2017-19, dropped to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the conference.
Brockport led 10-0 and kept Cortland off the scoreboard for most of the first half. The Golden Eagles drove 75 yards on the game's first series, capped by Jala Coad's 4-yard TD run, to take a 7-0 lead, and Nate Wigent hit a 30-yard field goal with 3:01 left in the second quarter to extend the guests' lead.
Cortland, which entered the game averaging more than 50 points per game, had its first three series end with an interception and two punts. Following Wigent's field goal, the Red Dragons began a drive on their own 16-yard line. The Red Dragons converted a pair of third downs on a Derek Cruz (Oceanside) 7-yard catch and a 16-yard run by quarterback Brees Segala (Webster/Webster Schroeder), then picked up 15 yards on a pass interference penalty and 33 yards on a deep pass from Segala to Cruz to set up first and goal at the Brockport 6-yard line. Following three incomplete passes, one of which was almost picked off in the end zone, the Red Dragons settled for a Nick Guglielmo (Staten Island/St. Peter's) 23-yard field goal with 23 seconds left and Cortland trailed 10-3 at halftime.
The Red Dragons shifted their offensive approach on the first possession of the third quarter to feature more planned rushes by Segala. He gained 18 yards on four runs during the drive, then on a 3rd-and-13 play, following a false start penalty, he scrambled before finding Ky'Sawn Veale (Norwich) wide open behind the secondary for a 45-yard touchdown pass that tied the game at 10-10.
Brockport had to start its next possession on its own 5-yard line after a combination of having to fall on the ball at the 10-yard line along with an illegal formation penalty. On third down, pressure by linebacker Justin Wheeler (Binghamton/Susquehanna Valley) forced Brockport to underthrow a pass that Mark Noel (Staten Island/Port Richmond) intercepted at the Golden Eagles' 32-yard line, and he raced to the end zone untouched to give Cortland 17-10 lead. Cortland leads Division III nationally this season with five defensive touchdowns.
Brockport responded by marching on its next drive from its own 30-yard line to the Cortland 6-yard line with the help of three third-down conversions. The Golden Eagles were stopped for a 1-yard rushing loss on 3rd-and-2, and after electing to go for it on fourth down, a fourth down completion was stopped for no gain on a tackle by Joshua Cordero (Monroe/Monroe-Woodbury).
The hosts picked up a key insurance score early in the fourth quarter. Devin Smith (Utica/Utica Notre Dame) deflected a pass at the line of scrimmage and Wheeler made a diving interception to give Cortland the ball on the Brockport 27-yard line with 11:07 remaining. On the next play, Segala lofted a pass down the right sideline and Trevor Ash (Auburn) outleaped a defender just in front of the front right pylon, made the catch despite being interfered with, and fell into the end zone for a score and a 24-10 lead.
The Red Dragons finished the scoring on a Jaden Alfanostjohn (Westhampton/Westhampton Beach) 18-yard TD run with 7:07 remaining. The score was set up by a 30-yard completion from Segala to JJ Laap (Stony Brook/Ward Melville), combined with a 15-yard face mask penalty during the play, that moved the ball to the Golden Eagles' 17-yard line.
Segala finished 16-of-30 passing for 184 yards and two scores and ran 14 times for 67 yards. Cruz caught six passes for 57 yards, while Alfanostjohn had four receptions for 16 yards in addition to rushing for 48 yards on nine carries in his first start at tailback.
Three Red Dragons – Stone Murray (Latham/Shaker), Dylan Dubuque (East Greenbush/Columbia) and Christian Legagneur (Brentwood/St. John the Baptist) – each finished with 11 tackles. Murray also had two pass breakups. Wheeler ended with nine tackles and an interception, and defensive end Nick Lardaro (Smithtown/Smithtown East) recorded three tackles for lost yardage. Liam Casey (Woodstown, NJ) averaged 42.8 yards per punt, including a 62-yard effort.
Brockport's Rashad Law ran 14 times for 84 yards and Coad finished with 80 yards on 26 carries. Jack Cheshire was 16-of-33 through the air for 142 yards, with Imhotep Cromer and Derrick Chance each grabbing five passes. Andrew Covais led the Golden Eagles with nine tackles and Raylens Boutin had seven tackles and two pass breakups. Alaan Montgomery registered his team-high fourth interception of the season during Cortland's opening possession.
Brockport held a slight 305-292 edge in total offense, but Cortland gained 5.2 yards per play compared to the Golden Eagles' 4.1 yards-per-play average. Brockport entered the game ranked third nationally in Division III in total defense (162.5 yards/game), including first in rushing defense (21.2 yards/game), while Cortland ranked sixth in total defense (183.5 yards/game), including 10th in rushing defense (46.8 yards/game). Brockport finished with 163 yards rushing and 142 passing, while Cortland had 108 rushing and 184 passing.
Cortland travels to Hartwick next Saturday for a 1 p.m. Empire 8 contest.