Johnnie Akins rushed for 218 yards and William Holscher kicked what held up as the winning 25-yard field goal with 6:14 remaining Saturday as the SUNY Cortland football team opened Empire 8 play with a 31-30 victory over visiting Hartwick.
Cortland improved to 2-1 overall, while Hartwick fell to 1-2 overall. The Hawks’ two losses have each been by one point.
Akins carried the ball 25 times for his 218 yards to average 8.7 yards per attempt. His performance is the seventh-highest rushing total in school history, and he’s the first Cortland player to reach the 200-yard rushing mark in a game since quarterback Tyler Hughes ran for 203 yards versus William Paterson in 2013.
The teams combined for 884 yards of total offense — 452 by Cortland and 432 by Hartwick. The Red Dragons ran for 314 yards and passed for 138, while the Hawks threw for 269 yards and ran for 163.
Cortland quarterback Steven Ferreira completed 14 of 20 passes for 138 yards and two scores and ran 19 times for 86 net yards, while Alex Wasserman and Josh Ramirez each registered first-half TD catches.
Hartwick quarterback Billy Pine was 17-of-35 through the air for 269 yards and three touchdowns and Tito Pichardo ran 19 times for 143 yards and a score. Koree Reed caught four passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns and Brad Garcia caught six passes for 80 yards and one score.
The game featured nine lead changes as the squads alternated scores over the final three quarters. Hartwick led 27-21 on Pine’s 20-yard TD pass to Garcia with one second left before halftime. Cortland regained the lead at 28-27 on Zach Tripodi’s second one-yard TD run of the game with 8:10 left in the third.
Cortland looked to extend the lead on its next possession when Akins broke free for an apparent TD run on 4th-and-1 from midfield, but David Van Alstine was able to catch him from behind and force a fumble near the 10-yard line. The ball went through the end zone for a touchback. The Hawks re-took the lead on their next possession when Brian McGovern hit a 36-yard field goal with 11:20 remaining in the fourth.
Cortland answered with a 12-play, 59-yard drive. The Red Dragons converted on 4th-and-8 at the Hartwick 31-yard line when Ferreira found Angelo Foster on a 14-yard completion. The drive eventually stalled at the Hartwick 8-yard-line and Holscher hit his field goal to put Cortland ahead for good.
Hartwick’s ensuing drive was stopped on a Taj Anderson interception at the Cortland 31-yard-line with 4:27 left. Hartwick forced a Cortland punt and got the ball back with 2:14 left, but turned the ball over on downs with 1:08 left. Cortland sealed the win when Ferreira ran three yards for a first down on 4th-and-2 at the Hawks’ 31-yard-line with less than 50 seconds left.
The difference in the score proved to be a blocked extra point by Dan Appley after Hartwick’s first TD early in the first quarter.
Isaac Hicks led Cortland’s defense with eight tackles, all solo, and an interception. Brandon Lewis recorded six tackles and D’monte Woody broke up two passes. Josh Wilcox paced Hartwick with 10 tackles, all solo, and Nick Richard made eight stops.
Cortland is off next week and will host Brockport on Sept. 30 at 2 p.m.