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Cortland visits Union in new bowl game

New York Bowl

Photo provided by Rich Barnes

Cortland defensive back Dezmund Hunter(20) intercepts a pass in the end zone during an October 14 win over Alfred University. Alfred was tied with Cortland in the Empire 8 regular season standings, but Cortland's win will allow them to play in the New York Bowl.

The SUNY Cortland football team will represent the Empire 8 conference in the inaugural New York Bowl on Saturday, when the Red Dragons play at Liberty League member Union College in Schenectady starting at noon.

The New York Bowl pits the top non- NCAA qualifying schools from the Empire 8 and Liberty League. Cortland tied for second in the Empire 8 with Alfred, and the Red Dragons defeated the Saxons during the regular season. Union tied for third in the Liberty League with Hobart and defeated the Statesmen. Ithaca tied for first but did not earn an NCAA berth, but the Bombers are competing in an ECAC bowl game instead of the New York Bowl.

Cortland is no longer a member of the ECAC, so the football team is not eligible for its bowl games.

Cortland, led by 21st-year head coach Dan MacNeill, finished the regular season with an overall record of 6-4 (5-2 Empire 8). The Red Dragons will be making their 21st postseason appearance. Cortland has qualified for the NCAA playoffs nine times and has played in 11 ECAC bowl games. The Red Dragons were an ECAC qualifier last year, and in 2015 they won the Empire 8 title and advanced to the NCAA second round.

Union (7-3, 3-2 Liberty League) has enjoyed a recent resurgence behind second-year head coach Jeff Behrman. Inheriting a program that finished 0-10 in 2015, Behrman led the Dutchmen to three wins last fall and their 7-3 mark this season. Union is making its 19th postseason appearance (11 NCAA, seven ECAC).

Cortland and Union have met twice previously, both in the postseason. Union defeated Cortland at home, 42-14, in the first round of the 1989 NCAA tournament on its way to the Stagg Bowl. Cortland defeated Union, 23-7, in Cortland in the 2007 ECAC Northeast Bowl.

Cortland is led offensively by quarterback Steven Ferreira, who has completed 178-of-306 passes (58.2 percent) for 2,335 yards and 20 touchdowns with seven interceptions. He has also rushed for three scores. Ferreira is Cortland’s career leader with 6,039 passing yards, and his 53 career TD passes are one shy of Dan Pitcher’s school record 54 from 2008-11. Ferreira ran for two scores in Cortland’s 48-20 Cortaca Jug loss at Ithaca last week, but failed to throw a TD pass for the first time this fall.

Johnnie Akins has rushed for 609 yards and seven touchdowns in eight games, but missed last week’s game due to injury. Nick Anderson has caught 39 passes for 527 yards and seven touchdowns and Alex Wasserman has 36 receptions for 602 yards and four scores.

Linebacker Mark DeLuise leads the Red Dragons with 90 tackles, seven for loss, and three interceptions. Kyle Richard has recorded 64 tackles in nine games, and Isaac Hicks has 63 tackles, three interceptions and two pass breakups. William Holscher is 35-of-36 on PAT kicks, with his first miss coming last week, and he’s 9-of-11 on field goal attempts. Nick Mongelli averages 38.4 yards per punt, with nine kicks inside the 20-yard line compared to three touchbacks.

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