Steven Ferreira threw four first-half touchdown passes and Devin Smith scored what proved to be the winning points on a strange fumble recovery Saturday as the SUNY Cortland football team defeated host Union College 35-28 to win the inaugural New York Bowl.
The game pitted top non-NCAA qualifying teams from both the Empire 8, Cortland’s conference, and the Liberty League. Both teams finished the season with 7-4 records. Cortland was making its third straight postseason appearance and 21st overall.
Ferreira completed 13-of- 21 passes for 232 yards and four scores with no interceptions, and he led Cortland on the ground with 70 yards on 14 rushes. Ferreira finishes as Cortland’s career leader with 456 completions, 6,271 passing yards, 57 TD passes, and 6,917 yards of total offense. Dick Puccio completed 451 passes from 1988-91, Dan Pitcher threw 54 TD passes from 2008-11, and J.J.Tutwiler complied 6,007 passing yards and 6,598 yards of total offense from 2000-03.
Union led 7-0 after driving 50 yards on the game’s opening possession following a Griffin Beal 41-yard kickoff return. Connor Kinzelmann scored on a 21-yard run to give the Dutchmen the lead with just 1:57 elapsed.
Cortland, however, scored four straight touchdowns to take a 28-7 halftime lead. Ferreira connected with Nick Anderson for a 20-yard TD pass on Cortland’s first possession, and later in the quarter capped a 70-yard drive with a 22-yard scoring pass to Dakym Davis. Union appeared poised to tie the game early in the second quarter with a 2nd-and-goal situation at the Cortland 1-yard line. Kinzelmann, however, was stopped short of the end zone on three attempts to preserve the Cortland lead.
Cortland then drove 98 yards on nine plays for a touchdown and a 21-7 lead. Ferreira concluded the drive with a 24-yard pass to tight end Dave Stegemann for the latter’s first career touchdown. Union’s next drive ended when Max Jean intercepted a pass in the end zone, and it took the Red Dragons only six plays to drive for another score. The final 27 came on Anderson’s second TD catch of the day, and Cortland led 28-7 with 1:44 left before halftime.
The tide turned in Union’s favor in the second half. Union’s first drive of the half was kept alive by a fourth-down pass interference call in Union territory, and later in the series Union quarterback Nick Cascione completed a 22-yard pass to Alex Kaplanovich, followed by a 20-yard TD pass to Beal, and the Dutchmen were within two scores.
Cortland struggled offensively in the third quarter, but found itself with great field position when Hicks intercepted a pass early in the fourth. He returned the ball 16 yards to the Union 26- yard line, with an unsportsmanlike conduct call pushing the ball to the 13.
After three rushes netted nine yards, Cortland elected to attempt a 20-yard field goal on 4thand- 1 at the Union 4-yard line. Jack Reilly blocked the kick and recovered the ball near the line of scrimmage. Reilly, however, fumbled the ball during his return attempt, with Smith recovering for a 4-yard return touchdown to put the Red Dragons up 35-14 with 10:40 remaining.
Union scored the game’s last two TDs as Cascione threw a 4-yard TD pass to Kaplanovich and later ran in from four yards out TD runto account for the final margin.
Cascione finished 26-of-54 passing for 333 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for a TD, but was intercepted twice and sacked seven times. He passed for 202 yards in the second half. Beal caught 13 passes for 201 yards and a score and Kinzelmann ran 25 times for 101 yards and one TD.
Ferreira completed just one pass for five yards in the second half after going 12-of-16 for 227 yards and the four touchdowns over the first 30 minutes. Anderson finished with four catches for 61 yards and two scores, Wasserman caught four passes for 95 yards, and Johnnie Akins ran 18 times for 59 yards. Mongelli averaged 42 yards per punt on four kicks.
Union finished with a 440-390 advantage in total offense, although Cortland outrushed Union 158-107 on 40 attempts each.