MORRISVILLE – Zach Tripodi ran for a career-high 165 yards and three touchdowns, including an 18-yard score to seal the victory with less than four minutes remaining, as nationally 22nd-ranked Cortland remained unbeaten with a 42-28 victory at Empire 8 foe Morrisville State.
Cortland improved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the conference. Morrisville is now 2-4 overall and 0-2 in the league.
Tripodi averaged 4.9 yards per rush on 34 carries and surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark for the fourth straight game. Brett Segala completed 21-of-33 passes for 232 yards and a score. Jason Carlock caught eight passes for 101 yards and a touchdown and Cole Burgess had five receptions for 82 yards.
Gregory Alfieri led Cortland’s defense with 11 tackles, including a sack, and a pass breakup. Marc Anthony Dalce added eight tackles, followed by Dylan Dubuque with seven. Devin Smith forced a crucial fumble on a strip sack that Cortland recovered with less than six minutes left and the Red Dragons clinging to a six-point lead.
Nick Mongelli made both of his field goal attempts, from 32 and 25 yards, as well as all four of his PAT kicks. Liam Casey averaged 45 yards on three punts, and his 68-yard punt in the second quarter was the longest by a Red Dragon since Scott Harrison’s 71-yard punt at Ithaca in 1999.
Morrisville quarterback Bill Flatow completed 27-of-43 passes for 383 yards and two touchdowns. He connected with Jermaine Cooper eight times for 223 yards and two scores. Kyle Tuohy and Kinsey Williams caught six passes apiece and Toure’ Hall had five receptions. Williams also led the Mustangs with 79 yards on 20 rushes. Ernesto Mitchell and Mike Bodnar led the hosts with 15 and 13 tackles, respectively.
The teams combined for 909 yards of total offense – 462 by Cortland (232 passing, 230 rushing) and 447 by Morrisville (383 passing, 64 rushing).
Six of the game’s first seven series resulted in points. Cortland’s opening drive led to a Mongelli 32-yard eld goal and Morrisville answered with a four-play, 62-yard drive capped by Cooper’s 34-yard TD reception to take a 7-3 lead. The Red Dragons drove 64 yards, finished by a 2-yard Tripodi TD run, but the hosts went up 14-10 later in the first on a Williams 10-yard scoring run to close a 67-yard drive.
Cortland answered when Tai-Sean Dodd capped a 64-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run early in the second. It appeared that Morrisville was going to respond again when Hall returned the ensuing kickoff 36 yards to the Cortland 46-yard line and a pass interference call and a short catch moved the ball to the 22. On the next play Tuohy caught a pass on the right side of the field and appeared to be going in to score, but he lost the ball just before crossing the goal line and the ball went out of the end zone for a touchback.
Cortland took advantage with a 10-play, 80-yard TD drive. Tripodi carried the ball six times during the drive, including 11-yard and 8-yard runs on the final two plays and Cortland led 24-14 at halftime.
Each team scored a touchdown on its first possession of the second half – Morrisville on a Williams 3-yard run and Cortland on a 14-yard pass from Segala to Carlock on 3rd-and-13. Down by 10, Morrisville drove to the Cortland 7-yard line on its next series but Alfieri tackled Flatow one yard short of a first down on 4th-and-2.
Cortland moved the ball 86 yards, including a 35-yard catch by Carlock, but eventually settled for a Mongelli 25- yard field goal and the Red Dragons led 34-21 with 12:30 remaining. Morrisville faced 3rd-and-10 on its own 48-yard line on its next series when Flatow hit Cooper for a 43-yard gain, and the connected again for nine yards and a score to make it 34-28 with 9:19 left.
Cortland turned the ball over on downs at the Morrisville 42- yard line with 6:14 left when Mitchell stopped Tripodi for no gain on a 4th-and-1 play. Three plays later, however, on 3rd and 9, Smith stripped the ball from Flatow in the pocket and J.J. Pasqualone recovered the ball at the Morrisville 40-yard line.
An unsportsmanlike conduct call against the Mustangs pushed Cortland’s drive start to the 25, and Tripodi strung together runs of six, one and 18 yards, the last of which hit paydirt with 3:51 left. Segala’s two-point conversion pass to Carlock increased the lead to 42-28. Morrisville gained 45 yards before turning the ball over on downs with 2:34 left, and its final drive netted just 28 yards before time expired.
Cortland will host Alfred University next Saturday at 1 p.m.