CORTLAND — Having to defend the Oneida Indians’ single wing offense — and the amount of pre-snap motion that comes with it — with only 16 healthy players was going to be a tall task for the Cortland Purple Tigers.
In the end, Oneida’s rushers were too much to handle — sometimes literally — as they cruised to a 29-0 shutout of the Purple Tigers Friday night at Moiseichik Field.
Oneida was led by running back Braedon Williams (96 rushing yards, 69 return yards, two rushing touchdowns) and quarterback Bryson Carinci (103 rushing yards, 55 passing yards, one rushing touchdown, one passing touchdown). They used their size advantage to power through would-be Cortland tacklers and break off big chunks of yardage, including Carinci’s rush of 43 yards on 3rd and 13 from midfield in the first quarter and a 32-yard touchdown rush up the middle in the fourth quarter.
“A lot of guys who are sophomores are on the field for us because we’ve got a ton of injuries,” Purple Tigers head coach Pete Reif said. “This was their first varsity action, and the single wing offense, where you’re doing a ton of misdirection, it’s tough to prepare against.”
Williams scored both of his touchdowns in the first half, one from 2 yards out and one from 9 yards out. In between his and Carinci’s touchdown rushes, Carinci found Ryan Wuest for a 51-yard touchdown strike with 49 seconds left in the first half to put the Indians up 22-0.
The Indians didn’t play flawless football, however. The Purple Tigers actually had a plus-2 turnover differential. The teams exchanged turnovers on three consecutive possessions in the third quarter, starting with a bad Oneida snap on a would-be punt that lost 23 yards and gave the Purple Tigers the ball at the Oneida 28 with the chance to make it a two-possession game.
On the first play of the ensuing drive, a bad handoff gave the Indians the ball back at their own 30, but five plays later, Jack Waldbauer recovered an Oneida fumble to give the Purple Tigers possession at the Oneida 43.
While the Purple Tigers were unable to make anything out of the ensuing drive, they forced one more turnover for good measure as Ryan Kline intercepted Carinci on a dying quail of a pass with a minute left in the third.
The Purple Tigers were unable to get much going offensively all game. They went three-and-out five times, including on each of their first three possessions, and punted six times overall. But one offensive bright spot was running back Luke Darling, who led the Purple Tigers with 54 rushing yards on 12 carries, including the Tigers’ longest play from scrimmage, a 15-yard rush on the final drive of the first half.
The Purple Tigers (0-1) are on the road at 6 p.m. Friday against New Hartford. Reif said there would be some help waiting in the wings for that game.
“The good thing is we do get four guys back next week,” Reif said. “That’s really going to help out the depth chart. It’s going to let guys learn one position instead of two. This week we ended up having multiple guys having to switch positions and learn that position for the first time. What we’ll focus on is getting a little bit better every practice. Do whatever you can to improve.”