December 2, 2021

Red Dragons beat Alfred for E8 title

SUNY Cortland Football

Matt Czeitner/sports reporter

The SUNY Cortland football team celebrates winning the Empire 8 championship with a banner and the trophy Saturday at SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex. The Red Dragons beat Alfred 47-3 for their first Empire 8 title since 2015.

CORTLAND — The SUNY Cortland football team clinched the Empire 8 title and an NCAA Division III tournament berth as they dominated visiting Alfred University in every fashion Saturday with a 47-3 victory.

The win improves the No. 16-ranked Red Dragons’ record to 8-0 overall and 5-0 against conference opponents with two games remaining. The tournament berth is also the first for Cortland since 2015.

“I am so happy for our players, especially our seniors,” Cortland head coach Curt Fitzpatrick said. “This was their dream to win the conference and get the chance to play in the NCAA playoffs and we accomplished it today.”

The Red Dragon offense finished with 483 total yards and scored a touchdown in all four quarters. Brees Segala completed 14 of 23 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns while also doing damage on the ground, running 10 times for 62 yards and a score. Jaden AlfanoStJohn added 17 carries for 87 yards and two touchdowns.

Derek Cruz was the favorite target for Segala, as he caught seven passes for 132 yards and a touchdown. JJ Laap caught a touchdown and backup quarterback Zac Boyes got some reps in the fourth quarter and ran for a touchdown.

Though the offense was a bright spot for the Red Dragons, the defense performed exceptionally well. Dylan Dubuque forced a fumble, which was recovered by Christian Legagneur. Dubuque also blocked a punt in the second quarter that was recovered by DJ Trent and returned for a touchdown. Mark Noel also picked off a pass.

The defense held the Saxons to only three points and, if not for a field goal late in the third quarter, Cortland would have had its second consecutive shutout. The Red Dragons’ defense has been great all year, and even more so recently, as it has given up just six total points in the past three games.

“They are just a physical, fast group and they love to play together,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s fun to be a coach that coaches on the offensive side of the ball to have a defense that is that tenacious and forces so many turnovers. It helps our offense; it puts us in good positions. I can’t say enough coach Morgan and our defensive staff.”

The undefeated Red Dragons have been stellar all season and hope to bring the momentum of winning the conference title into the final two games and the postseason.

“We just try to attack each week the same,” Fitzpatrick said. “We know we have been winning but if we play anything less than our best, there’s no guarantee that is going to continue and because of that, we have been getting better this season and we still have room to grow. We are going to try and get even better these last two games.”