In what looked like it could have been a miracle comeback, the College lost to SUNY Cortland 23-20 on Saturday afternoon, Oct. 29.
The Lions fell into a hole early, ending the first half down 23-6 to the Red Dragons, 14 of which came in the first quarter.
“If we take the first quarter away I think it’s a different game,” head coach Eric Hamilton said. “We just got off to a slow start. But I was more proud of our guys not by the way that we started but the way that we finished. We just kind of didn’t have enough at the end.”
The team would make a major comeback in the second half, led by senior quarterback Jay Donoghue on offense. Donoghue passed for two TDs in the second half, both of them going to senior wide receiver Glenn Granger, his team-leading second and third on the season.
“I think like anything else, field position was a big factor,” Hamilton said. “We had no position in the first half, and that kind of allowed their defense, which was very good, to kind of dictate to us what they wanted to do. I think the biggest difference in the second half was that we had good field position and our defense created a couple of turnovers and gave our offense a shorter field to work on like (Cortland) did to us in the first half.”
The only thing that could have stopped the College’s comeback bid was the clock, and it did just that as it ran out on the team with the score still at 23-20.
“Our biggest problem offensively was that we figured out their weak spots too late,” senior offensive lineman Jon Power said. “If we played the entire game like the fourth quarter, there is no doubt that we would have won the game.”
One bright spot for the team, despite the loss, was the standout play once again from sophomore linebacker Nick Bricker and senior safety Shawn Brown.
Brown forced and recovered a key fumble off of a sack in the second half, moving the momentum over to the College. Brown also recorded nine tackles and two forced fumbles on the game. Bricker was responsible for a career-high 22 tackles (the second-most in a single game in the NJAC this season) including two tackles for a loss. For Hamilton, however, it was the team effort that impressed him the most.
“More importantly, I think the whole group played well,” Hamilton said. “Even though Nick had 22 tackles, he did, and he played well, but a lot of guys are a part of that.”
“The defense has been clutch this year,” Power said. “It’s always nice to know that if we mess up one series and go three-and-out, the defense will get the ball right back for us.”
The team will finish their home schedule this Saturday at noon, and Hamilton believes a strong home crowd could go a long way.
“Getting students involved and coming out and making it a fun afternoon or night or whatever, it just builds for the campus or college kind of spirit,” he said.