SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The College at Brockport football team built a 12-point second half lead and held on late to earn a 33-28 win over Western New England University in the first round of the NCAA Division III Tournament on Saturday afternoon at Golden Bear Stadium.
Brockport (9-2) advances to the second round to face Muhlenberg next Saturday (11/23), while Western New England's season comes to a close at 9-2.
Western New England senior quarterback Brendan Smith (Seekonk, Mass.) completed 12-of-25 pass attempts for 205 yards and four touchdowns with one interception after entering the game in the second quarter. Junior receivers Steven Fedorchak (Guilderland, N.Y.) and Adam Razza (Watertown, Conn.) both made five receptions for 102 and 79 yards, respectively, while hauling in two touchdown catches each. With his 102-yard effort, Fedorchak became the first receiver in program history to surpass 1,000 yards in a single season.
Defensively, junior linebacker Erich Keutmann (Washingtonville, N.Y.) paced the Golden Bears with a game-high 13 tackles, including two for a loss of 12 yards and one sack. Sophomore linebacker Joshua Salem (Dracut, Mass.) was also a key contributor with 12 stops and two sacks.
Brockport was led by freshman quarterback Freddy June (Rochester, N.Y.), who compiled 298 yards of total offense and three touchdowns. He went 16-of-26 for 234 yards and two scores through the air, while also adding 64 yards and another touchdown on the ground. Sophomore running back Jala Coad (Amityville, N.Y.) finished with 152 yards and two touchdowns on 29 attempts (5.2 avg.), and junior wide receiver Imhotep Cromer (Mount Vernon, N.Y.) caught six passes for 129 yards and one score.
Golden Eagles sophomore linebacker Ben Damiani (Lancaster, N.Y.) made a team-high seven tackles for the visitors, including 2.5 for a loss and one sack.
Brockport received the game's opening kickoff and embarked on a lengthy 13-play, 75-yard drive that last just under eight minutes. The Golden Eagles struck first as June connected with senior wide receiver DaQuan Hubbard (Niagara Falls, N.Y.) for a 15-yard touchdown, but senior Dustin Moyle's (Carthage, N.Y.) ensuing extra point attempt was blocked to keep Brockport's early lead at 6-0.
The next three possessions for both teams ended in punts as the contest was a defensive battle in the early stages. The Golden Bears got the ball back with 11:01 remaining in the half and put together their first scoring drive, however. Working with a short field, Smith completed a 30-yard pass to Razza on the first play of the drive to get Western New England to the Brockport 15-yard line. Three plays later on third and five, Smith found Fedorchak across the middle for a ten-yard touchdown and senior Kieran Lombard (Dover, N.H.) converted the ensuing extra point to put the Golden Bears ahead 7-6.
The Western New England defense continued its strong play, forcing another Brockport three-and-out as the Golden Bear offense regained possession at the 50-yard line with 8:16 left in the half. Three plays later on third and nine, Smith again found Fedorchak, this time with a deep ball across the middle of the field for a 49-yard touchdown that increased the home team's lead to 14-6.
Brockport would cut into its deficit before the break, however, as the Golden Eagles drove 78 yards over 14 plays and converted a pair of fourth down opportunities, including a 24-yard touchdown pass from June to Cromer on 4th and 19 from the Western New England 24-yard line. Brockport was unsuccessful on its 2-point conversion, however, as the Golden Bears led 14-12 at halftime.
Western New England still led 14-12 midway through the third quarter as the two teams punted a combined five times to open the second half. The Brockport offense got the ball back with 5:37 left in the period and drove all the way to the WNE 12-yard line before the drive stalled. The Golden Bears maintained their lead, however, as Moyle missed wide left on his 29-yard field goal attempt.
On the very next play, the Golden Eagles came up with a key takeaway as junior linebacker Lawrence Jenkins (Derby, N.Y.) intercepted Smith at the WNE 25-yard line. Brockport capitalized on the turnover as Coad scored a six-yard touchdown six plays later to put the visitors back in front, 19-14.
Following another Western New England punt, the Golden Eagles were able to extend their advantage to 26-14 early in the fourth quarter as Coad broke free for a 53-yard touchdown run.
The Golden Bears answered on their ensuing possession, as Smith led a 12-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Razza to pull Western New England back to within five (26-21) with 9:50 to play.
Brockport put together a key response on their next drive, moving the ball 75 yards over eight plays with June finding the end zone on a 22-yard rush to again put the visitors ahead by 12 (33-21) with 4:38 on the clock.
A 59-yard return by senior Byron Jones (West Hartford, Conn.) on the ensuing kickoff sparked the Golden Bears, who needed just 1:23 to score as Smith connected with Razza for a 2-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to five (33-28) for the final time.
Western New England was unable to recover the ball on Lombard's onside kick, however, and Brockport converted on a crucial fourth and one from the WNE 40-yard line to seal the win for the Golden Eagles.
• Western New England's 28 points against Brockport are the most the Golden Eagles surrendered since their 33-7, season-opening loss to Hobart on 9/7. Brockport entered today's contest allowing just 13.2 points per game (12th in NCAA Division III).
• The Golden Eagles, who lead the nation in rushing defense, limited Western New England to just 14 yards on the ground.
• Brockport won the time of possession battle, 41:36 to 18:24.