Cortland Comes Up Short at Randolph-Macon, 35-28, in NCAA First Round

Cortland Comes Up Short at Randolph-Macon, 35-28, in NCAA First Round

Soccer | 11/19/2022 5:35:00 PM

ASHLAND, VA – Randolph-Macon held Cortland scoreless in the second half to overcome a 7-point halftime deficit and the nationally 16th-ranked Yellow Jackets defeated the visiting 17th-ranked Red Dragons, 35-28, in the opening round of the NCAA Division III football playoffs .

Cortland closes the season with a 9-2 record. The Red Dragons were making their second straight NCAA appearance and 11th overall and finish tied for 17th place in the tournament. Randolph-Macon improved to 11-0 and will face Delaware Valley (Pa.) in the second round next Saturday.

Cortland quarterback Zac Boyes (Buffalo/Kenmore West) completed 22-of-31 passes for 318 yards and three touchdowns. Cole Burgess (Greenwich) caught six passes for 105 yards and a touchdown, JJ Laap (Stony Brook/Ward Melville) had six catches for 71 yards, and Rashad Tucker (Freeport) and CJ Messina (Sayville) each had a touchdown reception among their oven catches. Jaden Alfanostjohn (Westhampton/Westhampton Beach) ran for a score and ended with 47 yards on the ground.

Joe Ruggieri (Oceanside) and Devin McArthur (Saratoga Springs) led the Red Dragon defense with eight tackles each. Ruggieri posted 1.5 tackles for loss. Will Ruckert (Lindenhurst) ended with seven tackles and Ty Kolar (Sayville) and Christian Legagneur (Brentwood/St. John the Baptist) had six stops each. Patrick Luby (Ridgewood, NJ) averaged 40.7 yards per punt on three kicks.

Randolph-Macon quarterback Drew Campanale was 10-for-15 passing for 256 yards and three touchdowns and he ran for 28 yards on six carries. Joey Hunt, David Wallis and Zach Bowman each caught TD passes and Nick Hale and Andrew Ihle ran for scores. Daniel Eliasek led the Yellow Jackets with 10 tackles, eight solos. Alex Biddle and Jackson Deaver each registered an interception and seven tackles. Randolph-Macon finished the game with six sacks by five different players, led by KU Htoo with 1.5 sacks.

Cortland finished with a slight 385-371 edge in total offense, and both teams averaged at least six yards per play from scrimmage.

The hosts took a 7-0 lead on a 71-yard pass from Campanale to Wallis with 9:33 left in the first quarter. Cortland, however, took the lead with touchdowns on its next two drives. Boyes hit Burgess for an 11-yard score to tie the game at 7-7 with 5:56 left in the first. The drive was highlighted by a Boyes 25-yard run on 3rd-and-19 from the Randolph-Macon 49. The Red Dragons started their next drive at their own 8-yard line and drove 92 yards on 11 plays, capped by a 28 -yard TD pass from Boyes to Tucker on 3rd-and-8 with 12:06 remaining in the second quarter.

Randolph-Macon struck for a 44-yard TD catch by Bowman to tie the game less than three minutes later. Cortland answered with a 13-play, 75-yard drive to regain the lead. Alfanostjohn ran for three yards on 4th-and-1 from the RM 21-yard line to keep the drive going, and he eventually scored on a 1-yard run with 1:36 left in the half to make it 21-14.

Each team scored again before halftime. The hosts covered 70 yards in just three plays, starting with a 50-yard catch by Wallis and ending with a 25-yard TD catch by Hunt at the 1:07 mark. Cortland began its ensuing drive at its 25-yard line. A 43-yard pass to Burgess on 2nd-and-18 moved the ball to the RM 29. Three plays later Boyes hit Messina for a 19-yard catch to the 10, and two plays after that Boyes found Messina wide open for a 7 -yard TD with 11 seconds left and Cortland led 28-21 at halftime.

After each team recorded a stop to start the second half, Randolph-Macon drove 80 yards on eight plays, ending with Hale’s 7-yard run, to tie the game at 28. Deaver intercepted Boyes on Cortland’s next possession and returned the ball 20 yards to the Cortland 37-yard line. The Yellowjackets eventually turned that field position into a score, assisted by a face mask penalty that negated a sack on 3rd-and-12 at the Cortland 16 and a pass interference call in the end zone on 2nd-and-goal from the 7. Ihle’s 1-yard TD run put the hosts ahead, 35-28, with 14:56 left.

Cortland was unable to convert on three possessions in the fourth quarter. The Red Dragons had the ball at midfield on the first of those attempts before two sacks eventually led to a punt. With less than seven minutes left Cortland was stopped for just a yard on 4th-and-2 from midfield, and Cortland’s final drive starting with 3:02 remaining ended on the second play when Biddle intercepted a deep pass at midfield.

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