Kyle Hoppy (Orchard Park) and Ricky Bailey (Niagara Falls) hooked up on a 34-yard touchdown pass with 6:58 left in the fourth quarter to give Buffalo State a 20-19 victory over Bridgewater State (Mass.) Saturday at Coyer Field in the Bengals' season opener>
The visiting Bears had taken a 19-14 lead on a 23-yard pass from Stefano D'Emilia to Brandon Giles early in the third quarter after the Bengals had taken a 14-13 lead into halftime.
Hoppy's pass to Bailey capped a 44-yard drive which began after an 8-yard punt return by Rey Jordan.
Senior quarterback Hoppy completed 16 of 26 for 172 yards including a 35-yard TD pass to Stephen Johnson (McKinley) to open the scoring. Bridgewater tied it on D'Emilia' 9-yard pass to Jack Lavanchy laterin the first quarter. Dale Stewart (Niagara Falls) ran 3 yards to cap a 57-yard drive to put the Bengals back in front but Jonathan Marerro's 1-yard run with 14 seconds left in the half narrowed the margin to one point at the break.
Buffalo State outgained the visitors by only 231-228 and had just 59 yards rushing in 36 attempts. Stewart led the Bengals with 63 yards on the ground. Johnson had three receptions for 52 yards while Bailey, Stewart and tight end Jevon Megna (North Tonawanda) had two receptions each.
Linebacker Bart Mazzara (Starpoint) had 10 total tackles, including four solos to lead the Bengals' defense. Paul Krowel and Rolando Cercone (Canisius) each had a sack for the winners.
It was the Bengals' first encounter with Bridgewater, the Massachusetts State College Conference champion last season and a 33-27 overtime loser to Alfred in the NCAA Division III playoffs.
The Bengals will open their Empire 8 schedule at noon next Saturday at Morrisville State.