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BENGALS HAVE FUN IN EXTENDING WINNING STREAK

Life continued to roll along for Buffalo State's football team Saturday.

With solid defense and an offense with a knack for creating big plays at the right time, the Bengals handled Cortland, 26-10, to win their third straight game in front of a homecoming crowd of 1,923 at Coyer Field.

"We really had fun out there," said senior linebacker Omar Rimlawi. "We were laughing and having fun and when that happens, we play well. When guys start finger-pointing, that's when things fall apart. But everybody just had fun today."

Nothing was very enjoyable on the opposite sideline as Cortland (2-2) spent the better part of the game enduring infighting and their own finger-pointing, especially among the offensive unit. The Bengals put tremendous pressure on Cortland's offensive line, dumping quarterback Ryan McCarthy for six sacks and holding the Red Dragons to just 18 yards on the ground.

Three quarters of shutout football, capped by a goal-line stand in the fourth quarter, helped Buffalo State earn the win and a 3-1 record.

The Bengals' offense started big, scoring on their first two possessions -- a 6-yard run by Shawn Starks and a 66-yard reception by Derek Baker -- to take a 14-0 lead.

Cortland replied with a 1-yard touchdown run by McCarthy and a 27-yard field goal by George Oostmeyer to pull within three by the end of the first quarter.

Starks added another 6-yard scoring run in the second quarter, but Buffalo State's offense stalled at the end of the first half and sputtered in the second half.

"The first two drives, we were pumped up," said quarterback Chris Henry. "We were running the ball well, making yards, making first downs. Then we got off our game a little. We got complacent. Luckily, our defense was up to the highest level."

The Bengal defense made its mark in the fourth quarter, defending a 20-10 lead.

Cortland took control at its own 16 early in the final quarter. The Red Dragons marched down the field rather easily for a first-and-goal at the 5-yard line.

But the Bengals mounted a goal-line stand, leaving Cortland empty-handed after a nearly nine-minute drive, giving the Bengals the ball on their own 2 with 4:30 left in the game.

"That was really a great team effort," said Rimlawi, who had a key tackle for a 12-yard loss during the goal-line stand. "It's the old line: bend but don't break. We had our backs to the wall and we did what the coaches called."

Henry made his own call when he took over near his goal line. After two runs, he hit Baker, who turned a short, safe pass into a 95-yard touchdown.

"On offense, we make the call looking at the defense," Henry said. "If they're deep, I'll throw short. If they're in our face, I'll go deep. If they're in coverage, we'll run. They were probably surprised a little by that pass, but once Derek made the catch and I saw he had one guy to beat, I knew he was probably gone. It's nice to throw a 5-yard pass and have Derek run for 90."

Thanks in part to Baker's running ability after the catch, Henry ended the game with 284 passing yards, becoming the first Buffalo State quarterback to throw for more than 6,000 yards in his career.

Senior tackle Tim Seifert paced the defensive line with 3.5 sacks. Rimlawi led all defenders with 12 tackles.

Homecoming festivities began before the opening kickoff, as Buffalo State honored members of the 1981 football team -- the first Division III football squad in school history. This is the 20th season of Bengals football.

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