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BENGALS HAVE UPSTATE SUPREMACY AT STAKE

A pivotal game? Jerry Boyes would point out that they're all pivotal games. The Buffalo State football coach is fond of the you're-only-as-good-as-last-week mentality.

But perhaps there's a little more at stake this Saturday when he takes the Bengals down the Thruway to Brockport for an Upstate New York Division III battle.

The two schools are ranked next to each other in all three major D-III polls and in the Upstate New York poll, which has Buffalo State (3-1) ranked second, though Brockport (3-0) received more first-place votes.

"They're the best Brockport team I've ever seen," Boyes said. "They've got a tailback who can make things happen every time he touches the ball. They're huge on the offensive line and have a very aggressive defense."

The Bengals' defense hasn't been too shabby either. In the last two games, they've given up just 85 rushing yards. But they'll face their toughest test of the season in Brockport's Courtlan Green, whose 158-yard average is best in Upstate New York.

Conversely, Buffalo State has shown a solid air attack this season with fourth-year starting quarterback back Chris Henry tops in passing efficiency in the region while throwing for 226.3 yards per game.

The key for the Bengals' offense becomes avoiding the funk it fell into for a couple of quarters in last week's win over Cortland.

"We went into a funk. I don't know exactly why, but I don't want to see it again," Boyes said.

"Physical mistakes happen. You don't like them, but you know that sometimes they're going to happen. The mental mistakes, blocking the wrong person or running the wrong play, those we can't accept."

Meanwhile, Division I-AA Canisius is idle this week after dropping its third straight game last Saturday, 17-12, to Division II Gannon.

The good news for the Griffs -- and first-year head coach Ed Argast insists there's good news -- is that they held a 12-7 lead into the fourth quarter and scored their most points of the season.

"We took a big step -- probably the biggest step we've taken so far," Argast said. "I still don't think it will take as long as some people think. I still think we can win three or four games this season.

"They saw that they're capable of playing with teams, that they're not bad football players. . . . Now I can start being a football coach and not a psychologist. This week, we'll work on the basic fundamentals every football team needs to be reminded of and start getting ready for LaSalle."

Next up for the Griffs is a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game with the Explorers Oct. 7 at the Demske Sports Complex.

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