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DARNLEY'S BROCKPORT STATE FOOTBALL CAREER IS ONE FOR THE RECORDS

Chances are this won't be Bob Darnley's final month as a football player.

A professional team somewhere has to have a need for a big, mobile quarterback with a strong arm who is savvy enough to win games even when he's not 100 percent healthy. But potential future playing opportunities, possibly in one of the two Arena Football Leagues, are not a concern at the moment for Darnley.

All that matters to the 22-year-old, 6-foot-1, 205-pound Niagara-Wheatfield graduate is Brockport State College's on-field success. That's all that has mattered to him since he exchanged the Falcons' black-and-red colors for the green and gold of the Golden Eagles in 2000.

So even though Darnley, a fifth-year senior, entered Saturday's game against Rowan as Brockport's all-time leader in passing yards (5,582), touchdown passes (52) and completions (429), the stats the fourth-year starter is most proud of are the 29 wins, .806 winning percentage and three NCAA Tournament appearances the Golden Eagles have amassed during his tenure as signal-caller.

He knows the individual records are a byproduct of the team's success. He doesn't make a big deal about the individual marks, something that hasn't gone unnoticed by longtime Brockport coach Rocco Salomone.

"It really goes hand in hand," Salomone said. "He never talks about any records. He talks about winning games. It's really a cumulative result of playing good football for four years. If you do, at some point you're going to break records. He's very, very competitive, personality-wise. He will fight tooth and nail to win a football game."

Doing whatever is necessary to win football games is something Darnley has been doing since his scholastic days, when he spent his junior season as a slash-type of player waiting for his opportunity to start at quarterback as a senior. During that junior season, Darnley proved he could run the ball, catch and throw it and even serve as a blocking fullback.

A former Second Team All-Western New York selection, he still holds the Niagara-Wheatfield single-game record for total offensive yards (rushing and passing), a 468-yard performance with three touchdowns in a win over Grand Island -- which at the time featured current Cortland State assistant coach and Arena Football League 2 quarterback J.J. Tutwiler.

Darnley rushed for 1,011 yards and passed for 789 as a high school senior.

His competitive nature is the reason Darnley played most of his sophomore season for Brockport with torn cartilage in his knee -- limited to just seven games. He still helped the Golden Eagles roll through the regular season with an 8-0 record.

His attitude is one of the reasons 4-3 Brockport entered the weekend as a bubble team for the 28-team national tournament, instead of just being on the bubble for the consolation tournament known as the ECAC Playoffs.

"A kid with his experience at this point, he's a dangerous player," Salomone said. "He's has very good poise. He feels the rush. He's able to make big plays with his arm. He's a kid you're going to look to and you hope he can rally up the team."

Darnley's competitiveness is why this season has been perhaps the hardest he's ever experienced as a football player. The Golden Eagles have more than held their own playing against wickedly tough competition in the first-year Atlantic Central Football Conference -- winning stiff nonconference tests against Cortland State and nationally ranked Ithaca College.

But tough losses to up-and-comers St. John Fisher College and Delaware-based conference foe Wesley College, by a total of 12 points, may be the reason Brockport's streak of four straight NCAA Tournament appearances comes to an end. The three losses are the most Darnley has endured during a regular season at Brockport.

Winning is what's been fun, and Brockport figured it would do a lot of that with Darnley in the fold. Salomone remembers the pitch from offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Pete Matthews as to why the Golden Eagles had to pursue Darnley.

"This isn't a kid we want to play against. This is a kid we want here," said Salomone, recalling Matthews' words.

Darnley has completed 56.4 percent of his pass attempts (429 for 760) and has only been picked off 31 times. He's rushed for 1,634 yards and 18 touchdowns. He set school records for touchdowns in a single season (21) and completion percentage (60.2) last season.

"We knew he was a very good talent," Salomone said. "In the last year, he's become synonymous in the area for Brockport football."

Darnley said coming back from injuries and setting the yardage and completion records feels pretty good.

"I didn't even know I broke the (yardage) record until they announced it during the game," he said.

Darnley said he got letters from Division I schools Michigan State, Valparaiso and Marshall but that his grades weren't good enough to earn a scholarship from those schools. He was allowed to enroll at Brockport on the condition that he attend two-hour study halls three times a week during his freshman year.

Niagara-Wheatfield football coach Al Pogel said, "The bottom line is it's still up to the student to take advantage of the opportunity, and I think Bob has done a tremendous job making the most of the opportunity he was given."

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