Three wins in a row. One game below .500. Could this really be Buffalo State?
The Bengals closed out their home season with an 18-12 win over Thiel Saturday afternoon. The win improved Buffalo State to 4-5 while the loss spoiled Thiel's (7-3) NCAA postseason hopes.
Meanwhile, in junior college action, Georgia Military hung on for a 20-16 win over visiting Erie Community College.
At Coyer Field, freshman running back James Perkins ran for 101 yards on 26 carries, scoring two touchdowns to pace the Bengals.
"We wanted this win for our seniors," said Bengals coach Paul Shaffner. "This proves to ourselves that we can accomplish our goals when we believe in ourselves and come together. This can be a turning point for our program."
The Bengals opened the scoring in the first quarter when Daniel Perez forced a Thiel fumble and Michael Holbok recovered it at the visitor's 4-yard line. Three plays later, Perkins scored on a 1-yard run.
Buffalo State's next possession was an eight-play, 83-yard drive that ended with a 9-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mike Mikolaichik to Jonathan Allen.
A Thiel fumble, recovered by Hank Pirowski on the 12-yard line, helped the Bengals to another score on a 10-yard run by Perkins.
With two touchdowns and missed extra points in the fourth quarter, Thiel got back in the game, but another lost fumble by the Tomcats helped the Bengals keep the lead.
Mikolaichik completed 11 of 26 passes for 138 yards while Jeff Shostak had three catches for 92 yards.
Nike Warren led the Buffalo State defense with 11 tackles while Perry Taglienti had 10 tackles, including a sack.
Neither team converted a point-after-touchdown.
In Milledgeville, Ga., ECC dropped its final regular season game. No statistics were kept by Georgia Military (4-5).
Jason Fralicker (North Tonawanda) uncharacteristically missed two field goals and one extra point -- all points, if converted, would have given the Kats the win.
"We had a chance to win. We had about five chances to win and we just didn't get it done," said ECC coach Dennis Greene. "Our defense had two interceptions that took us inside the 10-yard line and we didn't score. Special teams had an off game. It was a great defensive game and the offense controlled the ball when it needed to and punched one in.
"We won a lot of games on (Fralicker's) leg and it just wasn't there today," Greene added. "I hate these kinds of games. I hate games that come down to the wire where you can look at one play here or one play there, but that's the nature of the game."
The Kats fall to 7-3 and will meet Hudson Valley in the Northeast Conference Championship at 12:15 Saturday at Jim Ball Stadium. There is no automatic bowl bid for the winner, but if ECC can get the win, the Kats will still be in contention for a junior college bowl invitation.