To be the best, you have to play the best.
But for the Erie Community College football team, playing perennially nationally ranked Georgia Military College has repeatedly ended up in losses.
The Kats' defense put up a valiant effort for three quarters but the offense was ineffective in a 41-13 loss in front of 675 at Jim Ball Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Bulldogs improved to 5-0 in the series. Of the seven losses ECC has suffered at home, three of them have come at the hands of Georgia Military, ranked No. 5 in the latest NJCAA poll.
"I enjoy playing them because if we make it to a bowl game, we're going to play that caliber of kid," ECC coach Dennis Greene said. "That's the team that you're going to face so I'm never taking them off my schedule. But that's my thorn. That's one team I haven't beaten."
Saturday the ECC defense held its own for the first half, containing Georgia Military to a 13-0 lead at the break and 190 total yards -- 68 of which came on long run.
But the Kats' offense completely stalled,, managing just 34 yards and one first down -- that on the first play from scrimmage in the first half. Constant three-and-outs gave the ECC defense little time to rest while Georgia Military put together long drives.
Eventually, the defensive unit wore down, surrendering 461 yards and 34 points (one of the Bulldogs' touchdowns came on an interception return).
The Kats finished with 214 yards and nine first downs.
"Our offense couldn't get going so our defense stayed on the field," Greene said. "If we could have established a drive offensively, it would have kept our defense fresh and we would have played a heck of a lot better. . . . Taking nothing away from [Ammar] Dyson, but he's our third string quarterback. He gave us 13 points. And we've been making the same mistakes all season, jumping offsides. We're our own worst enemy."
Dyson has played the last three games for the Kats since starter Andre Barbosa injured his throwing arm in a loss at Dean on Oct. 13. Backup QB Nicholas Adrian broke his ankle outside of practice, throwing the freshman Dyson into the starter's role.
In Saturday's game Dyson completed 10 of 24 passes for 158 yards with two interceptions. He had two touchdown passes -- one a 55-yarder to Aaron Valentin and the other a 42-yard score to Brian Fowler -- in the fourth quarter.
ECC, which finished the regular season 6-3 overall, will play Hudson Valley at Union College in Schenectady at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in the Region III Championship. The Kats finished second in the Northeast Conference with a 3-2 record.
Bengals bow to NJ
The College of New Jersey clinched its first New Jersey Athletic Conference championship since 1998 and earned the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III playoffs with a 27-14 win over Buffalo State at Coyer Field.
Up 7-0 at halftime, the Lions (8-1, 6-0) assumed a 20-0 lead early in the third quarter to take control of the game, despite being limited to 290 total yards.
Buffalo State quarterback Dan Aquilio (Depew) completed 16 of 42 passes for 164 yards with a touchdown and an interception, which ws returned for a touchdown. Greg Meyer (Lancaster) had eight catches for 111 yards.
The Bengals (2-7, 1-6) will conclude their season Saturday when they host Brockport State at 1 p.m.