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Long CNJ scoring plays lead to Bengals' loss

Putting up points didn't seem to be terribly difficult for Buffalo State its season opener at The College of New Jersey.

But the Bengals' defense and special teams had trouble keeping big plays off the board, losing to the Lions, 47-31, Saturday.

The CNJ racked up 421 yards of offense, including 312 on the ground. Four of its six scoring plays were over 43 yards, including an 82-yard kick off return by Scotty Mathurin.

"We are obviously never satisfied with a loss," said Jerry Boyes after coaching his first game for Buffalo State since 2000. "We didn't tackle, gave up too many big plays, and we made too many mistakes to expect to come away with a win, but there were some things that I think were encouraging. I think when we look at the film we will see that the mistakes are correctable ones."

The teams traded scores for much of the first half and a 33-yard touchdown run by Willie Hordge pulled the Bengals to within four, 28-24, with 6:23 left in the second quarter.

The next four scores belonged to the Lions, however.

On the first possession after the Hordge touchdown, Michael Yetka ran 50 yards for a score to give the Lions a 35-24 halftime lead.

A field goal, a safety (on a holding penalty by the Bengals in their end zone) and a 43-yard touchdown run by Bill Picatagi pushed the lead to 47-24.

The Bengals put up 378 total yards but were just 4 of 15 on third down conversions and 2 of 6 on fourth down.

Hordge ran for 95 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. Kenny Murphy (Lancaster) completed 21 of 39 passes for 222 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Rob Smith had seven catches for 78 yards and a score while Blake Malizia caught four passes for 83 yards and a TD.

Matt Pacana (North Tonawanda) led the Bengals' defense with eight tackles.

The Bengals will play at St. John Fisher on Saturday -- the only non-conference game on the schedule.

Meanwhile, Erie Community College kicks off its season today with a 1 p.m. game at Louisburg College in North Carolina.

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