There are some subtle ways in which coach Jerry Boyes measures the progress of his Buffalo State football team. Those are the ones which speak to attitude, commitment, trust and execution. And then there are the ways in which those qualities translate on the field.
With their 51-30 win over Brockport at Coyer Field on Saturday afternoon, the Bengals gave another demonstration of how the program has turned the corner.
The Bengals went undefeated at home this year for the first time since 1999. At 4-3 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference and 4-5 overall with one game remaining, the team has a chance to finish at .500 for the first time since 2000.
"The biggest thing is the culture, the character of the players," Boyes said. "The players are working together. They're trusting each other. They're doing the right things. If you're doing the right things, once you get to that success, it stays there. Talent is part of it, but it's talent with character qualities. And that's what I'm impressed with in these players this year."
The Bengals' offense set the tone in front of 622 at Coyer Field. Ismail Brooks had a 10-yard run for a score on Buffalo State's first possession. The Bengals went on to score on all seven of their first-half possessions, taking a 48-23 lead at the break.
Sophomore quarterback Casey Kacz threw for 290 yards and two touchdowns. He completed 22-of-31 passes and ran for 74 yards on 11 carries, including two rushing touchdowns.
Mike Doherty was the prime target for Kacz, catching 10 passes for 158 yards and one TD.
For Kacz, it was another sign that he's getting comfortable in his role at QB. The Sweet Home graduate redshirted his freshman year at Chowan and saw limited action last year at Edinboro before transferring to Buffalo State. He made his first start in a 42-27 win over William Patterson Oct. 1 and has been the starter ever since.
"I'm more comfortable in the role because the first year or two of college I didn't play as much as I wanted to," Kacz said. "Being a starter I feel like I have more confidence and if I have more confidence it gives guys on the team confidence."
While Brockport (2-6, 2-5) put up big numbers, the Bengals defense came up with stops when necessary, particularly in the third quarter. The Buffalo State offense fumbled twice early in the quarter, but the Bengals held Brockport both times, once forcing the Golden Eagles to turn the ball over on downs and the second time forcing a three-and-punt drive.
"If there's any disappointment from the naked eye before we watch film, it's how we didn't come out in the second half and push them over the edge," Boyes said. "We had them on the verge and we gave them a little bit of life, turned the ball over twice right away, and the defense stood tall."
The Bengals will finish the regular season next Saturday at Morrisville State.
Erie Community College had an early first-quarter lead but visiting Milford Academy quickly seized the momentum with a kickoff return for a touchdown and a pick-six in taking a 40-27 decision from the Kats in a game that was moved to Amherst High School's Dimp Wagner Field due to soggy field conditions at Jim Ball Stadium.
After Shayon Headley's 42-yard TD catch gave ECC a 14-6 lead, the guests tied it as Donte Dotson returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards for the score, while Montrell Dobbs ran in the two-point conversion with 7:28 left in the first quarter. Andre Dixon returned an interception 56 yards to give unbeaten Milford (11-0) the lead for good nearly four minutes later. Deonta Winston rushed for two touchdowns and 49 yards for ECC (2-7).