It was the biggest win in Buffalo State football history. Sounds like a bit of hyperbole, but it's not. The unranked Bengals defeated the three-time defending national champion Warhawks from Wisconsin-Whitewater, 7-6. Buffalo State broke the host's 46-game win streak.
But what does that win actually mean? The rest of the season will determine whether that win was a one-time shining moment or the beginning of a turning point for Buffalo State football.
The Bengals went 2-1 in their non-conference games, opening with an impressive showing against Cortland before a disappointing performance in a loss at Brockport.
This week, Buffalo State hosts Alfred in its inaugural game as a member of the Empire 8. And for head coach Jerry Boyes, this is where it gets interesting.
"There are definite steps to building team success and if you circumvent those you get inconsistency or what I call yo-yo seasons - a great victory followed by a disappointing loss," Boyes said. "Now it's all about where we go from here. People say 'wow' but I don't know who we are because so far what we've had is great victory, disappointing loss, great victory. Now what? So we'll see."
The players are saying all the right things, enjoying the win and the increased interest in the program while focusing on the next task. They can thank Brockport for that focus.
"Going into the Brockport game we felt content and for a football player, that's never a good thing," said senior linebacker Pasquale Vacchio, who had 19 tackles against the Warhawks. "We've got to take it one week at a time. That win is over. It's in the past. We just have to concentrate on Alfred this week and make sure we show everyone it wasn't a fluke last week."
The defense wants to prove its play wasn't a fluke. While the highlights focused on the final drive by the Bengals, including the hook-and-ladder play on fourth-and-19 and the touchdown with three seconds left, it was the defense that held the potent Warhawks to 2.9 yards per rushing attempt, setting up Buffalo State for the win.
"Oh my gosh, they saved our butts," quarterback Casey Kacz said of the defense. "They carried the team. They were the difference in the game. They didn't give up a touchdown to the No. 1 team in the country. Our defense kept giving us chances. They would bend but they wouldn't break.
"They played better than I've ever seen them play. They played faster than I've ever seen them play. They continually gave the offense chances to pick it up. If they hadn't played as good as they did we could have lost 35-7 or whatever and it wouldn't have mattered that we had one touchdown."
Kacz struggled. He threw two interceptions, was sacked once and threw for just 269 yards. But on a team that talks a lot about trust, his teammates were adamant about keeping up Kacz's spirits. They told him to forget about the turnovers. They told him jokes to keep him loose. And Kacz responded by staying the confident leader he's grown into. In fact, on the winning touchdown, Kacz scrapped the called play and went freelance with Ryan Carney on the corner.
"I see too much in football today and in athletics is that we have robots out on the field and they're so programed," Boyes said. "We don't give them the abilities to do what really is the right play. When I was playing, that was crucial - to be able to come to the line of scrimmage and say, well that's not going to work but that will work. So we're running that play. So to have Casey, who is very astute with a very good offensive mind, is so important. And Casey did a couple of adjustments on that play to give us a chance to pull out a victory."
Daemen picks up the pace
It took Daemen's volleyball team a few matches to find its feet as an NCAA Division II program. But after starting the season 1-3, the Wildcats have won seven of their last nine games, including sweeping four matches at West Chester this weekend. Outside hitters Joanna Fretthold (North Tonawanda), Jenn Karan (Orchard Park) and Lindsey Nowak (Immaculata) are leading the offensive attack along with setter Kaley Vazquez (Kenmore West) while Katie Auge (Salamanca) is the team's defensive specialist. The Wildcats (8-5) travel to Worcester, Mass., this weekend.
NU soccer still rolling
Niagara was the only local men's soccer team to escape last weekend still on an unbeaten streak. The Purple Eagles blanked Wright State to extend their unbeaten streak to seven games (4-0-3). Senior goalkeeper Brett Petricek made five saves to earn his third straight shutout. Niagara hosts St. Francis (Pa.) at 7 p.m. Friday and plays at St. Bonaventure at 1 p.m., Sunday.
Canisius and Medaille both dropped their first games of the season. For the Golden Griffins, the streak ended with a 5-1 loss to UNLV at the UNLV Nike Invitational. Canisius (5-1-2) is still off to the best start in its history and returns to Demske to host St. Bonaventure at 7 p.m. Friday.
Medaille lost in double overtime to Birmingham Southern at the Tomcat Invitational but rebounded with a 9-0 thrashing of host Thiel to improve to 6-1. The Mavericks open AMCC play at 6 p.m. Saturday when they host Penn State-Altoona at All High Stadium.