Cougars Upset #7 Cortland, 24-10

Cougars Upset #7/8 Cortland, 24-10

CORTLAND, N.Y. (9/26/09) - Kean University scored on three straight possessions in the first half en-route to upsetting #7/8 SUNY Cortland, 24-10, while also defeating the Red Dragons for the first time in program history in a key New Jersey Athletic Conference game on Saturday afternoon. 

The Cougars (2-1, 2-0 NJAC) snapped a pair of Cortland winning streaks, first defeating the Red Dragons for the first time in 14 games, while also snapping Cortland's 12 game NJAC winning streak. 

Sophomore quarterback Thomas D'Ambrisi (Eatontown, N.J.) had exactly 200 total yards of total offense and contributed to all three Cougar touchdowns, as he paced a Cougar running attack that had three rushers with at least 50 yards apiece.  The sophomore finished with a team-high 64 yards and two rushing touchdowns, while connecting on 14-of-21 passes for 136 yards, including his first 10 pass attempts.

Senior Jared Chunn (Tinton Falls, N.J.) carried the ball 12 times for 59 yards, while senior running back Chris Aquino (Somerville, N.J.) (pictured right) finished with 55 yards rushing on just seven carries.

Defensively, the Cougars limited Cortland (2-1, 2-1 NJAC) to just 68 yards rushing, while making three interceptions on junior quarterback Hudson Woodward (Beacon, N.Y.), who was making his first career start.  Woodward finished 20-of-39 for 183 yards and one touchdown.

Kean caught a break on Cortland's opening drive after what appeared to be a 53-yard touchdown run was brought back on a pair of Red Dragon penalties.  The Red Dragons would then capitalize on a Cougar mistake of their own, when the ensuing punt was fumbled and Cortland recovered at the Kean 14-yard line. 

The Cougar defense held the Red Dragons to just a field goal three plays later and then answered with a 40-yard field goal by sophomore Billy Daniels (Ridgewood, N.J.) on the team's next drive to tie the game at 3-3 with 6:20 remaining in the first quarter.

After the Cougars forced Cortland to punt on their next possession, Kean marched back down the field, as D'Ambrisi completed all four of his pass attempts, including a 16-yard pass completion in the endzone to junior wide receiver Matt Puorro (Point Pleasant, N.J.) for the touchdown and a 10-3 lead following the extra point by Daniels.

Cortland responded with a nine-play, 72-yard drive to tie the game, as Woodward connected with junior tight end Brian Haber (Northport, N.Y.) on a pair of key receptions.  A 35-yard completion to the sideline set up first and ten at the Kean 20-yard line and six plays later, the seven-yard touchdown reception on third and goal tied the game at 10-10 with 7:45 remaining in the half.

On the ensuing Kean drive, D'Ambrisi completed 3-of-3 passes for 47 yards and went the final three yards of the drive on his own, as he scored the go-ahead touchdown to give the Cougars the lead for good with a 17-10 advantage with 3:30 to go in the half.

Each team had another opportunity to score before the break, as the Cougars thwarted a Cortland drive when sophomore Mike Mancini (Lacey Township, N.J.) (pictured left) intercepted the Woodward pass at the Kean 21-yard line and returned the ball 55-yards to the Cortland 24-yard line with just 65 seconds remaining in the half. 

The Cougars were unable to capitalize with the short field position however, as back-to-back penalties pushed Kean back near midfield and the Cougars went into the break with the 17-10 lead.

In the third quarter, the Cougar defense set up the only score of the second half when rookie Justin McClendon (South Brunswick, N.J.) intercepted the Woodward pass at the Kean 35-yard line and handed the ball off to Lauda, who returned the ball 26 yards back into Cortland territory. 

On the subsequent scoring drive, Chunn had a key 12-yard rush on third-and-11, giving the Cougars first down at the Cortland 15-yard line.  After a pass interference call in the endzone set-up first-and-goal at the two-yard line, D'Ambrisi took the ball in on the quarterback draw for the 24-10 lead after the extra point by Daniels. 

Cortland had several opportunities in the final quarter, however the Red Dragons turned the ball over on downs on the first two possession. 

After pinning the Cougars against their goal line with their first possession of the fourth quarter, the Red Dragons opened their next possession at the Kean 35-yard line.  On the first play of the drive, junior running back Cory Russell (La Fayette, N.Y.) rushed for 18-yards and the Red Dragons would eventually get inside the 10-yard line, however Cortland would turn the ball over on downs when the fourth-down pass attempt was deflected at the line of scrimmage. 

The Red Dragons would have two more possessions in the final quarter, however the Cougars would again force the Red Dragons to turn the ball over on downs and sophomore Jamahl Williams (Passaic, N.J.) had his third interception in as many games this season to seal the victory, as the Cougars were then able to run out the clock.

Senior nose tackle Darryl Jackson (Red Bank, N.J.) (pictured right) led Kean with eight tackles, while junior Victor D'Arrigo (Staten Island, N.Y.) had six solo stops, including a sack for a loss of nine yards.  The Cougars, who had seven players make at least five tackles, had six tackles for a loss of 33 yards on the afternoon.

Cortland receivers Eric Hajnos (Grand Island, N.Y.) and Anthony Giuliano (Thornwood, N.Y.) led all receivers with five catches apiece, while Wayne Wheeler (Memphis, N.Y.) had a game-high 64 receiving yards.

Senior punter, Kyle Peterson (Montrose, N.Y.) continues to have a solid season as he averaged 40.8 yards on five punts. Peterson entered the game third nationally in Division III with 43.5 yards per punt.

After two straight games on the road, the Cougars return home on Friday, October 2, when they host The College of New Jersey in NJAC action.  Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.