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Endicott clipped by No. 17 Cortland in NCAA tournament

Endicott clipped by No. 17 Cortland in NCAA tournament

Cortland, N.Y. – The Endicott football team saw its historic season come to an end on Saturday afternoon after losing at No. 17 SUNY Cortland, 49-35, in an NCAA Division III Tournament first round matchup. The Gulls finish the season with a program-best 9-3 record. Endicott won its first New England Football Conference (NEFC) division and league title this season before makings its first NCAA tournament berth in just its eighth varsity season.

The Gulls trailed 14-0 after the first quarter before matching the Red Dragons point-for-point the rest of the way. Endicott scored a pair of defensive touchdowns in a 21-point fourth quarter to keep the game within reach. The Blue and Green hung 21 offensive points on Cortland (10-1), who entered the game with the nation’s top scoring defense (7.8 points per game).

Endicott trailed 42-14 in the fourth quarter before back-to-back defensive touchdowns closed the gap to two scores. Cortland answered with a 12-yard touchdown run by Dorian Myles (Lackawanna, N.Y.), one of two on the afternoon, to put the game out of reach.

Quarterback Phil Konopka (Shelton, Conn.) finished 25-of-41 for 175 yards and two touchdowns through the air. The junior also carried the ball two times for 15 yards and a score. 

Cortland quarterback Dan Pitcher (Cortland, N.Y.) threw for a touchdown and ran for another in the opening quarter to put the hosts on top 14-0. 

Endicott’s first score came with 7:15 left in the second quarter and was set up by a Kyle Capsalis (Townsend, Mass.) interception. The Gulls drove 32 yards for a touchdown, which included a Konopka 2-yard sneak on 4th-and-1 at the Cortland 4-yard line. The junior quarterback found Justin Burl (Newburyport, Mass.) with a 2-yard TD pass on the next play.

Cortland responded with a 93-yard touchdown drive on its next possession. The 11-play drive was capped by Pitcher’s 21-yard scoring pass to Mike Humphrey (Le Roy, N.Y.), giving the Red Dragons a 21-7 lead at halftime.

The Red Dragons drove 60 yards on the opening series of the third quarter to extend their lead to 28-7.

Konopka’s 13-yard quarterback draw finished a 71-yard scoring drive on Endicott’s next possession to cut the Cortland lead to 28-14.

The hosts threatened the blow the game open early in the fourth quarter. Justin Autera’s (Mahopac, N.Y.) one yard touchdown run made it 35-14. Cortland increased the lead to 42-14 after Myles’ ran 43 yards to pay dirt on the hosts’ next possession.

The Gulls resilient defense would not go down quietly. Pete Kallas (Beverly, Mass.) forced a fumble in the backfield on Cortland’s next possession. Senior defensive back Jordan Fields (Biddeford, Maine) scooped up the loose ball and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown.

Endicott failed to recover the ensuing onsides kick –one of three on the day- giving Cortland prime field position in the fourth quarter. The Red Dragons marched down to the Gulls’ nine yard line before junior defensive back Bill Hickey (Walpole, Mass.) intercepted a pass in the flat and returned it 89 yards for the score. 

Myles’s 12 yard run with 1:39 remaining gave Cortland a 21-point lead. Endicott concluded the scoring with a 59-yard drive that ended with an 18-yard pass from Konopka to Murphy with 30 seconds left.

Cortland will host Alfred University in the NCAA second round on Saturday, Nov. 27 at noon.

Kallas led all defenders with 13 tackles including six solo and one for a loss to go along with the forced fumble. Senior defensive back PJ Bay (Darien, Conn.) finished with 10 tackles while NEFC Defensive Player of the Year Kevin Eagan (West Hartford, Conn.) made nine stops. 

Junior running back Mike Lane (Medfield, Mass.) was limited to 44 yards on 16 carries.