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Cortland too strong for PSU in NCAA Football playoffs

            CORTLAND, N.Y. - Senior tailback Andrew Giuliano (Thornwood, N.Y.) rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown and senior quarterback Ray Miles (Port Byron, N.Y.) completed 13-of-23 passes for 175 yards and three touchdowns Saturday afternoon as SUNY Cortland defeated Plymouth State University, 31-14, in the opening round of the NCAA Division III football playoffs.

            Cortland (10-1), which won its first NCAA game since 1988, will host Curry College in the second round next Saturday. Curry, the seventh seed in the "Mount Union" region, upset second-seeded Ithaca, 26-21, in the first round at Ithaca. Cortland is the third seed in the bracket and PSU was the sixth.

            Seniors Eric Hajnos (Grand Island, N.Y.), Mike Lane (White Plains, N.Y.) and Zacc Guaragno (Lansing, N.Y.) each caught touchdown passes. Guaragno finished with six catches for 79 yards and Hajnos had three catches for 63 yards.

            Senior quarterback John DeMarco (Milford, N.H.) ran for a touchdown and passed for a score for Plymouth State (10-2). He passed for 171 yards despite completing only 9-of-18 passes. Senior tailback Jeff Mack (Milford, N.H.) gained 100 yards on 27 carries and sophomore J.J. Brooks (Seabrook, N.H./Winnacunnet) caught five passes for 118 yards and a touchdown. Plymouth entered the game averaging less than seven pass attempts per game but threw 18 times, including 12 in the second half as the Panthers tried to rally from a 17-6 halftime deficit.

            Four Red Dragons recorded double-figure tackles. Senior Matt Berman (Scarsdale, N.Y.) finished with 11 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. Senior Richard Rolo (Yonkers, N.Y.), sophomore Brian Haas (East Aurora, N.Y.) and junior Lou Crispo (Eastchester, N.Y.) had 10 tackles each, with Rolo also forcing a fumble. Sophomore Colan Shue (Theresa, N.Y.) finished with 2.5 sacks, a fumble recovery, a pass breakup and seven total tackles.

            After a scoreless first quarter, Plymouth took the lead with an 80-yard touchdown drive on just six plays. The big play in the series was a 50-yard DeMarco pass to Brooks to the Cortland 26-yard line. Mack rushed for a combined 21 yards on the next two plays and DeMarco's 5-yard scoring run capped the drive with 10:32 left in the half. The extra point kick attempt was wide right.

            Cortland quickly responded with a four-play, 61-yard drive, ending with a Giuliano 30-yard touchdown run. Jeffrey Lang (Dryden, N.Y.) made the PAT kick and the Red Dragons led 7-6. Cortland's next drive started at midfield after an 11-yard Plymouth punt. Miles connected with Hajnos on a 10-yard pass on 3rd-and-9 to keep the drive alive, then found Hajnos on a deep post pattern on the next play for a 39-yard touchdown and a 14-6 Cortland lead with 4:27 left in the half. Lang added a 32-yard field goal with 17 seconds remaining before intermission to give the hosts a 17-6 advantage.

            Cortland added to its lead on its first drive of the third quarter. Miles completed a six-play, 53-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown pass to Lane and the Red Dragons led 24-6. Plymouth drove into Cortland territory on the next possession, but Bryan Wiley (Thousand Islands, N.Y.) forced a DeMarco fumble that Berman recovered inside the 20-yard line.

            The final Cortland touchdown came in the fourth quarter on just one play after the Red Dragons held the Panthers on downs. Miles threw a short pass to Guaragno, who proceeded to elude a few tacklers and race in just inside the left pylon for a 35-yard touchdown with 11:06 left.

            Plymouth State finished the scoring with a 13-play, 71-yard drive that resulted in a 21-yard touchdown pass from DeMarco to Brooks with 4:42 on the clock.

            Both Miles and Giuliano set Cortland single-season records during the contest. Miles has passed for a school-record 2,493 yards this fall and Giuliano increased his rushing total to a school-best 1,436 yards. Miles is also second on Cortland's career charts with 42 touchdown passes. Giuliano extended his school single-season record to 22 touchdowns scored and is fourth in career rushing at 2,390 yards.

            Mack finishes the season for PSU with 1,779 rushing yards in 12 games. The Panthers were making their fourth NCAA tournament appearance and first since 1995. 

(Courtesy of Cortland Sports Information) 

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