CORTLAND, N.Y. – Junior tailback Justin Autera rushed for 121 yards and sophomore receiver Kordel McInnis caught two touchdown passes as Cortland State edged Framingham State 20-19 in the opening round of the Division III playoffs.
Cortland (9-1), the New Jersey Athletic Conference champion, will face Wesley College (Del.) (9-1) in the second round next Saturday. Framingham State, the New England Football Conference champion, was making its first NCAA playoff showing and finishes the season 10-2.
Framingham appeared to be in position to tie the game with 3:38 left in the fourth quarter after a 3-yard touchdown run by junior Melikke Van Alstyne. The Rams had their point-after kick bounce off the left upright and trailed 20-19.
Framingham elected to squib kick on the ensuing kickoff with two timeouts remaining. Cortland started from its own 37-yard line and gained two first downs, the latter on a 4th-and-1 quarterback sneak by senior Chris Rose from the Framingham 43-yard line with 1:27 remaining, and was able to run out the clock.
Van Alstyne, who entered the game ranked ninth nationally in Division III with 142.1 rushing yards per game, finished with 227 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries. Freshman quarterback Matt Silva rushed for 27 yards but was only 7-of-23 passing for 56 yards with four interceptions.
Rose completed 15-of-30 passes for 189 yards, including a 53-yard TD pass to McInnis early in the second quarter to put Cortland up 7-3 and a 10-yard scoring pass to McInnis with 2:10 left in the third quarter that gave the Red Dragons a 17-6 lead. Junior Mike DeBole made a 37-yard field goal late in the first half, and his 23-yard field goal with 5:24 remaining gave Cortland a 20-13 advantage. He is now the school single-season record-holder with 14 field goals.
Senior wide receiver Mike Humphrey led Cortland with 10 catches for 94 yards and McInnis had four receptions for 72 yards. Autera averaged 3.9 yards per carry as the starting tailback in place of injured senior Dorian Myles.
Framingham took a 3-0 lead 10 seconds into the second quarter on a 29-yard field goal by sophomore Phil Clain. Clain also connected on a 35-yard field goal later in the quarter.
Down 17-6 to start the fourth quarter, Framingham got back in the game when junior John O’Connell returned a punt 42 yards to the Cortland 4-yard line. Van Alstyne ran in on the next play to pull the Rams within 17-12. He also appeared to rush for a two-point conversion to cut Cortland’s lead to three, but a holding call negated the play. Instead, Clain made a 30-yard point-after kick and Framingham trailed 17-13.
Freshman linebacker Troy Beddoe led Cortland with eight tackles and a pass breakup and senior defensive end Vaughn Labor made six stops, two for losses. Cortland’s four interceptions were recorded by freshman safety Andre Green (Philadelphia/Indian River), senior cornerback Pete Furey (Niskayuna), senior safety Phil Bossman (East Aurora) and sophomore cornerback Andrew Tolosi (Monroe/Monroe-Woodbury).
For Framingham, junior linebacker Pat McGrath finished with 13 tackles, 10 solo. Junior safety Kevin Donahue made seven tackles, all solo, and sophomore cornerback Ony Ramos recorded an interception and pass breakup.
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