Running on hype, the Lions football team delivered a 28-17 win over Norwich University. Senior quarterback Bob Schurtz threw 232 yards to lead his team to its season opening victory. Schurtz became the Lions career passing yards leader, surpassing Pete Harteveld’s previous record of 3,705 (1995-97).
“If we can use this game as a starting point and get better and improve, we’ll be fine,” Eric Hamilton, head football coach, said. “If we continue to make turnovers, we can’t help but shoot ourselves in the foot for doing that.
“If there is one negative that stands out in my mind it is the penalties,” Hamilton added. “We had 10 penalties for 96 yards and that’s too many.”
At the half, when the teams were tied 7-7, Lions junior defensive back Steve Andrews returned the opening kickoff of the second half for 85 yards to give the Lions a 14-7 lead. Norwich Cadet junior kicker Rhett Soltas kicked a 36-yard field goal with 9:36 left in the third to lessen the Lions lead, 14-10.
Later in the third, senior quarterback Ben Clark drove the Cadets into Lions territory to set up an 8-yard touchdown to his brother, junior Josh Clark. The Cadets held their only lead of the game at this point, 17-14.
The Lions responded with two touchdowns, one being a 38-yard run by senior running back Jon Hedgepeth at the end of the third and a 4-yard run from Hedgepeth with 6:41 left in the fourth. Hedgepeth had 119 rushing yards on 21 carries.
During the first half, the Lions jumped out with the opening touchdown, in which sophomore wide receiver Alan Kotteles caught Schurtz’s pass from 15 yards outside the end zone. Cadet Clark made a 12-yard pass before the teams went deadlock into the half.
“I think we did some things well but we did make some mistakes having three turnovers and fumbling the ball inside the 10,” Joe Franzone, senior captain said. “A win is a win and we were happy about that,” Franzone said. “There is less room for error against a team like Cortland.”
The Lions defense had several outstanding performances. Sophomore defensive back Jon Sher picked off a pass by quarterback Clark at a crucial position on the field, the Lions two-yard line. Sher led the defense with 10 stops and an interception. Junior lineman Michael Sykes had seven stops, a fumble recovery and three sacks.
“The defense played well – we stepped it up when we had to,” Sykes said. “Cortland’s offense is strong, the quarterback was all-conference last year, so the defense will need to step it up and make some plays.”
“We were able to go up there for their homecoming weekend, which was a huge event for them and we were able to do what we needed to do,” Hamilton said.
The Lions will host SUNY Cortland on Sept. 13, at 2 p.m.