On a day commemorating the seniors for their long-standing athletic and academic efforts, the Lions football team had little to be proud of following a demoralizing 27-0 shutout loss to the Golden Eagles of SUNY-Brockport at home on Saturday.
This was not what head coach Eric Hamilton had in mind for the last home game of the year. “There was nothing positive to come out of the game,” he said. “It was very disappointing.”
Both squads came into the game with identical 3-5 records and no playoff hopes, but desperate to get their respective seasons back on a winning track. But it was the Eagles who played like a team hungry for a win, taking advantage of countless Lions errors.
“We had players in situations to make plays and they didn’t make them, but that’s been the story all season,” Hamilton said.
With a season-high 12 punts and an abysmal 116 yards of total offense, the Lions were as likely to put together a scoring drive as the gubernatorial candidates were of running a smear-free campaign.
Early in the second quarter, on a play that illustrated the Lions’ frustration, freshman defensive end Justin Laurence reached out and blocked an Eagles punt, but Brockport recovered the loose ball just far enough downfield to get the first down. Then they used the next three plays to put together a 59-yard drive that ended with a 12-yard touchdown run up the middle from sophomore running back Brian Wise.
“They’re a good team,” Lions’ junior wide receiver Ryan Ross said of Brockport. “They play one of the toughest schedules in the nation and they’re always going to be ready to play.”
Compounding their inability to execute offensively, the Lions did not take advantage of their opponents’ mistakes. Late in the first half, sophomore defensive back Mike Ferris bobbled a punt, allowing Brockport to recover the ball at midfield.
On the ensuing drive, however, Wise fumbled and Lions’ sophomore defensive back Sullivan Parker gobbled up the loose. He ran it back to the 20, leading the Lions to their only trip inside the red zone all game.
But on this day, the Lions had as much hope capitalizing on opportunities as the Philadelphia Eagles have in reconciling things with Terrell Owens. On the following drive, junior quarterback Chris Bell threw one of his team’s few scoring opportunities away as his pass bounced off the fingertips of Ross and landed in the hands of a Brockport defender.
“There are no excuses,” Ross said. “We just didn’t get it done.” Whether it was dropping passes or turning the ball over, the Lions did not come to play and the Eagles flew away with an easy victory.
Brockport’s freshman quarterback Zack Luke threw for 285 yards and a touchdown while Wise combined for 87 total yards and two scores.
In the third quarter, Wise capped off a 10-play, 77-yard drive by punching the ball in from one-yard out to put the Eagles ahead 17-0. Later in the third, Luke hooked up with junior wide receiver Mike Bond for a 12-yard score.
Bond finished the game with 70 yards on three catches. Junior place-kicker Adam Lanctot would add a 49-yard field goal late in the game for his second score of the day to put more salt in the Lions’ wounds.
The Lions will have one more opportunity to finish their season on a high note when they travel to Kean University next Saturday in their season-finale conference game that kicks off at 1 p.m.
The team does not underestimate the importance of its final game. “It’s more important to finish with a win,” Hamilton said, shrugging off the loss. “Our season didn’t start the way we wanted it to but maybe it can end the way we want it to.”