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Football falls flat in season opener

by Paul Cifonelli - Sports Editor
Tue, Sep 10th 2019 10:00 pm
Junior wide receiver Alex Benson gets tackled after reeling in one of his eight catches by two Hobart players during Brockport's 33-7 loss.
Junior wide receiver Alex Benson gets tackled after reeling in one of his eight catches by two Hobart players during Brockport's 33-7 loss.

After two consecutive undefeated seasons, The College at Brockport football team had some of its flaws exposed. Brockport has been the gold standard for teams in the East region the past few seasons. With a record of 24—2 over the 2017 and 2018 seasons, a target has been placed on the backs of the Golden Eagles. Hobart College saw the target and took aim, taking advantage of every mistake Brockport made on Saturday, Sept. 7, defeating the reigning Empire 8 champions 33-7. 

Brockport’s offense, normally prolific and game-changing, did not help the cause in the season opening game. Senior quarterback Jason Hellwig, in his first career start, had a tough time handling Hobart’s defense. While he did throw a touchdown pass to sophomore running back Jala Coad in the first quarter, Hellwig threw four interceptions in the first half before being replaced by sophomore quarterback Keion Jones in the middle of the third quarter. Hellwig was sacked seven times during his stint. Jones faced lots of pressure, tossing an interception on his first attempted pass. Jones settled in after being picked off, completing six of 14 passes for 47 yards. Freshman quarterback Freddy June took Jones’ place in the fourth quarter after being used as a rushing quarterback for individual plays earlier in the game. June’s first taste of collegiate action saw him go 2-for-5 for 39 passing yards while also racking up 16 rushing yards on six attempts. 

Hobart’s defense was stout throughout the game despite allowing 330 total yards. Brockport committed six turnovers, five interceptions and one fumble, giving the Statesmen good field position throughout the game. While most of Brockport’s offensive struggles could be pinned on Hobart’s ball-hawking defense, Hellwig feels a lot of the problems were internal. 

“They had a few blitz packages, but ultimately I think the main issues were self-inflicted, regardless of who was responsible for them,” Hellwig said. 

The defense, which was on record-breaking levels in the 2018 season, appeared to have taken a step back. The Golden Eagles have not allowed 33 points since defeating SUNY Cortland 52-38 on Sept. 30, 2017. Despite allowing a lot of points to Hobart, they only surrendered 191 total yards. Only 44 of those yards were rushing yards over on 26 attempts. 

The positive stats do not go much farther than that, as Hobart quarterback Ryan Hofmann only threw 13 incomplete passes. Hobart also benefited from good field position on most of its scoring drives, which did not allow for total yard to accumulate. 

Sophomore defensive back Ben Marshall, who recorded one pass break up during the game, recognized they faced some difficulties stopping Hobart and they had their backs up against the wall. 

“The biggest challenge was when Hobart was in the red zone,” Marshall said. “We’ve got to get better down in the red zone, plain and simple. But Hobart had a good game plan. They were able to get the ball out quickly and they were fortunate with some good field position.” 

Moving forward, Brockport will no longer have the weight of an undefeated season hanging on its shoulders. However, Brockport fell from its preseason ranking of 13th in the national poll after the loss. The team is unranked for the first time since the 2017 season and did not receive a vote in the Week 1 poll. The climb back into national relevancy could be quick, as the Golden Eagles will welcome in another team looking to garner votes next week. 

Framingham State University will be the next team to take on the Golden Eagles. Brockport’s home opener is also a rematch from last season’s playoffs. The Golden Eagles took down Framingham State 40-27 in the first round of the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Brockport suffocated the Rams’ explosive rushing attack in the last meeting, but with a new cast of characters on each side, anything can happen. 

The Golden Eagles and Rams will meet on Saturday, Sept. 14 at 12 p.m. at Bob Boozer Field. 

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