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Defense dominates as football wins Courage Bowl XV

by Paul Cifonelli - Sports Editor
Tue, Oct 8th 2019 03:00 pm
Junior Lawrence Jenkins and sophomore Ben Marshall team up to make  tackle in the Courage Bowl on Saturday, Oct. 5. Brockport won Courage Bowl XV 17-0 at St. John Fisher.
Junior Lawrence Jenkins and sophomore Ben Marshall team up to make tackle in the Courage Bowl on Saturday, Oct. 5. Brockport won Courage Bowl XV 17-0 at St. John Fisher.

Anything can happen in a rivalry game. Those games are primed for upsets and crazy finishes. For The College at Brockport football team, its biggest rival is St. John Fisher College. The two teams took part in the Courage Bowl on Saturday, Oct. 5, Brockport’s sixth appearance in the game.

The Courage Bowl is an annual event that benefits Camp Good Days and Special Times. Camp Good Days and Special Times is a camp for children with cancer and their families. During the preseason, both teams take a trip to the camp to spend a day with the children. For Courage Bowl XV, some of those children were honorary coaches and cheerleaders on the sidelines for both Brockport and St. John Fisher. However, once the game started, Brockport’s defense took center stage.

St. John Fisher had success offensively throughout its first four games. The Cardinals scored 30 points in three of their first four games, including a 38-35 loss to #11 Ithaca College. The only time St. John Fisher did not reach that mark was in a 23-6 victory over Buffalo State.

That productive offense was stymied by the Golden Eagle defense, which looked a lot like last year’s record-breaking unit. For the second time this year, Brockport got a shutout performance from its defense in a game where the offense was not clicking.

The 2018 defense allowed less than zero rushing yards per game and the 2019 defense gave a similar performance on the big stage. St. John Fisher was held to -3 rushing yards and 138 passing yards. The Cardinals were only able to convert 10 first downs and two of those were via Brockport penalties. The Golden Eagles also forced two turnovers. Freshman defensive back Raylins Boutin forced and recovered a fumble while senior defensive back Alaan Montgomery intercepted a pass and ran it 22 yards before being tackled.

The battle on the lines was also won by Brockport’s defense. There were constantly white jerseys in the Cardinals’ backfield and the Golden Eagles racked up nine sacks and 12 tackles for loss. Senior linebacker Alex West led the way with two and a half sacks, while sophomore linebacker Ben Damiani, freshman linebacker Joel Atuahene, junior linebacker Andrew Covais, sophomore defensive lineman Jordan Harris and senior defensive lineman Allassane Coulibaly all added one sack. Coulibaly and Harris in particular had constant pressure on the quarterback and clogged up lanes for the Cardinals’ running backs. Coulibaly saw something in the opposing offensive line that allowed him to be successful all game.

“I saw them stepping toward me on every play,” Coulibaly said. “I knew if I crossed face and worked my way to the face of the quarterback, like [defensive] coach [Mike] Fox always told me, I knew I’d make the play.”

Brockport head coach Jason Mangone noticed Coulibaly’s and Harris’ contributions during the game after being backups in 2018.

“It’s just awesome because you have a senior in Allassane and a sophomore in Jordan Harris, so you have the old and the young,” Mangone said. “Allassane has worked hard to get himself as a full-time starter. He was a reserve for a little bit last year although he played a lot. To see him do well and to see Jordan Harris, who was a highly-recruited kid and has done nothing but what we thought he would do, we’re pretty excited about both of those guys.”

While the defense takes a lot of praise for the victory, the offense put up all 17 of its points in the first half. Sophomore running back Jala Coad opened the scoring with a two-yard touchdown run. Coad finished the game with 75 rushing yards on 24 carries. Freshman quarterback Freddy June scored the other touchdown on a 34-yard run on a broken play. June went 8-17 passing for 98 yards. Junior wide receiver Imhotep Cromer caught three of June’s eight completions and hauled in a 40-yard pass. Senior wide receiver Joseph Ortiz did not catch a pass and remains tied for the program’s catches record.

When the clock expired in the fourth quarter, Brockport came away with its third consecutive Courage Bowl victory, this one by a score of 17-0.

Brockport’s next game is against Hartwick College on Saturday, Oct. 12 at noon. The Golden Eagles sit at 4—1 headed into the matchup.

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