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Football's dreams end prematurely

by Paul Cifonelli - Staff Writer
Wed, Nov 28th 2018 10:00 am
The College at Brockport football team will be losing 23 seniors after they played their last game at home against the Rochester Polytechnic Institute Engineers. The Golden Eagles finished the season at 11—1, two wins behind last year's record.
The College at Brockport football team will be losing 23 seniors after they played their last game at home against the Rochester Polytechnic Institute Engineers. The Golden Eagles finished the season at 11—1, two wins behind last year's record.

The great thing about college sports is that anything can happen. The games are played by 18 to 22-year old college students who are fueled by emotion. Once the playoff season comes around, emotions run high for athletes. On a cold and rainy November afternoon, those emotions worked against The College at Brockport football team.

Brockport did not have its typical intimidating presence when it took the field for its NCAA tournament game against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. From the first snap, RPI was locked in and appeared hungry for an upset.

After each team’s first drive ended in a punt, Brockport quarterback Joe Germinerio threw an interception that was returned to Brockport’s 12-yard line. That drive ended in a missed field goal, a major break for the Golden Eagles. After another failed drive, Brockport punter Eric Yaeger had his punt blocked and returned to Brockport’s three-yard line. RPI running back Nick Cella punched it in on the next play to give the Engineers a 7-0 lead.

Germinerio’s rough day continued on the following drive, as he fumbled inside RPI’s 20-yard line. Brockport’s defense bailed him out as they got the ball back and the offense delivered. The long drive ended with Germinerio connecting with wide receiver Joseph Ortiz for a touchdown. After the PAT was unsuccessful, Brockport’s touchdown song, “Freaks” by Timmy Trumpet, blared throughout the stadium. RPI’s players were dancing to the music on the sideline and on the field, which set off the Brockport bench. For the rest of the half, RPI did not get a first down. Germinerio connected with Ortiz one more time to give Brockport a 13-7 lead at halftime.

Halftime arrived right when RPI needed it most. It allowed the Engineers to take their time to settle back in after the rain stopped and gain their composure. Despite the bitterness of a brisk wind, the Engineers rebounded and marched down the field. 

Quarterback George Marinopolous found wide receiver Keaton Ackermann for an 18-yard touchdown pass. That score gave the Engineers a 14-13 lead and also proved to be the game-winner.

RPI produced another long drive to start the fourth quarter, which ended in a touchdown after a controversial pass interference call on Brockport defensive back Rashad Baker. Cella recorded his second touchdown of the game a few plays later.

Brockport put together a drive toward the end of the game, but it stalled at RPI’s 10-yard line. When the clock hit zero the Brockport Golden Eagles, the third ranked team in the country, was on the losing side of a massive upset, 21-13.

After the game, Brockport head coach Jason Mangone labeled the problem immediately.

“We were not very good offensively,” Mangone said.

The offense stalled and turned the ball over all game. Germinerio, an All-American last year, had a miserable day. He was 11-33 with 94 passing yards. He had two touchdown passes, but also had two interceptions and two fumbles. Germinerio’s poor day was almost salvaged by sophomore wide receiver/running back Tyree Brown, but he too coughed up a late fumble in enemy territory. Germinerio was a major key to Brockport’s season, but his performance on Saturday was his second game with four turnovers, which may have cost him a shot at being a repeat All-American.

Germinerio and Brown committed five of Brockport’s six turnovers on the day. Yaeger’s blocked punt is the sixth turnover, but the team also had two turnovers on downs.

The defense was good yet again, but not as dominant against RPI’s ground attacks. Brockport only allowed 244 yards of offense, but allowed 102 rushing yards. While most teams would love to only allow 102 rushing yards, Brockport’s defense had not allowed that many rushing yards in a game all year. The game was controlled by defense, but RPI’s offense made less mistakes than Brockport’s.

Despite the tough loss, Brockport’s football future is still very bright. Germinerio, Brown and Ortiz all return on offense. Running backs Zach Samborski, Jala Coad and Joe Benedict were all freshmen this season. The defense is graduating a lot of starters, but some will return. Junior linebacker Alex West, sophomore defensive back Lawrence Jenkins and sophomore defensive lineman Josh Greenwood will anchor next season’s defense. Senior defensive back Matt Arita is very confident in the program’s future.

“I’m so proud for this program and to see where this is going to go,” Arita said. “The sky’s the limit and we made the final four last year and I know with coach [Mangone] and all our staff leading the way, I know they’re going to finish the job. They’re going to win the whole thing once.”

While Brockport’s season did not end how  the team planned, it is a season that will go down in the history books. Between a record-setting defense and a normally-productive offense, this iteration of Brockport football is one that neither the school or community will forget for a long time.