Tonawanda News — BUFFALO — Jerry Boyes has won a healthy amount of football games in upwards of two decades as head coach of Buffalo State College’s football team.
After the Bengals’ 7-6 upset win over the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the nation’s top-ranked team and three-time defending national champions, at career win No. 102, the Tonawanda resident has since reconsidered his favorite.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have experienced a number of tremendous victories over the years,” Boyes said. “Overall, for the program, it’s certainly the top victory in our history and probably the best I’ve been a part of.”
The Bengals came from behind to stun the Warhawks on Saturday after marching down the field to score the game-winning touchdown with three seconds remaining, ending the national powerhouse’s 46-game win streak.
“As soon as we saw th3 extra point go through, we all kind of lost it,” Kyle Shreve, junior offensive lineman and member of North Tonawanda’s 2009 Class AA state championship team, said. “This win means so much to us and so much for the program. There isn’t one person out there outside of this team – including Whitewater – who thought we could win this game. It’s huge.”
Following a Casey Kacz touchdown pass to receiver Ryan Carney, all Buffalo State needed to complete the improbable upset was to add the extra point.
Former Grand Island kicker Nate Benoit took the honors.
“I was pretty confident at that point,” Benoit said. “I knew if I thought about it too much I would get nervous, so I just told myself I had to kick it, the same way I’ve done a thousand times. I was so excited just to get out there and kick.”
Earlier in the game, Benoit missed two field goals — a pair of 38-yarders in the first and third quarters — that would have rendered the Bengals’ improbable comeback and Benoit’s final extra point meaningless.
But Buffalo State’s defense did its best to take the pressure off its kicker, holding the Warhawks, consistently among the nation’s top rushing offenses, to just 132 yards on 43 carries and 311 yards of total offense.
Benoit said the kick, with due respect to the crowning moment of his high school career, has become by far his greatest highlight.
“It’s not even close,” Benoit said. “Back then, that was for me. This kick was for my team – I couldn’t let them down. I was so excited just kick it, because I knew it would mean my team just beat the No. 1 team in the nation.”
The Warhawks have not only won the past three Stagg Bowl titles, they’ve competed in the championship game each of the past seven seasons, becoming one of the most dominant Division III programs in recent history.
Buffalo State’s win shocked the country and has subsequently catapulted the program back into national relevance. The Bengals are ranked No. 19 in the latest D3Football.com poll and No. 24 in this week’s American Football Coaches Association national poll for the first time since 2000.
While it’s hard to imagine a bigger accomplishment for the 2-1 Bengals, there are still seven games to be played before the team can truly justify the win. Buffalo State will host Alfred University for its first taste of Empire 8 conference football Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
Senior offensive lineman Dom Fraterrigo, a 2009 graduate of Kenmore East, said this is just the beginning of the team's run, with many important games still to be played.
“Obviously the win is so great for Buffalo State football,” Fraterrigo said. “We accomplished something – it’s the biggest win in school history. But we have Alfred U coming up this weekend and we’re going to take it one game at a time from here.”