CORTLAND, N.Y. (CORTLAND ATHLETICS) –

Jaden Alfanostjohn (Westhampton/Westhampton Beach) rushed for 247 yards and a touchdown and Cole Burgess (Greenwich) caught two touchdown passes as Cortland defeated visiting Morrisville, 28-7, in the Empire 8 opener for both teams.

Cortland ranked 11th nationally by the AFCA and 14th by D3football.com, improved to 4-0 overall. Morrisville suffered its first loss of the season and is now 4-1.

Alfanostjohn averaged 6.7 yards per carry on his 37 rushes. His 247 yards are tied for the third-highest rushing total in a game in school history. Andrew Giuliano ran for 281 yards at Morrisville in 2008 and 247 yards at home versus Morrisville in 2007, and Dave Cook rushed for 276 yards versus St. Lawrence in 1983.

Cortland finished the game with 461 yards of total offense, including 303 rushing yards. In addition to Alfanostjohn, Ashton Capone (Saratoga Springs) carried seven times for 30 yards and a touchdown and quarterback Zac Boyes (Buffalo/Kenmore West) had 10 carries for 28 yards (the Red Dragons took a knee on the final play for a 2-yard team rushing loss). Cortland limited Morrisville to 209 yards of total offense and held a 38:24-21:36 time of possession advantage.

Boyes completed 16-of-23 passes for 158 yards and the two TD passes to Burgess, who ended with three catches for 62 yards. Rashad Tucker (Freeport) caught five passes for 44 yards. Zack Thuesen (New Fairfield, CT) led the Red Dragon defense with nine tackles, seven solo, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. Devin McArthur (Saratoga Springs) finished with seven tackles and a fumble recovery.

Omar Jarvis led Morrisville’s defensive unit with nine tackles, all solo, and a pass breakup. Anai Brake and Ernesto Mitchell also totaled nine tackles apiece, and Mitchell intercepted a pass. Morrisville quarterback Steven Frerichs was 13-of-29 passing for 130 yards and a score and ran for a team-high 45 yards. Joey Chirurgi caught three passes, one for a score.

On Morrisville’s first possession of the game, Thuesen forced a fumble after a completion that McArthur recovered at midfield. The Red Dragons scored six plays later on a Boyes 11-yard TD pass to Burgess and Cortland led 7-0 with 7:20 left in the first quarter. Cortland’s next possession started on its own 32-yard line with 4:17 left in the first quarter and Alfanostjohn accounted for the Red Dragons’ first 57 yards (48 rushing, nine receiving) over the next 10 plays. Three plays later Burgess made a leaping catch at the left side of the end zone for an 11-yard TD and the lead was 14-0 at the 12:40 mark of the second period.

Cortland missed on two chances to extend that margin before halftime. The Red Dragons had the ball at the Morrisville 19-yard line before a 19-yard sack by David Kelly forced Cortland to punt, and right before halftime Cortland drove from its own 20-yard line to the Morrisville 30, but a Mike Baloga (Cornwall/Marian Catholic (PA)) 47-yard field goal hit off the left upright on the final play of the half.

Cortland went up 21-0 midway through the third quarter on an 8-play, 47-yard touchdown drive. Seven of the plays were Alfanostjohn rushes, the last an 8-yard run to paydirt on 3rd-and-4. The Red Dragons’ ensuing drive went from their own 9-yard line to the Mustangs’ 9-yard line but ended when Philemon Benjamin tipped a pass that Mitchell intercepted in the end zone. Cortland’s final score was Capone’s 6-yard TD run to close an 11-play, 78-yard drive.

For the second straight game Cortland saw its bid for a shutout end in the final minute. Morrisville’s closing drive started at its 37-yard line and ended on Frerichs’ 5-yard TD pass to Chirurgi with 43.4 seconds remaining.

Cortland will travel to Brockport next Saturday for a 1 p.m. Empire 8 matchup.