Trio of Big Games in the Empire

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Article written by Pat Clifton and published on Friday, 13 September 2013.

There’s a full slate of games in the Empire this weekend, as St. Bonaventure hosts Brockport, Kings Point travels to Iona, Rutgers visits Buffalo, Stony Brook heads to Syracuse and Binghamton welcomes Fordham.

No matchup is more intriguing than Brockport versus St. Bonaventure. These teams tied for first in the conference last season, and both have no marks in the Empire loss column yet this season. St. Bonaventure won last season’s contest 29-19.

St. Bonaventure is coming off of a loss, however. The Bonnies fell 33-27 to Wheeling Jesuit on a last-second try last weekend. Brockport is coming off of a season-opening win, 22-13, over Kings Point. Whoever wins Saturday becomes the early favorite in the Empire.

Perhaps the second-most intriguing match sees Kings Point try to improve to 2-1 against Iona. The United States Merchant Marine Academy is 1-1 after falling narrowly to Brockport and upsetting Buffalo by 24 points. Having finished last in the conference last season, Kings Point has nothing to lose against Iona.

But if USMMA is going to get the win, it’ll have to avoid an early deficit. Against Brockport, Kings Point fell 18-0 behind and couldn’t make up the ground. Against Buffalo, Kings Point started in a 10-0 hole.

“They play with a nastiness, and we have to try and contain that,” said USMMA coach Ali Nazir of Iona. “And if we play our game, which is just body blows in which we compete heavily until their side lets up, then we can take the game.

“We have to come out aggressive, just like they do, because they will be aggressive. We have to meet them right there, and we have to take the fight to them. We can’t be in the same position we’ve been in the last two games – behind and trying to come back.”

Stony Brook versus Syracuse is a battle between 1-0 teams. Last week, the Seawolves beat Fordham 33-20 and Syracuse downed Rutgers 18-5. Stony Brook won last year’s meeting with Syracuse 32-18, and while the Orange respect their opponents, they aren’t counting themselves out.

“They’re clearly a very strong back team. Their backs move the ball well, can kick and chase and can make points come from line breaks and off loads quite well,” said Syracuse’s John Daly.

“I think our team has to focus on getting double tackles almost every single play, stopping that offload so they can’t break the line, get a secondary offload and score a try through their backline. I think our forward pack is going to have to take charge in the scrums in the lineouts, which they’re definitely capable of doing. I think it will have to be a pretty big team effort.”