Golden Eagles soar on Homecoming
By: Mike Rose
Liam O'Mara's blocked punt early in the second quarter broke the seal for Brockport and they never looked back. The Golden Eagles scored on the ensuing drive to make it 7-0 and went on to roll to a 63-0 victory over the Hartwick Hawks. The victory was the fourth straight for Brockport who now sit at 4-1 overall and 2-0 in Empire 8 play.
After a scoreless first quarter, it was Ben Gocella finding Nolan Slywka for a 7-yard touchdown to open the scoring. Two drives later, Gino Fontanarosa would scamper in from six yards out for the first of his two touchdowns in the game before scoring for the second time one drive later on a 16-yard run.
A missed field goal from Hartwick would leave 50 seconds for the Golden Eagles offense. Gocella and company marched downfield and capped off a six-play, 72-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown strike to James Altenburger to make it 28-0 at halftime. That was just the beginning for Brockport.
The Golden Eagles would tack on five more scores in the second half to push the game well out of reach punctuated by O'Mara breaking off a long touchdown catch of 49 yards. On the other side of the ball, the Brockport defense continued its suffocating play to keep Hartwick off the scoreboard. After surrendering a season-high 18 points a week ago the Brockport defense played with an extra chip on their shoulders to record the first shutout of the 2023 campaign.
"Honestly we just brought way more aggression," Brockport linebacker Ben Robinson said. "We had way more life to us and they just didn't seem like they really wanted to play with us."
"We were talking about it all week and it was something we dedicated every single practice to completely coming out here and decimating this team. Making sure that everyone knows that (last week) was a mistake and we're gonna come back firing."
Robinson certainly did his part flying all over the field to rack up a game-high 11 tackles including two for a loss, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
While Brockport's defense had been a consistent force all season the offense went through some. bumpy start. However, since Gocella took over as the starting quarterback ahead of the week three matchup with Wilkes they have not missed a beat.
Brockport tallied a season-high 268 passing yards in the win and recorded five passing touchdowns, including four from Gocella. Brockport also tallied 198 yards on the ground in the most balanced offensive output they've produced all season.
"To be able to throw the football with some confidence, it's been a thing we've been trying to get back to and I think we're finally getting there," Brockport Head Coach Jason Mangone said. We are nowhere near where we want to be but we're getting to a point where we're better than just serviceable."
"He's (Gocella) only a freshman so he's just going to continue to excel and continue to learn the offense," Altenburger said. "We take a lot of pride in running the ball but now to have that other facet of that game clicking, we're going to be really hard to stop down the road. The offense is going to get better each week I don't think many teams will be able to keep up with us, especially with our defense playing like that."
Gocella finished with a career-high 219 yards and four touchdowns while Altenburger posted 63 yards on three catches and two touchdowns. Slywka tallied six grabs for 104 yards and a touchdown, all in the first half. In total Brockport racked up 466 yards of offense while holding the Hawks to just 88 yards.
Brockport will head into their bye week tied atop the Empire 8 standings with Cortland (4-1, 2-0). The Golden Eagles will begin the home stretch of their schedule with a road trip to Morrisville (2-4, 0-2) on Oct. 21.