With freshman quarterbacks, league football cheers at Buffalo State

SCHENECTADY – The league’s senior defensive end Jack Flanagan admitted he was anxious ahead of Saturday’s Liberty League opener against Buffalo State.

He was thinking of his younger brother Patch, a freshman about to make his college debut for the Dutchman.

“I think it’s the most nervous I’ve ever played in the game, and I’m not even nervous for me,” Flanagan said. “I was nervous for him. But he played well. He played his game, I trusted him, the whole team trusted him, he played well.”

Playing in place of injured starter Donovan Packart, Flanagan completed 10 of 17 passes for 114 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-0 win over Buffalo State, in Homecoming and Family Weekend at Frank Bailey Field in front of 4,720 people.

Senior running back Ike Irabor added 129 rushing yards and two points for the league (4-1 aggregate, 1-0 league), rebounding from a 31-24 home loss to Utica a week ago. The Dutchman controlled the game well until senior Pacatte from Cobleskill injured his non-throwing shoulder late in the first half and Utica went unanswered for 24 in the second half.

Wearing a T-shirt and shorts with his left arm in a suspender, Packart watched the game from the sidelines on Saturday. It’s a little surprising to start going to Patch Flanagan, since he’s not even listed on the depth chart. Senior Stratton Sherman from Schuylerville is listed as the starter, with junior Kyle Bicho as a backup.

“(Flanagan) just had a better week,” explained league head coach Jeff Behrman. “We had three guys competing and he just had a better week. Tuesday and Wednesday were our heavier practice days and we decided to go with him on Thursday.”

Berman stressed that when Packart is healthy enough to return, he will be the starter.

“It’s like this every day now,” Bellman said. “There is progress… We will definitely get him back.”

The league got the kickoff, and Patch Flanagan led the team for a 75-yard touchdown. His first pass was a 12-yard pass to Garrett Cafaro at the 3 and 6. Flanagan then scrambled for 14 yards on the third and 9 to keep the drive that ended with Irabor’s 4-yard touchdown.

“It did make me a little bit nervous and got me into it,” Flanagan said. “I went from there.”

The league broke the game with two touchdowns with seven seconds left in the late first quarter.

The league extended its lead to 14-0 on Flanagan’s first touchdown pass, a 15-yard pass from Nicholas Dunnemann with 16 seconds left. It was a nice touch and throw to the right corner of the third and ninth end zones.

Buffalo State (0-4, 0-1) suppressed the subsequent kickoff as the league resumed. Patch Flanagan then threw a 28-yard touchdown to Andre Rose Jr., who came back with a steal on the left side of the end zone with 9 seconds left in the quarter for a 21-0 lead.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen this week,” said Flanagan of Madison, Connecticut. A native whose nickname is short for Patrick. “It’s the first time I’ve had a real rep in a while. So it’s good to be racing again, but it feels good.”

Jack Flanagan added 1 1/2 sacks in front of a crowd that included their parents, grandparents and another brother.

Granted, the convincing victory came from a struggling Buffalo State program that lost its 18th straight game. But that gives the league something to build on going into St. Petersburg. Lawrence next Saturday.

“We bounced back well as a team,” Irabor said. “We always talk about turning the page, but we want to keep that (Utica) loss feeling and bring it to this game because we know we can’t let it happen again.”

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