ALFRED, NY - The Erie Community College Kats lost their second straight close road game to Alfred State 35-34. The Kats had two chances in the final 18 seconds to take the lead but failed to convert. On a positive note, quarterback Connor Simmons (New Palestine, IN / New Palestine) would set an ECC school season record on passing yards and completions during the game.
Simmons finished 23 of 54 for 274 yards and three touchdowns to break the record today. Currently, Simmons has 118 completions for 1,218 yards. This breaks the old records held by David Barry who had 100 completions for 1,106 yards back in 2008. Simmons is also five touchdown passes away from breaking the ECC season record for passing touchdowns of 12, set by Mike Currie in 2003.
As for the game, the Kats continued their slow start in road games as they quickly fell behind 7-0 after surrendering a 18-yard touchdown pass less than two minutes into the game. That would turn out to be the only score in the first quarter as neither team would even generate any scoring chances the rest of the quarter.
The second quarter would see the Pioneers take a 13-0 lead after the Kats surrendered another long touchdown early in the quarter. It would take until the final 43 seconds of the first half before the Kats would get on the board off of a Simmons 5-yard touchdown pass to Shannon Hightower (Youngtown, OH / Ursaline). The Kats would head to halftime down 13-7.
The second half would be a battle of quarters between the Pioneers and Kats which included a flurry of activity. In the third quarter, the Kats struggled offensively and gave up 15 unanswered points on defense, falling behind 28-7.
Like the last road game, the Kats would save their best for the fourth quarter. They wasted little time as just over a minute into the fourth quarter Simmons ran for a 20-yard touchdown. It would be quickly followed by a 62-yard run by the Pioneers. The Kats would score the final 21 points of the game as they made their final push.
Simmons would add another 5-yard run to answer the Pioneer score and less than two minutes later Ben Koch (Lakeview, NY / Frontier) would catch a 6-yard pass from Simmons to bring the score to 35-28. This would leave 7:40 on the clock for the Kats to make one final run. The defense would make two stands giving the chance two opportunities to make one last score.
With 18 seconds left, Tahj Dennis (Jacksonville, FL / First Coast) would finally convert. He caught a 10-yard pass from Simmons bringing the score to 35-34. Unfortunately for the Kats, they received two penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct which backed them up to the 33-yard line for the extra point. The conversion would be missed.
The Kats would get one final chance after they recovered the on-side kick with 15 seconds left. After a few plays by Simmons to bring the ball into Pioneer territory, the Kats would attempt a 49-yard field goal but would miss it wide right.
Leading rusher for the Kats was Simmons who rushed 11 times for 57 yards and Charles Fuller (Arlington, VA / Washington Lee) who rushed 13 times for 29 yards. Marcus Carter (New Castle, PA / New Castle) led the Kats in receiving with four catches for 62 yards and Dennis added 60 yards on four catches as well.
On defense, Brandon Cannon (Auburn, AL / Auburn) finished with nine total tackles and added on fumble recovery. Brent Fox (Homer, NY / Homer) added eight tackles and two sacks.
The Kats (1-6) will host Onondaga Ogres at Jim Ball Stadium Saturday Oct. 26 at 1 p.m.