Football earns first-ever national title in thriller

Football earns first-ever national title in thriller

12/15/2023 

SUNY Cortland’s football team capped the most successful season in program history with the ultimate prize: its first-ever national championship trophy.

The Red Dragons won the 50th Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl in thrilling fashion, 38-37, over previously unbeaten and top-ranked North Central College (Ill.), snapping a 29-game winning streak for the Cardinals. The national championship took place Dec. 15 at Salem Stadium in Salem, Virginia, and was broadcast live on ESPNU and ESPN+.

North Central was the defending Division III national champion and had established itself as the nation’s premier Division III football program over the past five years, bringing a 56-2 record into the game since the start of the 2019 season.

In a game that featured two prolific offenses, the Cardinals took a 7-3 lead into halftime before a back-and-forth second-half shootout that saw 65 points scored, three lead changes and three ties. North Central scored a touchdown on a 60-yard pass to cut Cortland’s lead to 38-37 with 1:20 to play, but the Red Dragons stopped the ensuing two-point conversion and protected the ball to secure the win.

Cortland junior quarterback Zac Boyes was sensational, completing 26-of-34 passes for 349 yards and five touchdowns. He also ran for 123 yards on 16 attempts. The team’s receiving corps was led by senior Cole Burgess (11 receptions for 134 yards and two touchdowns), sophomore Joe Iadevaio (eight receptions for 95 yards and two touchdowns) and senior JJ Laap (two receptions for 75 yards and one touchdown).

A full game recap is available on the SUNY Cortland Athletics website.

Cortland finishes the season with a 14-1 record, extending the program record for wins in a season. The Red Dragons entered the Division III playoffs ranked 11th nationally in the final D3football.com poll of the regular season and earned five straight wins against Top-25 opponents. Cortland also was the first school from New York to reach the Division III title game since Ithaca won the 1991 national title.

The national championship is the university’s 26th team title overall.


Purchase Championship Gear

The SUNY Cortland Campus Store has 2023 National Champions gear available for purchase.

The university’s Athletics Department also has created an online store for a limited time. Orders are due Tuesday, Dec. 26.


Support the Red Dragons

Fans can support the Red Dragon football program by making a gift that helps improve the student-athlete experience.

Consider making a gift of $38.37 as a nod to the final score of the national championship or $118 in honor of the 118th team being the first in program history to win the Stagg Bowl.


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