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St. Bonaventure beat Buffalo 26-5 Friday night in the first game of the Empire Conference season. The Bonnies led 11-0 at halftime and jumped out to a 16-0 lead before yielding a try.

Buffalo put pressure on St. Bonaventure, but the Bonnies’ defense stayed patient and turned away what could have been more scores.

“We were pretty happy with the defense,” said St. Bonaventure coach Clarence Picard. “UB actually challenged our line a few times and the guys just hung in there and kind of just went through the phases and forced them to make a mistake. We were able, for the most part, to keep the out of the try zone, which was positive.”

Captain and loose-head prop Alex Brussard had a productive night, punching in a try from five meters out off of a 10-meter lineout, setting up another try with a weak-side run before dishing to Kevin Walker and accuracy from the lineout.

Picard was also impressed with the play from sophomore flyhalf Shea Raff.

“He didn’t do anything spectacular, but he controlled the game and made sure we got our defense over the line,” said Picard. “His only regular A-side experience came in the playoffs last year, so he’s been stepping up for us, which is nice.”

St. Bonaventure lost the Empire final to Stony Brook last year but was in line to be considered for an at-large berth. In lieu of potentially having to travel to Northern California for the Sweet 16, the Bonnies pulled themselves from consideration. But make no mistake, St. Bonaventure is aiming to reach the postseason this time around.

“We really wanted to get there last year. Stony Brook really deserved to win that championship game, but our unquestioned goal is the playoffs,” said Picard. “We’re not looking ahead, we’ve got a big game against Brockport, but we’re always trying to fight for a playoff spot, so it’s nothing new.”

St. Bonaventure  26
Tries: Brussard, Corley, Walker
Cons: McCorry
Pens: MCorry (3)