Every year, the third Friday in December is considered to be National Underdog Day.

Some of the most memorable moments in sports history have come when the underdog --- a competitor thought to have little chance of winning a fight or contest --- does the unthinkable, and defeats the heavy favorite. The 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, the 2004 Boston Red Sox and the Moneyball-era Oakland Athletics are just a few of the countless examples that spring to mind when you think about an underdog.

This past Friday, on 2023's National Underdog Day, a new hero was born, as a Central New York-based football team did the unthinkable.

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SUNY Cortland Upsets North Central in "Game of the Year" Candidate

In a game that became an instant classic, the Red Dragons of SUNY Cortland upset the reigning Division III national champions, North Central (IL), to win their first national championship in program history.

Here are the highlights from Friday's game:

The final score was 38-37, with the difference in the game being a failed two-point conversion by the then-undefeated Cardinals of North Central. Kicking a field goal would've tied the game at 38-all, while a two-point conversation would've given them the lead with little time remaining.

The attempt failed, and moments later, SUNY Cortland was celebrating their first national title in the 130-year history of the program.

Players and Coaches Shared Their Thoughts After the Game

Check out the comments from the team in their postgame press conference:

A few notes on the team's QB, Zac Boyes, via CNY Central:

  • Named the MVP of the game
  • Threw for five touchdowns
  • Became just the second quarterback in school history to throw for over three hundred yards and run for a hundred more in the same game

Also of note, wide receiver tandem Joe Iadevio and JJ Laap combined for three touchdowns in the win, according to the report.

Fans Came Out in Packs to Welcome SUNY Cortland Back to Campus

As one would expect, this championship run has an impact that was widespread. It impacts the local community, the current student body, and the deep network of proud alumni at SUNY Cortland.

Don't believe me? Check out the welcome that the team received upon returning home:

Here's another look:

It was truly an incredible weekend in Central New York. Congratulations, Red Dragons!

Ten Times Capital Region Sports Teams Won Their League's Title

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Gallery Credit: Dan Bahl

These Seven Super Bowl Champions Have Capital Region Ties

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