Defense Scores Twice as Football Defeats Saint Vincent, 38-14, in 2018 Opener
ITHACA, N.Y. - The Ithaca College football team earned a 38-14 season-opening victory against Saint Vincent College on Saturday afternoon at Butterfield Stadium, as the Bombers forced five turnovers and scored two defensive touchdowns. For the 20th time in the past 21 seasons, Ithaca will begin the year with a 1-0 record. The two defensive scores marks the first time since 2000 that the Bombers defense accomplished that feat, and the first time ever that it occurred on a pair fumble recoveries. In 2000 at home against St. Lawrence, Tom Kenney and Mark McDonough returned interceptions for touchdowns. It was also the first time since 2015 that the IC defense scored on a fumble recovery (Jordan Schemm vs. Union). The Bombers received the opening kickoff of the game, but on the second pass of the day by sophomore Wahid Nabi, the Bearcats' Antiwon Battle intercepted the throw and returned the ball 57 yards down to the Ithaca 3-yard line just 1:23 into the contest. Two plays later, Saint Vincent punched in a 3-yard run from Mike Stasko to take a 7-0 lead. Ithaca would punt on its ensuing possession, but the defense forced its first turnover of the day as senior Pat Minogue fell on a loose ball to give the Bombers' offense possession at the Saint Vincent 35-yard line with 9:56 to go in the quarter. IC was unable to move the chain on the possession and turned the ball over on downs. Saint Vincent took over at its own 26, and moved up the ball up towards midfield, but on a 3rd-and-9, senior Jovonte Long corralled an interception at the IC 10 to keep the score at 7-0 with just over six minutes to go in the quarter. On the first play after the sudden change, Nabi found sophomore Andrew Vito for a 24-yard gain. The Bombers then converted a 3rd-and-2 on a 5-yard run by junior Nick Cervone to continue the drive. Nabi then connected on three straight passes to move IC all the way down to the Bearcats 13-yard line on completions to Vito (12 yards), senior Anthony Capozzi (14 yards) and sophomore Matthew Hoffman (nine yards). The drive stalled there and freshman Brian Fallon put the Bombers on the board with a 30-yard field goal at the 2:51 mark to cap off an 11-play, 77-yard drive. IC took the lead for good on the next Saint Vincent possession as senior Brian Gill scooped up a fumble and rumbled 28 yards for a touchdown to give the Bombers a 10-7 advantage with less than a minute left in the period. In the second quarter, the Bombers began their first possession at their own 21 with 12:19 on the clock. After an offensive penalty on the first play from scrimmage, Nabi found junior Will Gladney for 20 yards and a roughing the passer penalty tacked on 15 more to spot Ithaca at the Saint Vincent 41-yard line. Nabi would be sacked on the ensuing snap, but then completed a pass to Vito for 22 yards. Junior Kendall Anderson followed up with a 21-yard run down to the 1-yard line and junior Isaiah D'Haiti capped off the drive with a touchdown to increase Ithaca's lead to 17-7. The Bombers quickly scored again as Minogue picked up another fumble and scampered 34 yards on the second play from scrimmage by the Bearcats to build IC's lead to 24-7, which would be the eventual halftime score. Junior Nick Garone forced the fumble by jarring the ball loose from Stasko. In the second half, Ithaca punched in another touchdown midway through the period as Nabi hit sophomore Hayden Frey over the middle, and Frey outran the defense for a 45-yard touchdown to make the score 31-7 with 7:15 to go. After a three-and-out by Saint Vincent, Ithaca marched 85 yards on 10 plays to build the largest lead of the game at 38-7 with 23.7 seconds on the clock. Three straight Cervone runs started the drive and moved the sticks. On first down, Nabi hit Vito for a 17-yard gain, but the play was called down on penalty. Now facing 3rd-and-17, Nabi once again connected with Vito over the middle for 25 yards, and a targeting penalty whistled on Saint Vincent move the ball to Bearcat 41. The drive continued on another third down conversion on a 10-yard completion to Gladney. Two plays later, Nabi and Gladney hooked up again for a 27-yard touchdown catch as Gladney overpowered his defender into the end zone. Saint Vincent capped off the scoring on a 33-yard touchdown pass with under four minutes remaining in the game to account for the final score of 38-14. Ithaca outgained Saint Vincent, 412-172, in the contest as 281 yards came through the air and 131 on the ground. IC also recorded 23 first downs and was 6-of-14 on third down conversions. Offensively, Nabi was 20-for-36 through the air for 281 yards and two touchdowns. Vito hauled in five receptions for 98 yards, while Gladney added 60 yards on four grabs and a score. The lone catch for Frey went 45 yards to the house. Cervone rushed eight times for 46 yards, while Anderson tallied 36 yards on four touches. On the other side of the ball, Minogue led all players with nine tackles, to go along with the two fumble recoveries, a touchdown and pass breakup. Gill added seven tackles, 1.5 sacks for 14 yards and the touchdown. Garone also notched a fumble recovery to go along with five tackles, while eight other players recorded four tackles in the win. Fallon was a perfect 5-for-5 in extra points to go along with his 30-yard field goal. The Bombers are back at home next Saturday, September 8 at 1 p.m., as the Bombers host No. 6 Brockport.