Cortland Battles the Elements to Defeat St. John Fisher, 22-3
CORTLAND, N.Y. - Johnnie Akins (Roosevelt) rushed for 208 yards and Cole Burgess(Greenwich) returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown as Cortland defeated visiting St. John Fisher, 22-3, in cold and rainy conditions at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex. With the victory, Cortland improves to 7-1 overall and 5-1 in the Empire 8. The Red Dragons will travel to unbeaten and nationally third-ranked Brockport (8-0, 5-0) next Saturday at 2 p.m., and the winner of that game will earn the Empire 8 title and league's automatic NCAA tournament berth. The weather conditions kept most of the offensive players from both teams in check except for Akins, who averaged 5.6 yards per carry on 37 attempts. Akins reached the 200-yard rushing mark in a game for the second time in his career; he ran for 218 yards in a home win over Hartwick last fall. Cortland held just a 5-0 halftime lead over the Cardinals (1-6, 1-4) on a Nick Mongelli(Marlboro) 33-yard field goal late in the first quarter and a safety by Kyle Richard(Lakeview/Malverne) with 5:23 left in the second quarter when he led the way on a tackle of a Fisher running back in the end zone. The safety came one play after Fisher stopped Akins for no gain on 4th-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Burgess extended the lead to 12-0 when he fielded the opening kickoff of the second half at the 3-yard line, found a seam up the right side and raced untouched for his second kickoff return TD of the season. The 97-yard return is tied for the fifth-longest in school history. Burgess returned a kickoff 95 yards for a score versus Framingham State in early September. Fisher drove 75 yards on 10 plays on its next drive, highlighted by a Malachi Duvall 37-yard run. The Cardinals had a 1st-and-goal on the 2-yard line, but gained only one yard on first down and were stopped for no gain on three straight plays. Gregory Alfieri (Hawthorne/Westlake) and Richard combined for a tackle on third down and Alfieri made the stop on fourth down on back-to-back quarterback sneak attempts. Later in the third, Mongelli connected on a season-long 41-yard field goal to push Cortland's lead to 15-0. Mongelli finished 2-for-3 on field goal attempts in the contest and is 7-for-8 this fall, with four of his made kicks covering at least 39 yards. Fisher got on the board late in the third quarter on a 63-yard scoring drive that culminated in Joe Dotterweich's 24-yard field goal. Cortland closed the scoring with a seven-play, 65-yard TD drive midway through the fourth quarter. Akins ran for 29 and 17 yards on the first two plays of the series and Brett Segala (Webster/Webster Schroeder) eventually finished the drive with a 7-yard TD pass to Alex Wasserman (Closter, NJ/Northern Valley Demarest). Alfieri led Cortland with seven tackles, including a sack and 2.5 total tackles for loss. Brandon Lewis (Monroe/Monroe-Woodbury) made six tackles and intercepted a pass and Isaac Hicks III(Staten Island/Curtis) also registered six tackles. Richard had five stops, 1.5 for loss, and Ben Tietjen (Bethlehem) finished with five tackles and an interception. Christopher Biryla and Matt Rioux intercepted passes for St. John Fisher. Cameron Bellino led the Cardinals with 13 tackles, Tony Silvanic made 11 stops and Evan Majewski rang up 10 tackles. Demarre Nelson and Rioux each had three pass breakups. Segala finished 11-of-32 passing for 147 yards with a TD and two interceptions. Wasserman caught five passes for 37 yards. Jake Smith (Albany/Guilderland) was held to one catch for 14 yards and had his run snapped of eight consecutive games with a TD reception - the second-longest streak in school history. Cardinal quarterback Joshua Michels went 10-of-26 through the air for 105 yards. Duvall ran 15 times for 64 yards and Cam Cleveland caught five passes for 20 yards. Cortland finished with a 391-206 advantage in total offense and recorded 23 first downs to just seven for the Cardinals.