The Jug Stays in Ithaca; Football Downs Cortland, 24-21
CORTLAND, N.Y. – For the second consecutive season, the Ithaca College football team defeated SUNY Cortland in the annual Cortaca Jug Game, as the Bombers took down the host Red Dragons, 24-21, in the 60th edition of the rivalry at the SUNY Cortland Sports Complex on Saturday. With the win, Ithaca is now 8-2 on the season, while Cortland falls to 7-3. The rivalry brings its own intensity to the contest, but prior to today's matchup, a steady snow storm rolled through Cortland and coated the field as the teams were warming up. It appeared that the 60th Cortaca Jug would be played in near white out conditions, but the skies cleared for a majority of the contest. The only weather factors both teams had to deal with throughout the game were occasional snow flurries, steady winds from 10-15 miles per hour and frigid temperatures. Ithaca won the coin toss and elected to defer to the second half. Cortland would pick up one first down on its initial drive but was forced to punt. After three-and-outs for both teams, which included a school record 67-yard punt by senior Pat Minogue, the Bombers manufactured a 12-play, 69-yard drive, which ended on a one-yard touchdown run by junior Kendall Anderson to give the Bombers a 7-0 lead with 5:30 to go in the first quarter. On the drive, Anderson started things off with three straight carries for 20 yards, and a 15-yard facemask was tacked on after the third carry. Two plays later, sophomore Wahid Nabi connected with classmate Andrew Vito for 18 yards down to the Cortland 14-yard line. Rushes by Anderson (five yards) and Nabi (six yards) spotted the ball at the four-yard line. Ithaca took two cracks at the end zone on the ground, but were unable to score, and then went to the air. The pass was intercepted, but Ithaca retained possession on an offsides call on Cortland. Now facing fourth-and-goal at the half-yard line, Anderson plunged in on a toss to give IC an early advantage. On the ensuing drive, Cortland was forced into another three-and-out. The Bombers continued their early momentum as Anderson rushed for 19 yards on three totes to start things off. After a first down sneak by Nabi, he hit Vito for 23 yards down to the Cortland 24-yard line. On the next snap, Nabi rolled right, directed traffic and found sophomore Hayden Frey in the back corner of the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown connection to increase Ithaca's lead to 14-0 with 2:04 left in the first quarter. Cortland appeared to solidify a drive on its next possession as a Brett Segala pass to Nick Anderson went for 24 yards, but the play was brought back on an ineligible player downfield. The Red Dragons regrouped and picked up a first down but were then flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct foul to end the first quarter. Now facing fourth-and-23, the Red Dragons were unable to dig out of the hole and had to punt. The Bombers answered with a 32-yard completion from Nabi to Vito just two plays later to spot the ball at the Cortland 25-yard line, but the drive ended as Nabi was intercepted at the Cortland 35 after a holding penalty on IC. Once again, Cortland could not move the ball and punted it back to the Bombers. On the first play from scrimmage, Anderson rushed for three yards, but 15 more was added on as Cortland was flagged for a personal foul. A 16-yard completion to Vito move Ithaca inside Cortland territory, and then two 15-yard penalties on the Red Dragons pushed the ball down to the 12. Ithaca stalled out there and had to settle for a 34-yard field goal try, but the attempt sailed right to keep the score at 14-0 with 5:20 to go until halftime. Cortland would move into IC territory after the miss, but an intentional grounding call on second-and-eight bogged down the drive. A nine-yard punt staked IC to great field position, and the Bombers capitalized, and they took just three plays to build their lead to 21-0 on a 17-yard touchdown grab by junior Will Gladney with 1:44 to play. Anderson started off the drive with a 13-yard run and then Nabi connected with Gladney for 21 yards to set up the score. Cortland closed out the half with a touchdown on a seven-play, 73-yard drive in just 56 seconds. A pair of completions for 11 and 12 yards moved the Red Dragons up to midfield. Then, a 12-yard strike spotted Cortland at the IC 37, but a sack-fumble by senior Marc Barbieri brought the ball back to the 42. After Cortland called timeout, the Red Dragons found the end zone on a 42-yard completion from Segala to Nick Anderson with 43.1 seconds left in the half to make the score, 21-7, Ithaca. Ithaca outgained Cortland, 219-176, in the first half and benefitted from 92 yards on 10 penalties by the Red Dragons. The Bombers started with the ball in the second half but went three-and-out. After an 18-yard punt, Cortland took over at the Ithaca 41-yard line and went for it on fourth-and-eight, but junior John Hadac came up with a 13-yard sack to bring the IC offense back on the field. IC would pick up 13 yards on the drive before a punt rolled through the end zone. Cortland was once again unable to push the ball down the field and had to punt back to IC, but the Bombers took over in terrific field position, as Minogue blocked the punt to start the Bombers' next drive at the Red Dragon 44-yard line. Anderson once again proved his merit in the contest, as he took three straight carries for a total of 30 yards down to the 14-yard line. From there, the Bombers could not move any closer and freshman Brain Fallon increased Ithaca's lead to 24-7 on a 29-yard field goal with 2:08 on the clock. The Red Dragons immediately answered with a 65-yard touchdown run by Johnnie Akins on the first play from scrimmage to pull back to within a 24-14 difference. On the kickoff, Cortland recovered the onside kick, but was flagged for offsides and kick-catch interference, which thwarted a possible momentum swing. Ithaca ran out the third quarter clock on three runs and had to punt after flipping sides of the field. That punt would only travel 13 yards, and the Red Dragons got right back into the game with a six-play, 34-yard drive, which was capped off by a nine-yard run by Segala to pull Cortland to within three points and 24-21 with just under 12 minutes left in regulation. Two punts ensued, and the Bombers attempted to put the game away on their next drive. Starting at its own 30 with 7:03 to play, Ithaca methodically moved the ball down the field. An 11-yard completion to Vito moved the sticks. On the next play, IC was flagged for 15 yards to set up a second-and-25 at the IC 44. Nabi's pass fell incomplete to Vito, but a pass interference call gave the Bombers a new set of downs. Before the next snap, Cortland was once again flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct and the spot moved to midfield. Junior Isaiah D'Haiti continued the drive with a nine-yard catch to chew more time off the clock. Now facing third-and-12, Nabi used his feet to pick up 15 yards on a draw to once again continue the drive. D'Haiti would pick up nine on the next play, and a sneak by Nabi gave Ithaca its sixth first down of the drive. With 1:43 on the clock, the Bombers rushed to the right side for five yards but fumbled the ball over to Cortland at the 12-yard line. The Red Dragons marched back on the field with 1:34 to play for a potential game-tying or game-winning drive. On first down, Segala was sacked by senior Patrick McNeeley. Cortland rushed to the line for the next snap and gained five yards on an illegal substitution by IC. An incompletion set up third-and-10, and the next Segala pass was intercepted by senior Ryan Bronson to end the game and give Ithaca a 24-21 victory. The win for Ithaca improves its Cortaca Jug record to 36-24 and moves its all-time series record to 41-33-1- over Cortland. IC finished the contest with 358 yards of offense to 282 for Cortland. Despite allowing 21 points on the defensive end, the Bombers still held Cortland to 20 points below its season average. Nabi threw for 209 yards and two touchdowns on 13-of-21 passing, while Anderson recorded his third straight 100-plus yard game on the ground with 115 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown. Vito led the receivers with 110 yards on five catches, while Gladney added 47 yards on four grabs. Frey's lone catch was on the touchdown and Anderson added 22 yards on one reception. On the defensive side, senior Ralf Silva led the charge with eight tackles (five solo). Junior Nick Garone added seven tackles and a sack for 13 yards, while Bronson finished with seven stops and the pick. Minogue added six tackles and two blocked punts on the day. Seniors RJ D'Amico and Brian Gill each had five tackles. Senior Aaron Francis made two tackles to go along with two pass breakups, and classmate Brien Pacholec notched four tackles. The Bombers will find out tomorrow night at 5:30 p.m. if they earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Championship.