The 62nd Cortaca Jug Game at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex lived up to the hype between two nationally ranked teams as No. 13/14 Cortland eked out a 28-27 victory over No. 18 Ithaca on November 13. Cortland completes a perfect 10-0 regular season, and regains the Jugs after a four-year wait, while Ithaca finishes the year with an 8-2 mark.
Ithaca won the toss and elected to receive the opening kick. Cortland proceeded to boot the kick into the end zone and the Bombers started the drive at the 25-yard line.
IC went three-and-out, but A.J. Wingfield flipped the field with a 49-yard punt down to the Cortland 19. The Red Dragons took over with 13:40 on the clock.
Another punt from the Bombers gave Cortland possession at its own 26. The Red Dragons moved into IC territory two plays later on a 26-yard run from Jaden Alfanostjohn and used that momentum to take a 7-0 lead on a 12-yard run by Trevor Ash, off a lateral from Brees Segala, with 6:59 remaining in the first quarter.
The Bombers answered with their initial first down of the contest on third down and then Michael Anderson hauled in a 32-yard reception from Wingfield to move IC down to the Cortland 32-yard line. IC stalled at the Cortland 28-yard line, but the Bombers put three points on the board as Nicholas Bahamonde drilled a 45-yard field goal with 4:21 left in the quarter.
Cortland returned the ensuing kick 33 yards and used a bunch of chunk plays to move into the IC red zone by the end of the quarter. The Red Dragons outgained Ithaca, 144-60, in the quarter with 101 yards coming on the ground.
It took Cortland less than a minute to punch in another touchdown in the second quarter as Segala found JJ Lapp for a 7-yard completion to take a 14-3 lead.
IC got three points back on the next drive as Bahamonde connected from 25-yard out with 9:31 left in the half. The Bombers used a 34-yard kick return from Anthony D'Addetta to begin the drive at the 41-yard line. IC moved into the red zone a few plays later as Wingfield found Jacob Cooney for 13 yards and a roughing the passer penalty spotted the Bombers at the Cortland 11-yard line. IC could only gain three more yards during the drive to set up the field goal.
Cortland threatened to extend its lead late in the half as the Red Dragons moved down to the IC 26-yard line, but the drive came to an end on 4th-and-11 as Drew Brenner broke up a potential first down catch with 2:05 to go.
The Bombers reached the Cortland 39-yard line on the next drive but were sacked on third down with less than a minute to go and punted back to Cortland to end the half.
Cortland started the second half from its own 28-yard line and went three-and-out. IC responded and pulled to within a point at 14-13 with 9:17 left in the third quarter as Jalen Hines scored on 2-yard run. On the nine-play, 79-yard drive, Jake Williams broke off a 46-yard run on 3rd-and-1 from midfield to set up the Bombers at the Cortland 4-yard line. Two plays later, Hines found the end zone, to end Cortland's streak of 21 straight quarters without allowing a touchdown.
IC continued to ride that momentum and forced another Cortland, this time from in the end zone. The punt traveled 30 yards, but Cortland was flagged for illegal batting and IC took over at the Cortland 20 with 8:06 remaining in the third.
Two plays later, Wingfield put the Bombers ahead for the first time in the game on a 19-yard run with 7:12 remaining, making the score 20-14 in favor of IC.
On the next Cortland drive, Nathaniel Potts read a screen pass and intercepted Segala at the Cortland 36-yard line and returned it 27 yards down to the 9-yard line. On the next snap, Wingfield hit Dan Mason on a 9-yard screen pass to extend IC's lead to 27-14 with 5:45 on the clock.
After the touchdown, Cortland was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, spotting the ball at the 50 for the kickoff. IC tried a pooch kick and was called for kick-catch interference, giving Cortland the ball at the IC 48-yard line. Cortland then broke off a 34-yard run on the first play to get into the red zone. The Red Dragons then pulled back to within a touchdown, 27-21, as Cruz scored on a 7-yard screen pass with 3:45 left.
With 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Cortland faced a 4th-and-5 at the IC 16-yard line. Segala connected with Cruz for eight yards to continue the drive. After two pre-snap penalties spotted Cortland at the 11-yard line, Segala connected with Cruz for the go-ahead touchdown, 28-27, with 8:19 to go to cap off a 14-play, 91-yard drive. Cortland started its drive inside the 10 after a 57-yard punt by Enzo Martellucci.
Ithaca put together a long drive in response and moved down to the Cortland 25 with less than two minutes to go. The Bombers attempted a 35-yard field goal to go back ahead, but the kick was blocked by the Red Dragons with 1:51 left in the game.
Cortland picked up a couple first downs to run out the clock in victory formation to secure its first Cortaca Jug win since 2016.
The Red Dragons outgained Ithaca, 402-295, and rushed for 227 yards to Ithaca's 114. Cortland was hindered by 14 penalties for 102 yards but converted 7-of-13 third-down conversions.
Wingfield was 19-for-30 passing for 167 yards and a touchdown, while Andrew Vito and Anderson each had 41 yards receiving.
Williams rushed for 73 yards on nine carries, while Hines rushed for 39 yards and a score.
Defensively, Michael Roumes had 11 total tackles and two tackles for a loss of 14 yards. Ben Stola finished with seven tackles, while Miles Haynes had six stops. Anthony Robinson, Cade McDermott and Isaac Hadac all recorded five tackles.
On the Cortland side, Segala threw for 175 yards and three touchdowns – two going to Cruz, who finished with 96 yards. Alfanostjohn notched 20 carries for 173 yards and Segala had 50 yards on the ground.
The Bombers were dealt another blow to their playoff chances just a few moments later as RPI defeated Union, 19-17, on a field goal as time expired to win the Liberty League bid to the NCAA Championship.
This article was originally published by Ithaca College Athletics.