The Ithaca College football team fended off a second-half rally by SUNY Cortland to retain the Cortaca Jug for the third straight year with a 32–20 victory.
The Bombers took an early lead on the opening possession of the contest. Ithaca ran 13 plays, chewing up more than six and a half minutes off the clock, and took a 7–0 lead on a one-yard touchdown run by quarterback Joe Germinerio.
Cortland did not put its first points on the board until the beginning of the second quarter when running back Zach Tripodi the ball into the end zone from six yards out. The Bombers blocked the extra point attempt as the Red Dragons trailed 7–6.
Later in the quarter, Ithaca orchestrated another lengthy drive – 15 plays over a span of 8:19 – capped off with another one-yard touchdown run by Germinerio to extend its lead with 1:55 left in the first half. Kicker Nicholas Bahamonde missed the extra point, so Ithaca settled for a 13–6 advantage.
With a little a little less than two minutes on the clock, the Red Dragons looked to put some more points on the board before halftime. On first and 10 with ball on Cortland’s 45 yard line, quarterback Brett Segala completed a 25 yard pass to Cole Burgess on the right sideline, but Ithaca defensive back Khiry Brown ripped the ball out of Burgess’s hands and returned it 24 yards to Cortland’s 46 yard line, setting one last scoring chance for the Bombers before the half.
Ithaca took over possession with 1:15 left and drove the ball down to the Red Dragon’s 10 yard line, where Germinerio ran the ball into the end zone with nine seconds left for his third rushing touchdown of the half. Bahamonde’s extra point attempt was blocked as Ithaca entered halftime leading 19–6.
After Cortland went three-and-out to start the second half, the Bombers began their first drive of the half from their 46 yard line. Kendall Anderson came up a yard short on third down and two as Ithaca faced a fourth and one situation from the Red Dragons’ 23 yard line. The Bombers elected to go for it, and chose to take the air on the fourth down attempt. Ithaca’s gamble paid off when Germinerio connected with Will Gladney near the left side of the end zone for a touchdown.
Trailing 26–6, it appeared as if Ithaca was set on cake walking past Cortland. However, the Red Dragons’ were not ready to throw in the towel just yet. With about two minutes left, Cortland began a drive from its own 12 yard line. On the first play, Segala tossed the rock deep and connected with Jason Carlock for an 80 yard pass, moving the chains all the way down to Ithaca’s eight yard line. Two players later, Tripodi ran it in from two yards out as the Red Dragons trimmed the Bombers’ lead in half at 26–16.
Ithaca put together another long drive at the start of the fourth quarter, but the team came up empty after Bahamonde missed a 28-yard field goal attempt.
Cortland took over on its own 20 yard line, and after a trio of questionable pass interference calls against Ithaca, the Red Dragons eyed narrowing the gap some more with the ball on the Bomber’s 42 yard line. A 24-yard pass from Segala to Burgess set Cortland up with a first and goal situation. On second and goal, Tripodi received the handoff and found the end zone for the third time in the game, as the Red Dragons trailed 26–20 with about seven minutes left.
With the momentum shifting towards Cortland’s side, Ithaca looked to silence the Red Dragons’ rally. Starting on their own 22 yard line, the Bombers were able to move the ball up to Cortland’s 46 yard line, facing a third and six situation. Following a timeout by the Red Dragons, Germinerio took the snap, faked the handoff to Donte Garcia, who was running to his right, faked the reverse handoff to Austin Hedglen and fired a deep ball to an open Andrew Vito for a 46-yard touchdown to put Ithaca up 32–20.
Cortland had three minutes to score at least 12 more points, but on its next drive Segala threw a pass to an open receiver, who could not come up with the ball cleanly. Trying to gain control of pass while falling to the ground, the ball rolled off the receiver’s foot into the air, whereupon defensive back Anthony Robinson secured the ball for the interception to eventually seal Ithaca’s victory.
Germinerio ran the ball 34 times for 159 yards and three touchdowns. He also completed 21–27 passing attempts for 251 yards and two scores. Vito was the squad’s leading receiver, catching 12 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown. Will Gladney caught four passes for 59 yards and a touchdown.
For Cortland, Tripodi ran the ball 17 times for 61 yards and three touchdowns. Segala completed 13 of 27 passing attempts for 191 yards and one interception. Carlock caught four passes for 123 yards.
Along with his strip of Carlock, Brown was Ithaca’s leading tackler with nine total tackles in the game. He also broke up two passes. Nick Garone gathered six total tackles, broke up a pass and blocked a kick. Miles Haynes collected collected five total tackles and broke up a pass. Robinson posted four total tackles along with his game-sealing interception.
Gregory Alfieri made 15 total tackles and recorded a half a sack. Both Paul Imperiale and Dylan Dubuque tallied 13 total tackles. Stone Murray compiled six total tackles and blocked an extra point attempt.