ITHACA, NY -- The Top 25 showdown and Liberty League football opener between No. 15/17 Ithaca College and No. 21/23 Hobart College lived up to the billing, as Ithaca rallied to defeat Hobart, 28-21, at Butterfield Stadium during Alumni Weekend on Saturday. Ithaca improves to 4-0 on the season, while Hobart falls to 4-1. IC is now 17-0 all-time on South Hill against the Statesmen.
On Saturday, Ithaca honored the 51st Hall of Fame class, which was inducted Friday evening. IC also celebrated the 30th anniversary of the 1991 national championship team, who was in attendance.
The Bombers took a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter, but Hobart closed out the first half with a touchdown with just eight seconds left. The Statesmen then put up 14 third quarter points to establish a 21-14 lead, with the latter at the 5:09 mark in the quarter. IC tied the contest at 21-21 with 2:31 to play in the third and then scored the eventual game-winning touchdown with 8:54 left in regulation.
After a scoreless opening 15 minutes, IC cracked the scoreboard just 1:19 in the second quarter on a 27-yard run by A.J. Wingfield to cap off a 10-play, 73-yard drive. Just over four minutes later, Jalen Leonard-Osbourne increased IC's lead to 14-0 with a leaping 8-yd rushing touchdown as the Bombers capitalized on a short field (26 yards) after a 29-yard interception return by Anthony Robinson.
The play prior to the interception, Ben Stola notched a strip sack that resulted in a loss of 10 yards to stick Hobart with a 2nd and 20.
After trading punts, Hobart took over with 1:38 left in the half at its own 19-yard line. The first play from scrimmage went for 38 yards on a pass from David Krewson to Alex LaBella. A few plays later, Hobart converted on third down with a 15-yard pass play and the Krewson set up the Statesmen with a goal-to-go situation on a 12-yard run. Two plays later, Hobart found the end zone on a 6-yard run by Tim Denham Jr. to head into the half trailing 14-7.
It was an even first half all around, as the Bombers held a slim edge in yardage, 166-159.
The Statesmen then knotted the game at 14-14 on their first drive of the second half on a 10-play, 75-yard drive, which was capped by an 11-yard catch by Rayshawn Boswell.
IC was then forced to punt from the Hobart 39-yard line and pinned the Statesmen back to their own 8-yard line. After two short gains, Denham broke off a 19-yard run on third down, and on the ensuing snap, Boswell raced 70 yards to the house to put Hobart ahead, 21-14.
Ithaca answered on its next possession as Jalen Hines scored from six yards out with 2:31 on the block. The Bombers used a 22-yard completion to Julien Deumaga, followed by a 22-yard run by Hines to sit just outside the Hobart 10. On the next play, Hobart was flagged for offsides and then Hines rumbled in for the tying score.
Early in the fourth quarter, Ithaca had a chance to take the lead but missed a 37-yard field goal in the opening two minutes.
The Bombers defense would hold strong and kept Hobart in its own territory and were forced to punt down to the Ithaca 22-yard line with 9:56 on the clock.
IC's offense trotted back onto the field and quickly flipped the field as Wingfield connected with Michael Anderson for a 44-yard gain down to the Hobart 30. A snap later, Wingfield hit Andrew Vito for a 30-yard score down the middle of the field to put the Bombers back on top, 28-21.
Hobart had two more chances to tie the game back up as the Statesmen marched all the way down to the IC 14-yard line on the next drive, but turned the ball over on downs after a Krewson pass in the end zone was broken up by Derek Slywka with 2:21 left.
Trying to run out the clock, IC was unable to pick up a first down on the next drive and punted the ball back with 1:00 to go.
The Statesmen threatened once again with a 13-yard strike on the first play from their own 44 and then a 27-yard catch two plays later to move down to the IC 16. After a spike and incomplete pass, Hobart faced 3rd-and-10 with eight seconds left. Krewson faced heavy pressure on the snap, fumbled but regained possession and had to scramble to keep the play alive. He would be tackled by Isaac Hadac on a hard hit along the IC sideline to end the contest after a 1-yard gain.
Hobart outgained the Bombers, 414-346, and were 7-of-14 on third downs. The interception and two turnovers on downs proved to be costly for the Statesmen. Hobart rushed for 191 yards and passed for 223, while Ithaca racked up 125 yards on the ground and 221 through the air.
Wingfield was extremely efficient on the day, completing 17-of-21 attempts for 221 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for the opening score of the contest.
Hines rushed for 89 yards on 21 carries, while Anderson caught five passes for 86 yards. Vito finished the game with 69 yards on five grabs and Deumaga hauled in three receptions for 45 yards.
On the defensive side, Hadac and Miles Haynes paced the Bombers with nine tackles each. Haynes also notched a sack on an intentional grounding call. Stola added seven tackles, a sack and forced fumble, while Ed Longest also finished with seven tackles.
The Bombers travel to Rochester next Saturday, October 9 for a 12 p.m. kickoff.
This story was originally published by Ithaca College Athletics.