November 27, 2013

Hobart, Fisher square off in other's backyard

More news about: Hobart | St. John Fisher
Steven Webb had another strong game on Saturday, including ripping off a 58-yard touchdown run on the first snap of the second half.
Hobart athletics photo by Greg Searles

By Joe Sager
for D3sports.com

Backyard football games are a tradition for many during Thanksgiving week.        

For St. John Fisher and Hobart, they’ll take that to a new level when they clash Saturday, Nov. 30, at noon on the Statesmen’s home turf at Boswell Field.

However, these two geographic rivals – located about an hour apart in Upstate New York – have more than territorial bragging rights are on the line. The winner advances to the Division III quarterfinals.

“It’s the playoffs, so every game is pretty important. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” Fisher’s Mike Guinta said. “It’s pretty cool it turned out this way. We’ve played Hobart in the past. They know us pretty well, too. It’s a neat situation. It definitely makes it more of a rivalry game. We played John Carroll last week and we didn’t really know too much about them.”

Even though the two programs play in different conferences, there is a familiarity for the personnel and coaches.

“My boy from home goes to Fisher. He plays safety (Ryan Ballard). There is a kid (Brandon Fuentes) from Avon I used to play against in high school who is on defense. There are some familiar faces,” Hobart running back Steven Webb said. “It’ll be a Round 3. I played them my freshman and sophomore years and we went 1-1. This is the tiebreaker. It’ll be exciting.”

The close proximity is a bonus for both squads, too. Instead of a long bus ride, the Cardinals merely have to make the short trek to Hobart.

“It’s definitely more convenient to be about an hour away, especially with the weather conditions getting worse. We don’t mind a shorter trip,” Fisher’s Sean Preish said. “It’s definitely a little more personal with the close proximity and we know some of the guys and they know us. A playoff game is a playoff game, though. Both teams have their backs up against the wall.”

In addition to the rivalry, both sides expect a challenging game. The teams are coming off strong first-round victories. Fisher (9-2) went on the road to upset John Carroll, 25-16, while the Statesmen (10-0) rolled past Gallaudet, 34-7. 

“It is great that two of the top teams in the East moved on; to be playing in the Sweet 16 is a great feeling because there are so many talented players on both sides,” Hobart coach Mike Cragg said. “This matchup is really neat and the guys are excited for it.”

St. John Fisher quarterback Tyler Fenti is well-known to Hobart coach Mike Cragg. By first name, in fact.
St. John Fisher athletics photo 

The Cardinals rallied from a 13-0 deficit against John Carroll to earn the upset win.

“Our kids felt good about themselves. They hung in there and persevered,” Fisher coach Paul Vosburgh said. “It’s always tough to win on the road, especially against a good opponent like John Carroll.”

Fisher gained Hobart’s attention by forcing six turnovers and scoring 25 points against John Carroll, which boasted D-III’s top scoring defense.

“First of all, Coach Vosburgh does a great job. That defense has been coming up with a huge amount of turnovers, both fumbles and interceptions. They’ve been doing a really good job at that,” Cragg said. “Offensively, with (quarterback) Tyler (Frenti) and all the weapons they have, they are a very good football team on both sides of the ball. I expect a great game.”

The Cardinals’ defense has emerged as a force. Over the past three games, the unit has produced 15 turnovers. That’s a huge point of concern for the Statesmen.

“We have stressed that to anyone who controls the ball this game. They’re going to be looking to strip it, especially if the bad weather keeps up because that makes it easy to fumble,” Webb said. “Ball control will be a big key part to the game.”

Guinta has been one of defensive ringleaders. Against John Carroll, the senior defensive back recorded his fifth interception in his last six games.

“I am just doing whatever I can to help the team win,” he said. “Turnovers are a big deal for us. We have a little game where we have to get 5 turnovers in practice. If you win the turnover battle, you’re more likely to win the game so we do stress that.”

Guinta is part of an all-new starting secondary for the Cardinals.

“We didn’t have anyone returning in our back five. They are kind of just getting settled in,” Vosburgh said. “I think our defensive coaching staff is doing a great job. I think they have jelled together. We’re not doing anything special, but we’re just playing good football right now.”

Fisher’s defense faces another challenge in Webb and the Statesmen. Last week, Webb continued to his running mastery. He racked up 161 yards on the ground. His three touchdowns gave him 20 on the year, which is a program record.

“We game planned like we have all season. Our coaches stress a body on a body and it’s what our linemen do the best. If they can just keep a body on a body and not allow penetration, we will most likely win the game,” he said. “Once when we start getting the running game going, we can go to the air. We just did what we’ve been doing all season and we don’t plan on stopping. Hopefully, it’ll continue.”

The Statesmen got a scare when junior quarterback Patrick Conlan, a son of former NFL standout Shane Conlan, left last week’s game with an injury.

“He is back. He’ll be fine. He sprained an ankle,” Cragg said. “We gave him a couple of days off and he’ll be ready to go.”

Preish, who had a career-high 21 tackles against John Carroll, two shy of the program record, knows the Cardinals face a tough test.

“The 24-hour rule was in play with that win. It was a great win, but we’re looking ahead .We don’t want to focus on the past too much,” he said. “Hobart has a good offense. They are good up front. They have an underrated quarterback and receivers, but their running back (Webb) is their focal point. We know we have a challenge this week. We’re up for it. We can’t ask for more coming from an at-large berth. We just wanted a shot at the tourney. We got all we can ask for right now.”

Both teams were happy to see Ithaca, which plays in the Empire 8 with Fisher, advance to the Sweet 16 as well.

“I heard from a lot of people that the East was down,” Cragg said. “To have three in the Sweet 16 is pretty nice. It shows there is very good football in the East.”

The squads hope to put on a good display Saturday.

“This is a great time to be playing football and it’s always great to practice on Thanksgiving morning,” Vosburgh said. “It should be a great atmosphere. I think the people that do go to the game will enjoy it.”

Sep. 23: All times Eastern
Final
at Bridgewater State 34, Fitchburg State 25
Box Score
Sep. 24: All times Eastern
Final
Christopher Newport 17, at TCNJ 0
Final
at Hobart 27, Union 23
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Final
at Thomas More 20, Carnegie Mellon 16
Box Score Recap
Final
at Massachusetts Maritime 32, Worcester State 14
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Final
at Endicott 37, Nichols 0
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Final
MIT 30, at Maine Maritime 13
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Final
at Buffalo State 40, Morrisville State 24
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Final
at Salve Regina 48, Coast Guard 10
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St. Lawrence 20, at RPI 14
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Final
at Framingham State 23, Western Connecticut 17
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at Montclair State 21, Rowan 14
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Final
at Stevenson 54, FDU-Florham 15
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Final
at Trinity (Conn.) 38, Bates 7
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Final
at Western New England 59, Curry 28
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at Utica 24, Cortland 13
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Colby 9, at Williams 7
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Final
at Middlebury 40, Bowdoin 3
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at Amherst 34, Hamilton 0
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Kean 24, at William Paterson 13
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Final
at DePauw 66, Hiram 17
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Franklin and Marshall 45, at Juniata 22
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at Kenyon 31, Allegheny 7
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Salisbury 35, at Southern Virginia 0
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Albright 20, at Delaware Valley 17
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Lycoming 28, at Misericordia 24
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at Plymouth State 30, Mass-Dartmouth 14
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at Husson 35, Alfred State 0
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at Springfield 28, WPI 23
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at Moravian 24, Dickinson 10
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at Denison 45, Wooster 7
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at Wittenberg 24, Wabash 14
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at St. Vincent 57, Grove City 32
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at Susquehanna 55, Gettysburg 40
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at King's 21, Lebanon Valley 17
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at Alfred 20, Ithaca 6
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at Widener 25, Wilkes 23
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at McDaniel 30, Ursinus 27
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Final
at Muskingum 28, Marietta 10
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Final
at Minnesota-Morris 28, Iowa Wesleyan 27
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at John Carroll 42, Heidelberg 14
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Final
Ohio Northern 16, at Otterbein 10
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Final
Case Western Reserve 35, at Waynesburg 7
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at Franklin 44, Bluffton 38
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Rose-Hulman 23, at Defiance 15
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at Centre 49, Chicago 27
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at Mount St. Joseph 38, Manchester 19
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Final
Hanover 49, at Anderson 25
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at Merchant Marine 55, Rochester 7
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Final
Johns Hopkins 30, at Muhlenberg 24
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Final
Concordia-Chicago 42, at Maranatha Baptist 10
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Final
Washington U. 36, at Birmingham-Southern 21
Recap
Final
UW-Platteville 56, at Lakeland 0
2:00 PM
Martin Luther at Northwestern (Minn.)
Final
at Eureka 28, MacMurray 13
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4th - 03:07
14 Greenville
35 Westminster (Mo.)
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
Dubuque at Luther
Video Live Stats
Final
Monmouth 52, at Lake Forest 6
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Final
St. Thomas 33, at St. John's 21
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Final
at Augsburg 49, Carleton 17
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Final
Bethel 44, at St. Olaf 7
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Final
at Hamline 42, Gustavus Adolphus 40
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Final
at UW-Whitewater 35, Morningside 21
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at Hardin-Simmons 48, Texas Lutheran 38
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Final
at UW-River Falls 42, Southwestern 22
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Simpson 17, at Buena Vista 9
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Final
at St. Scholastica 49, Crown 13
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2:00 PM
Cornell at Beloit
Video Live Stats
Final
at Carthage 27, Augustana 24
2:00 PM
Coe at Nebraska Wesleyan
Live Stats
Final
at Wartburg 56, Finlandia 0
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at Wheaton (Ill.) 10, Elmhurst 6
Final
Hendrix 42, at Millsaps 14
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Illinois Wesleyan 45, at North Park 10
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at Macalester 34, Grinnell 0
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2:00 PM
Knox at Ripon
Final
Illinois College 40, at Lawrence 15
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UW-Oshkosh 77, at Morthland College (Ill.) 0
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Final
Central 42, at Loras 34
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3:00 PM
Thiel at Geneva
Final
UW-Eau Claire 40, at Wisconsin Lutheran 14
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4th - 15:00
21 St. John Fisher
28 Brockport
Video Live Stats Audio
4th - 09:10
44 UW-Stevens Point
19 Adrian
Video Live Stats
4:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at Carroll
Video Live Stats
6:00 PM
Sewanee at Berry
Video Live Stats Audio
6:00 PM
Westminster (Pa.) at Bethany
6:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Oberlin
Video Live Stats
2nd - 09:58
7 Wesleyan
3 Tufts
Video Video Preview Live Stats
1st - 11:12
0 Mount Union
0 Baldwin Wallace
Video Preview Preview Live Stats Audio Audio
7:00 PM
Wilmington at Capital
Video Preview Live Stats
7:00 PM
Austin at Southwestern Assemblies
Video Preview
7:00 PM
Langston at McMurry
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Millikin at North Central (Ill.)
Video Live Stats Audio
10:00 PM
Trinity (Texas) at Chapman
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Sep. 24: All times Eastern
Final
at Thomas More 20, Carnegie Mellon 16
Box Score Recap
Final
at Hobart 27, Union 23
Box Score
Final
Christopher Newport 17, at TCNJ 0
Final
at Wittenberg 24, Wabash 14
Box Score
Final
Salisbury 35, at Southern Virginia 0
Box Score
Final
Albright 20, at Delaware Valley 17
Final
at Utica 24, Cortland 13
Box Score
Final
at Stevenson 54, FDU-Florham 15
Box Score Recap
Final
at Franklin 44, Bluffton 38
Box Score
Final
Johns Hopkins 30, at Muhlenberg 24
Box Score
Final
St. Thomas 33, at St. John's 21
Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at UW-Whitewater 35, Morningside 21
Final
at Hardin-Simmons 48, Texas Lutheran 38
Box Score
Final
at Wheaton (Ill.) 10, Elmhurst 6
Final
UW-Platteville 56, at Lakeland 0
Final
UW-Oshkosh 77, at Morthland College (Ill.) 0
Box Score
Final
Central 42, at Loras 34
Box Score
4th - 15:00
21 St. John Fisher
28 Brockport
Video Live Stats Audio
1st - 11:12
0 Mount Union
0 Baldwin Wallace
Video Preview Preview Live Stats Audio Audio
7:00 PM
Millikin at North Central (Ill.)
Video Live Stats Audio