The nationally-ranked St. John Fisher College football program
won its Empire 8 Conference season-opener for the
10th consecutive year on Saturday, as the Cardinals rallied in
the fourth quarter to earn a 38-35 win over visiting Frostburg
State University on Saturday at Fisher's Growney Stadium.
With the win, Fisher, ranked No. 19 in both the latest D3football.com and AFCA poll, improves to 4-0 for the third time in the last four years, while Frostburg falls to 1-3.
Fisher's Ryan Kramer totaled 293 all-purpose yards, including 187 on five kickoff returns. Fisher enjoyed great field position throughout the day with five of its six touchdown-drives starting inside Bobcat territory.
Fisher enjoyed a 31-20 lead going into the fourth quarter, but the Bobcats rallied, marching 70 yards on nine plays with Antonio Wood scoring on a 12-yard pass from Ken Emmons with 12:32 left. Just 1:16 later – after Fisher lost a fumble at its own 40 – the Bobcats came right back and made it 35-31 with Mike Fourth scoring on a 6-yard run.
Kramer returned the ensuing kickoff to the Frostburg 41 and
after seven consecutive rushes, Cody
Miller scored his third touchdown of the day on a 9-yard
run with 7:48 left. Frostburg had two more possessions
to take the lead or tie the game, but the Fisher defense hung tough
and didn't allow the Bobcats into Fisher territory.
Frostburg took the early 7-0 lead with Emmons scoring on a one-yard run, but the Cardinals came right back with quarterback Tyler Fenti scoring on a 12-yard run, capping a 29-yard drive.
Frostburg made it 13-7 with 2:54 left in the first quarter as Percy Haskin scored on a 1-yard return on a blocked punt by teammate Marcus Moody. Fisher answered with Miller scoring on a 1-yard run, ending a six-play, 63-yard drive in the closing moments of the first quarter.
A 27-yard field goal from Brendan Carey made it 17-13 late in the first half, but neither team was able to score before the break, despite having golden opportunities.
On a 2nd-and-10 play from the Fisher 14 with just over two minutes left in the half, Fisher's Brandon Fuentes intercepted a pass at his own 8 and scampered down the right sidelines, but was chased down near the Frostburg goal-line and fumbled out of the back of the endzone, resulting in a touch-back.
Frostburg nearly drove the length of the field on the ensuing possession, but with less than five seconds left in the half, Shacori Riddick was stripped at the Fisher 1 by Mike Donitzen and the Cardinals recovered.
Kramer returned the opening kick of the second half 66 yards and four plays later, Miller scored from 11 yards out. The Bobcats answered with a big special teams play of their own, as Haskins spun free for a 43 yard return into Fisher territory and Janai Billips scored on a two-yard plunge to make it 24-20 with 9:54 left in the third.
Fisher regained the two-score advantage in the closing moments of the third quarter with Nathan Nigolian scoring on a 21-yard pass from Fenti . The drive was set up inside the Frostburg 40 after defensive lineman Mason Judd came up with an interception.
Miller finished the game with 92 yards on 23 carries, while Fenti, who was 17-for-27 for 161 yards passing, rushed 12 times for 52 yards. Kramer caught a team-best six passes for 67 yards and ran nine times for 39 yards.
Defensively, Sean Preish made a team-high 11 tackles, including two sacks. Donitzen finished with nine stops and broke up a pass on Frostburg's final offensive play of the game. Senior Mike Guinta also intercepted a pass in Fisher territory and returned it 27 yards.
Fisher will return to action at 2 p.m. next Saturday at Hartwick College. The Hawks are 4-0 overall and 1-0 in the Empire 8 Conference after beating Ithaca College 21-9 today.