ONEONTA, NY- The Hartwick defense had five takeaways and four sacks while holding Ithaca to just 46 yards rushing on the day as the Hawks defeated the Bombers 21-9 on Saturday afternoon at Wright Stadium. The win is the first over IC since 2007 and is Hartwick's first Empire 8 victory since 2010. 'Wick is also 4-0 for the first time since 2009.
Hartwick led 21-0 in the third quarter after defensive tackle Jason Brown (Rensselaer, NY/Rensselaer) picked up a fumble by Bomber quarterback Phil Neumann and rumbled 16 yards to the endzone. The defense had three interceptions in the game with Dante Crump (Kingston, NY/Kingston) picking off two IC passes and Jared Morrow (Ogdensburg, NY/Ogdensburg) getting one.
The Hartwick defense made its mark on Ithaca's first possession of the game. The Bombers moved to just inside Hartwick territory when linebacker Patrick Steves forced IC running back Josh Oliver to fumble and Davionne Price was there to pounce on the ball as the Hawks took over possession on its own 47 yard line with 13:07 to play in the first quarter.
The Hawks went three and out on their first series and could not take advantage of the turnover. After stalling Ithaca's next drive, 'Wick had the ball on its own 22. Quarterback John Garcia moved the offense down the field into Bomber territory. Facing a 4th and 1 at the IC 28, the Hawks elected to go for the first down but Garcia would be sacked for a loss of eight yards and the ball went back to Ithaca. IC could not take advantage of the opportunity and after a punt the Hawks got the ball back.
Hartwick had possession to begin the second quarter. Garcia had completion of 19 yards to Frankie Molina (Middletown, NY/Middletown), 18 yards to Tanner Williams (Eagle Bridge, NY/Hoosick Falls), and 13 yards to Williams to give the Hawks the ball at the IC 28 yard line. From there, Garcia found Molina near the back of the end zone for the score and with Alexander Tesoriero's (Great Neck, NY/Great Neck South) extra point, Hartwick was ahead 7-0 with 12:21 showing on the clock.
After another Ithaca punt, 'Wick started at its own 35 yard line. Running back Kurtis Ahart (Spencer, NY/Spencer Van Etten) ran for 32 yards on the drive to move Hartwick to the IC eight yard line. The drive stalled and the Hawks were denied an opportunity to increase its lead as Tesoriero's 25-yard field goal attempt went just to the right of the goalpost. Neither team could generate any offense for the rest of the quarter and the Hawks went into halftime with a 7-0 lead.
Hartwick received the second-half kickoff and started at its own 10. The Hawks moved down the field quickly as on the first play from scrimmage, Nick Knauer (Wynantskill, NY/Tamarac) broke off a 56-yard run to move 'Wick to the IC 34. A Garcia-to-Molina 14-yard strike put the ball on the IC 20. After two incompletions, Garcia's third-down pass to Knauer for 13 yards gave Hartwick a first down and the ball at the IC 7. Following a Knauer two-yard run, Garcia found John Horner (Bedford Hills, NY/Fox Lane) for the touchdown and with the extra point the 'Wick lead was 14-0 at 12:08.
On Ithaca's next possession, defensive end Joe Seney sacked Neumann to force a fumble that was picked up by Brown who took it to the house and within seven seconds the Hartwick lead was 21-0. The Hartwick defense continued to frustrate the Ithaca offense and the Bombers were forced to punt again. Hartwick's next possession was brief as Garcia was intercepted by Ithaca's Brian Garvey and the Bombers had the ball at their own 25.
The Bombers started to gain some rhythm on offense as Neumann connected with Joel Lynch for 21 yards and again to Lynch for a big 43 yard gain to give IC a first and goal at Hartwick's 10 yard line. From there the offense went backwards with a false start penalty, a loss of two yards on a rushing attempt, and finally a Seney sack of Neumann to push the Bombers back to the Hartwick 16. Kicker Garret Nicholson converted a 33 yard field goal and the Hawk lead was now 21-3 with just under four minutes left in the third quarter.
The Hawks' next possession ended with another turnover as Garcia fumbled away the ball and it was recovered by Ithaca to give it the ball at Hartwick's 30. The Bombers were poised to cut their deficit but Crump picked off Neumann at the four and the ball returned to Hartwick with 41 seconds left in the third.
Hartwick could not take advantage of the turnover and was backed up in its own endzone when Morrow came in to punt the ball away. Morrow's attempt was partially blocked by the Bombers and Ithaca had excellent field position at Hartwick's 31. The defense, however, would again step up as Crump picked off his second pass of the day at the 'Wick 15 and return it 21 yards to the Hartwick 36. The Hawk drive stalled and after a Morrow punt, the Bombers had possession at their own 22 yard line with 10 minutes left in the game.
The Bombers would finally get into the endzone as the 12 play, 78 yard drive ended with a Tom Dempsey to Lynch touchdown with 5:13 remaining on the clock. Ithaca tried for two points but Dempsey's pass completion was stopped short and the Hartwick lead would be 21-9.
After a Hartwick punt and an Ithaca turnover on downs, the Hawks regained possession with 3:21 to play and looked to run out the clock. With the ball at Ithaca's 43 yard line, Knauer fumble and Ithaca would recover to give it some life. That life was short-lived as on Dempsey's first down pass, he would be intercepted by Morrow.
Hartwick ran the clock down to seal the win. Ithaca took possession with 44 seconds left to play but it was not enough time as the Hawks came away the victors.
Offensively, the Hawks rushed for 142 yards on the afternoon led by Knauer's 97 yards on 18 carries. Ahart added 35 yards on eight carries. Garcia completed 19 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns. Molina caught six balls for 90 yards and a score. Travis Samuels (New City, NY/Clarkstown North) had five receptions for 35 yards while Williams had four catches for 41 yards.
Morrow led the defense with seven tackles. He also had five punts totaling 190 yards with two downed inside the 20. Bryan Schweitzer (Babylon, NY/Babylon) finished with six tackles and two sacks. Seney had four tackles, two sacks, and forced two fumbles. Steves added four tackles and a forced fumble.
Next weekend will be another matchup of unbeaten teams as Hartwick will look to stay perfect on the year when they play host to #19 St. John Fisher next Saturday. The Cardinals are 4-0 after knocking off Frostburg 38-35. Kickoff at Wright Stadium is set for 2 p.m.