The nationally-ranked St. John Fisher College program delivered a school-record 11 sacks on defense and scored 30 straight points to help secure a 37-14 victory over host Hartwick College on Saturday in a matchup between two undefeated teams. The Hawks and Cardinals came into the contest as the number one and number two ranked offenses in the Empire 8 Conference respectively but the Fisher defense was up for the challenge, holding the Hawks to just 197 yards of total offense.
With the win, Fisher, ranked 19th in the d3football.com poll, improves to 5-0 and 2-0 in the Empire 8 Conference, while Hartwick falls to 4-1, 1-1 respectively. The Cardinals are now the lone unbeaten team in the Empire 8 Conference.
Fisher, who led 14-7 at the half, took control of the game early in the third quarter. The Cardinals marched 63 yards on the opening drive, with the big play coming on a 58-yard hookup from Tyler Fenti to Kevin Francis who took it down to the Hartwick five yard line. Fisher had to settle for a 20-yard field goal from Brendan Carey to make it 17-7 four minutes into the quarter.
Following the field goal, on the Hawks first possession of the half, quarterback John Garcia had his pass deflected at the line of scrimmage, which was picked off by Sean Preish, who scampered 35 yards to put the Cardinals up 24-7. The touchdown came just 18 seconds after Carey split the uprights.
Fisher scored on back-to back possessions early in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.
Cody Miller found pay dirt for the second time of the day on a four-yard touchdown run to start the fourth quarter. Miller finished with 75 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
Following a Hartwick three and out, Fenti connected with Francis again, this time for a 56-yard touchdown and a 37-7 lead with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game.
The Cardinals never trailed in the game. After two defensive stops to start the contest, Fisher began its second drive of the day with excellent field position from the Hartwick 49 yard line. Facing a fourth and five from the Hartwick 20-yard line, Fenti connected with Dan Rudy for ten yards to pick up the first down. On the ensuing play, Ryan Kramer scampered into the endzone from five yards out to put Fisher up 7-0 late in the first quarter.
Hartwick evened up the score at 7 apiece with 10:54 remaining in the first half on a one-yard run from Tanner Williams. Williams helped set up the score with a 36-yard punt return to the Fisher 19 yard line, scoring six plays later.
The Cardinals marched right back on the ensuing possession, on a nine play 62-yard drive to regain the lead 14-7 with just over seven minutes remaining in the second quarter. Facing a fourth and one from the Hawks five yard line, Miller took the handoff to left side into the endzone, marking the seventh straight game the senior has scored a touchdown.
Fenti finished the day 16 of 27 for 241 yards and one touchdown. Kevin Francis ended the day with 5 catches for 156 yards and one touchdown.
On the defensive side, Mike Donitzen led the way with 7 tackles, including 3 sacks. Cody Foster chipped in four tackles and 2.5 sacks for the Cardinals.
Fisher returns to action at 12 p.m next Saturday at Salisbury University.