Nationally-ranked St. John Fisher College scored the game's final 22 points to earn a 36-14 win over visiting Otterbein University in the Division III football season opener for both teams.
For Fisher, ranked No. 9 in the D3football.com preseason poll, senior quarterback Tyler Fenti completed 22-of-33 passes for 296 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Senior wideout Nathan Nigolian scored two touchdowns on the day and finished with eight catches for 148 yards.
For Otterbein, Reid Hutchinson rushed for 148 yards on just nine carries.
After forcing Otterbein to go three-and-out in the game's opening drive, Fisher marched 54 yards on just three plays with Robert Campese scoring his first career touchdown on a 21-yard pass from Fenti less than two minutes into the contest.
Otterbein, however, responded with a 14-play, 73-yard drive, capped by a two-yard run from Drew Ervin to tie the game at 7s.
The visiting Cardinals nearly took the lead early in the second quarter, as Brandon Fuentes made a diving tackle at the Fisher 4-yard line, following a 58-yard run from Hutchinson. Three plays later, senior All-American Sean Preish forced quarterback Brick Davis to fumble at the Fisher 20, ending the scoring threat.
With just over five minutes left in the second quarter, Fisher scored its second touchdown of the day, as Mike Collichio made a diving catch in the endzone on fourth-and-10 from the Otterbein 31.
It would stay 14-7 going into the second half and Otterbein would tie it up on its very first offensive play of third quarter with Hutchinson scoring on an 82-yard end-around with 12:27 left in half.
Fisher's defense would give the Cardinals the lead for good, as Mike Donitzen tackled Hutchinson on a pitch-play in the endzone for the safety with 9:28 left in the quarter. Following the ensuing free kick, Nigolian scored on a 45-yard bomb to put Fisher up 22-14 with 9:14 remaining.
On Fisher's next offensive possession, sophomore Chris Smith broke through the middle to score his first collegiate touchdown, a 17-yard run with 4:05 left in the quarter.
Fisher struck again in the closing moments of the third. Nigolian scored his second touchdown of the quarter, breaking a tackle and scampering down the right sidelines for a 46-yard catch.
Preish led the Fisher defense with 10 tackles, including two sacks, while senior Ryan Ballard was in on nine stops and broke up a team-high two passes.
Jake Kulig was a credited with a sack, while Kris Jones and Peter DiMilia each finished with a half-sack.
Smith led Fisher in rushing yards with 60 on 13 attempts. Tony Fusco gained 56 yards on 10 carries, including an 18-yard run on the game's opening possession. Campese finished the game with five catches for 60 yards (both career-highs).
For Otterbein, Ryan Moore made a game-high 13 tackles, while Will Brent recorded two of the Cardinals five sacks on the day.
Fisher will return to action in two weeks. The Cardinals will travel to play The College at Brockport at 6 p.m. on September 20th in Courage Bowl X – a game dedicated to the children of Camp Good Days and Special Times. It will also be the Empire 8 Conference season for both teams and Brockport's first-ever game as an Empire 8 member