ITHACA, N.Y. – The Ithaca College football team got back on the winning track on Saturday afternoon against Utica College at Butterfield Stadium with a 23-14 Empire 8 Conference victory. With the win, Ithaca is now 2-2 on the season and 1-1 in the Empire 8, while Utica takes its first loss of the season as it drops to 4-1 overall.
The Bombers notched season-highs in points (23), total yards (370), passing yards (251) and rushing yards (119) in the game. Ithaca's defense held Utica to 17 points and 50 yards below its season averages. More impressively, the Bombers gave up just 47 yards on the ground to Utica, who entered the game averaging 141.3.
Defensively, junior Dan Loizos registered a career-high 20 tackles with a forced fumble, two-and-a-half tackles for loss and one-and-a-half sacks for 13 yards.
Senior Wolfgang Shafer put together an efficient afternoon, as he went 13-for-19 passing with 251 yards and a touchdown. Junior Tristan Brown ran the ball 25 times for 125 yards and two touchdowns.
Six different Bombers caught a pass in the win. Junior JR Zazzara led the way with 69 yards and a score on four catches, while freshman Will Gladney grabbed two receptions for 58 yards. Juniors Myles LaFrance (51 yards), Brad Helmkamp (44 yards) and Jack Yule (23 yards) all tallied two receptions. Brown had the final catch for six yards.
Ithaca earned the first possession of the game, but went three-and-out. Utica picked up one first down on the ensuing drive, which would eventually stall and the Pioneers punted to the Ithaca 10-yard line. Junior Jordan Schemm returned that punt 22 yards to set up Ithaca's next drive.
Shafer connected with junior Brad Helmkamp for a 14-yard gain to push the Bombers up to midfield. Shafer then found junior Jack Yule down the middle of the field for 17 yards to bring Ithaca down to Utica's 36. A holding penalty on the next play brought Ithaca back to the 46, but Shafer hit junior Myles LaFrance, who was wide open for a 42-yard completion, but Utica forced a fumble and recovered at the 3-yard line to end the drive with 6:25 left in the first quarter.
The first quarter would end with no score after Utica ran off all but 33 seconds on the next drive.
Ithaca would come out in the second quarter with an 11-play, 39-yard drive that resulted in a 23-yard field goal from freshman David Prudhomme for the first points of the game. The field goal attempt was set up by a pair of big plays by the Bombers offense – a 30-yard pass to Helmkamp and a 17-yard run by Brown.
Utica attempted to answer on its final drive of the half, as it marched all the way down to Ithaca's 10-yard line, but missed a 27-yard field goal as the half ended. During the drive, Loizos notched a sack/fumble to push the Pioneers back to the 35-yard line, but kept the drive alive on a 4th-and-14 completion with 20 seconds left.
The second half was full of action, as 34 combined points were hung on the scoreboard.
Utica started things off on its first possession of the half that was capped off by a 34-yard pass from Teddy VanGalen to Jerred Beniquez to give Utica its first lead of the game. The Pioneers used just 1:45 of the clock on the 65-yard drive.
The Bombers regained the lead, 9-7, just 35 seconds later. IC needed just two plays to march 55 yards, which ended on a first touchdown jaunt by Brown from eight yards out. Ithaca's first play from scrimmage was a 38-yard pass from Shafer to Zazzara that brought the ball down to the Utica 17. A facemask penalty tacked on nine more yards to set up the scoring run. A missed extra kept the score at 9-7.
Ithaca extended its advantage to 16-7 with just under seven minutes to go in the third quarter. A 14-yard run by Brown started the drive and then a 20-yard completion to Zazzara pushed the Bombers to Utica's 44. A pass interference on the next play spotted Ithaca at the 29, but a holding call on the next play brought the Bombers back to the 36. Shafer then found Gladney down the middle of the field for a 30-yard gain to give Brown his second touchdown of the contest from four yards out.
Utica got back to within a two-point difference, 16-14, with 9:47 left in regulation. The Pioneers punched one in from a yard out after four completions brought them all the way down to that spot.
Ithaca would then put the game out of reach with a nine-play, 65-yard drive that chewed up 5:43 on the next possession, which culminated with a four-yard pass from Shafer to Zazzara. The big play of the drive came on a beautiful pass down the sideline from Shafer that fell right into the hands of Gladney for 28 yards. After that, Brown toted the ball two more times for 19 yards to give Ithaca the ball at the 11-yard line. Back-to-back completions to Zazzara ended the drive.
Utica made one final push, but a 4th-and-14 attempt at Ithaca's 35 was broke up by junior Kenny Bradley to send Ithaca to victory.
Bradley ended the game with 10 tackles and two quarterback hurries. Junior Mike Miller notched seven tackles, while sophomore Pat Minogue added six tackles with one-and-a-half for a loss and a half-sack.
Schemm made five tackles and totaled 136 return yards on six attempts – 79 in punt returns and 57 in kick returns.
The Bombers will look to ride this victory into next weekend's showdown with Hartwick College at 1 p.m. at Butterfield Stadium. Next Saturday is Homecoming and Alumni Week on South Hill.