No. 25 Ithaca Hangs On to Defeat St. John Fisher, 21-14

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PITTSFORD, N.Y. – The nationally ranked No. 25 Ithaca College football team improved to 3-1 on the season with a 21-14 non-conference victory at St. John Fisher College on Saturday afternoon at Growney Stadium. A late fourth quarter interception by senior Jovonte Long in the end zone propelled the Bombers over Fisher, which is now 0-2 on the season.

With 2:02 left in the fourth quarter, Fisher recorded its second interception of the afternoon at the Ithaca 16-yard line to set up a potential game-winning or game-tying drive. After two no-gain plays, Joshua Michels found Cam Cleveland for a 20-yard gain. The Cardinals then connected on 21- and 32-yard completions to push the ball down to the Ithaca 13-yard line with just over a minute left in regulation. A false start moved the spot back five yards, and on the next snap, Long made the leaping interception in the end zone to give Ithaca the win.

Prior to the dramatic finish, the first half of Saturday's showdown was a defensive battle as the former Empire 8 Conference rivals totaled just 199 combined yards (131 for Ithaca, 68 for Fisher) of offense and 14 first down. Despite the low totals, the Bombers were able to build a 14-0 lead by intermission.

Ithaca's first touchdown of the game came on a 4-yard run by Kendall Anderson with 6:34 to play in the first quarter.

The Bomber defense forced Fisher into five three-and-outs to begin the game. After the Cardinals' opening possession of the second quarter, which resulted in a punt to the Ithaca 43-yard line, Ithaca marched down the field on a pass interference and two completions to junior Will Gladney for 32 yards down to the 1-yard line. Junior Isaiah D'Haiti punched in his first touchdown of the afternoon on the ensuing snap to give the Bombers a 14-0 advantage with 10:17 left in the half.

Ithaca and Fisher would trade punts over the next six possessions to set up one final drive for Fisher with 1:14 left. The Cardinals completed three straight passes after starting at the 21-yard line to move into Ithaca territory. Three more completions spotted the ball at the IC 20-yard line to set up a 37-yard field goal attempt, which sailed wide and preserved Ithaca's 14-0 lead.

Fisher's offense woke up in the second half and kept the IC defense on its heels. After two Bomber punts, the Cardinals completed a 39-yard pass down to the 1-yard line. Fisher fumbled the next snap and senior Ryan Bronson scooped up the loose ball to keep Fisher off the board.

On Ithaca's first play after the sudden change, sophomore Wahid Nabi was picked off for the first time in the game in Bomber territory. It took Fisher just four plays after that to find the end zone and cut its deficit to 14-7 with 7:43 to play in the third quarter.

The Bombers immediately answered on the next possession to push their lead back out to 21-7. During the drive, Nabi completed seven passes for 86 yards, including 43 yards to sophomore Austin Hedglen. A 23-yard strike to sophomore Andrew Vito pushed the ball to the Fisher 1-yard line to set up the second touchdown for D'Haiti with 3:01 left.

As the fourth quarter got underway, Fisher found on the end zone on the second snap on a 12-yard pass from Michels to Will Blake. Michels finished the game with 362 yards passing on 31-of-43.

Ithaca had an opportunity to take another two-score lead with just under 10 minutes to play, but turned the ball over on downs at the Fisher 19-yard line. Fisher could not capitalize and had to punt near midfield.

After another Ithaca punt, Fisher answered with a 14-yard and 18-yard completion, but on the latter reception, senior Tyler Kishbaugh forced a fumble and classmate Aaron Francis corralled the loose ball with 4:12 to play.

Ithaca gave the ball back four plays later on another interception deep in Cardinal territory to set up the final drive for Fisher.

Nabi finished the afternoon with 246 yards passing on 28-of-46, while Anderson rushed for 37 yards. D'Haiti added 32 yards on the ground, while Gladney hauled in 12 receptions for 96 yards. Vito recorded nine catches for 89 yards to cap off the offensive leaders.

Defensively, Francis led the way with nine tackles (1.5 for loss), a pass breakup and fumble recovery. Bronson, Kishbaugh and senior RJ D'Amico each notched seven tackles. Bronson also added a sack and fumble recovery.

The Bombers defense also held Fisher to minus-5 rushing yards in the game.

Ithaca is off next week but will return back to Butterfield Stadium on October 6 for a 1 p.m. kickoff against No. 20 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the Liberty League opener for both teams.

Dec. 14: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Mount Union at Mary Hardin-Baylor
@ Woodforest Bank Stadium; Shenandoah, Texas
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Dec. 14: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Mount Union at Mary Hardin-Baylor
@ Woodforest Bank Stadium; Shenandoah, Texas
Audio Preview Video Tickets