ITHACA, N.Y. – The Ithaca College football team secured a 28-3 Liberty League victory over the University of Rochester at a muddy Butterfield Stadium on Saturday to improve to 5-2 on the season and 2-1 in league play. Heavy rains rolled through the area early in the second quarter and play was halted with just over seven minutes left in the half due to thunder. The rain let up shortly after that, but the earlier accumulation was enough to affect the playing conditions on the natural grass surface.
Rochester received the opening kick of the game and quickly moved the ball down into Ithaca territory. On the Yellowjackets' second play from scrimmage, Ithaca was flagged for pass interference to spot the ball at the IC 43. Now facing fourth-and-two at the IC 35, Matt Gallagher found Noah Shinaman for 13 yards to continue the drive. An 18-yard completion ensued to move the ball inside the five-yard line, but there is where the drive stalled an Rochester had to settle for a 23-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead with 9:43 left in the first quarter.
The Bombers would take the lead on their opening drive of the game, 7-3, as they marched 63 yards on 10 plays, which culminated with a four-yard diving catch by sophomore Andrew Vito in the corner of the end zone with 6:26 on the clock.
During the drive, sophomore Wahid Nabi started things off with a 16-yard completion to junior Will Gladney. After back-to-back runs by junior Kendall Anderson for 21 yards, Nabi connected with freshman Jacob Cooney for 18 yards down to the Rochester 18-yard line. An 11-yard catch by Cooney put IC at the five-yard line, and two plays later, Vito score the first touchdown of the contest.
Rochester would go three-and-out on its next possession, and a 25-yard punt return by Vito put the Bombers in terrific position at the UR 18-yard line. A 12-yard run by Anderson gave the Bombers a goal-to-go situation at the 7-yard line, and on the next snap, Nabi hit Gladney in the end zone to give the Bombers a 14-3 advantage with 4:12 left in the quarter.
The first quarter wound down on punts by both teams and then the rain began to fall.
UR started the second quarter with a first down at the IC 48-yard line. Three decent gains moved the ball down to the IC 25, but Rochester would turn the ball over on downs after senior Aaron Francis made a tackle for a loss of 2 yards on fourth-and-4.
The Bombers took over with just over 11 minutes left in the half, but gave the ball right back on their second play from scrimmage on a fumble at their own 26-yard line.
Rochester converted on a fourth down play early on in the drive, but after a 2-yard run and an incomplete pass. The game was delayed due to the threatening weather. Facing third-and-8 after the 30-minute delay, Rochester threw an interception to senior Ryan Bronson on the first snap.
Now in the shadow of their own goalposts, the Bombers could not produce a first down and had to punt.
Rochester once again started a drive in plus territory at the Ithaca 35-yard line with 4:55 remaining in the half. The Yellowjackets picked up two first downs during the possession and advanced inside the 10-yard line before attempting a 35-yard field goal. The try was blocked by Bronson and recovered by Garone to preserve Ithaca's 14-3 lead at intermission.
First half yardage totals were fairly even, as Rochester gained 123 yards to Ithaca's 113, but the Yellowjackets possessed the ball for nearly 22 minutes of action.
The Bombers built their lead to 21-3 just 2:45 into the second half as Nabi rushed for a 15-yard touchdown. IC started at its own 38, but immediately committed a penalty to move the ball back 10 yards. Anderson rushed for 17 yards on the next two snaps to set up a three-and-short, but Nabi's pass fell incomplete. However, Rochester was flagged for roughing the passer to continue the drive, and the Bombers capitalized. Nabi connected with Vito for 23 yards and ran it in on the next play.
Rochester answered with a 13-play, 78-yard drive on the next possession, but the Yellowjackets would once again turn the ball over on downs as seniors Noah Hill and Marc Barbieri came up with an 11-yard sack on fourth-and-goal at the five-yard line.
Ithaca added its final touchdown on the game midway through the fourth quarter on a 54-yard completion from Nabi to freshman Billy Tedeschi with 6:41 remaining in the contest. On the play, Nabi bought time by rolling out to his right and Tedeschi released down the field for a wide-open catch-and-run for the score.
On the seven-play, 94-yard drive, Anderson accounted for 28 more yards on the ground, as he finished with a career-high 83 yards rushing on 15 attempts. Tedeschi hauled in a team-high 77 yards receiving on four catches.
Ithaca got the ball right back after the touchdown as Garone intercepted a broken-up pass by senior Tyler Kishbaugh and returned it down to the Rochester 18-yard line.
Freshmen AJ Clifford and Justin Taraves split carries on the drive for a total of 16 yards, but the Bombers turned the ball over on down at the two-yard line with 2:44 left.
Rochester would advance the ball up towards midfield before the clock hit zeros.
Nabi finished the game with 234 yards passing on 20-of-26 attempts and rushed for 17 yards. Gladney caught seven passed for 59 yards, while Vito added four receptions for 29 yards. Cooney also finished the game with 29 yards receiving, while freshman Donte Garcia recorded two catches for 26 yards.
The Bomber defense continued its stingy play as they surrendered just 270 yards of offense to Rochester. IC forced two turnovers with the interceptions, and Rochester turned the ball over on downs twice. IC also recorded 11 tackles for loss, five pass break-ups and two sacks, including one for 12 yards by freshman Cade McDermott.
Senior Pat Minogue led the charge with 11 tackles (seven solo), 1.5 for loss and a pass break-up, while fellow senior Brien Pacholec notched seven tackles. Kishbaugh and Hill each recorded six stops, while seniors Brian Gill and Jovonte Long each had five tackles apiece.
IC finished the contest with 362 yards of offense on 57 plays for an average of 6.4 yards per attempt. Ithaca earned 18 first downs in the game and rushed for 128 yards.
Ithaca concludes its regular season home schedule next Saturday, October 27 for Senior Day against St. Lawrence University at 1 p.m.