ITHACA N.Y. (CORTLAND ATHLETICS) –
Cortland quarterback Zac Boyes (Buffalo/Kenmore West) completed 24-of-32 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns and ran 15 times for 125 yards, including two crucial fourth-quarter rushes, as the nationally 15th-ranked Red Dragons reclaimed the Cortaca Jug with a 38-28 victory at 14th-ranked Ithaca. The game was played before a crowd of 7,800 fans at Bertino Field at Butterfield Stadium.
Cortland (9-1) and Ithaca (8-2) are both heading to the NCAA Division III playoffs next week by virtue of already having clinched their league titles (Cortland in the Empire 8, Ithaca in the Liberty League). The 32-team NCAA field will be announced Sunday at 5 p.m. on NCAA.com.
Cortland scored on six of its first eight possessions and did not punt in the contest. The Red Dragons registered a time of possession of just over 40 minutes, including three drives that ate up more than six minutes. Cortland finished the game 8-for-15 on third-down conversions and 4-of-5 on fourth down.
Cortland has scored at least 35 points in all 10 of its games this fall. Ithaca entered the game allowing only 12 points per contest. Cortland finished with a 512-350 advantage in total offense. The teams were pretty even through the air, with the Red Dragons holding a slight 289-277 edge, but Cortland ran for 223 yards on 52 carries while Ithaca had just 73 rushing yards on 20 attempts.
Boyes tied the school record for career touchdown passes with 59, matching the mark set by Brett Segala from 2016-19. He was, however, intercepted twice – both in the second quarter, including on a Hail Mary in the end zone to end the half – and his streak of pass attempts without an interception ended at a school-record 194.
Jaden AlfanoStJohn (Westhampton/Westhampton Beach) ran 29 times for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Cole Burgess (Greenwich) caught nine passes for 89 yards and a score and JJ Laap (Stony Brook/Ward Melville) had seven receptions for 114 yards. Laap became Cortland’s career leader with 2,730 receiving yards, eclipsing the previous mark of 2,635 set by John Babin from 2010-11, 13-14.
Ashton Capone (Saratoga Springs) and Joe Iadevaio (Massapequa/Plainedge) also scored touchdowns – Capone on the ground and Iadevaio through the air – and Mike Baloga (New Windsor/Cornwall) made a 29-yard field goal late in the game to help seal the victory. Baloga also made all five of his PAT kicks and is 68-for-68 for the season while extending his school record for consecutive made PATs to 87 dating back to last year.
Jaden Martinez (Comsewogue) made 10 tackles and forced a fumble and Jack Winey (Lindenhurst) recorded eight tackles for Cortland.
Ithaca quarterback Colin Schumm finished 18-of-26 through the air for 224 yards and a touchdown and he ran for a score. The Bombers also completed two “double pass” plays for 53 yards, including a 22-yard TD toss from receiver Julien Deumaga. Jalen Leonard-Osbourn ran for 57 yards and a score and caught five passes for 65 yards and a TD. Ben Stola led the Bombers with 17 tackles and an interception and Jason Haber made 10 tackles, two for loss.
Ithaca received the opening kickoff but was unable to put together a drive and had to punt, which was a 53-yarder by Darren Brunner to flip the field down to the Cortland 10-yard line. The Red Dragons looked impressive on their initial drive and marched 90 yards on 15 plays, capped by AlfanoStJohn’s 1-yard run on 4th-and-goal. Ithaca answered with its first touchdown as Schumm scored on a 1-yard sneak with 1:28 remaining in the quarter, which followed a 31-yard pass from Leonard-Osbourne to Deumaga.
Cortland began the second quarter near midfield and chewed up nearly five minutes, which was capped off by a 1-yard run by Ashton Capone, again on 4th-and-goal, to make it 14-6 with 10:19 left in the half. The Bombers were forced to punt again and appeared to get the momentum back as Boyes was stripped on a pass attempt, but he scooped up the loose ball and threw a 16-yard completion to Laap for a first down. Later in the drive, however, Boyes was intercepted by Derek Slywka, who returned the ball 57 yards down to the Cortland 26-yard line. IC was unable to come up with any points off the takeaway as the Bombers fumbled the ball back to Cortland inside the 10-yard line with 2:51 to go in the half.
The Red Dragons received the second half kick and burned more than eight minutes off the clock on another 15-play, 90-yard drive to take a 21-6 lead. Cortland picked up three third downs on the drive and finished things off with a 6-yard pass from Boyes to Iadevaio with 6:52 on the clock. IC pulled back to within a score, 21-13, on its ensuing drive as Deumaga found Leonard-Osbourne for a 22-yard score with 4:23 left. Previously in the drive, IC faced a 4th-and-4 from the Cortland 48 and Schumm connected with Ben Marinaccio for a 26-yard completion.
Cortland once again marched down the field with five straight plays of over nine yards. On a first down at the Ithaca 12-yard line, the Bombers were called for targeting, and on the next snap, Boyes found Burgess for a 6-yard touchdown to make it 28-13 with 26.1 seconds remaining in the quarter.
As the fourth quarter got underway, Ithaca pulled to within seven at 28-21 with 13:10 on a 1-yard run by Leonard-Osbourne and a 2-point conversion pass from Schumm to Sam Kline. The Red Dragons seized the momentum right back when Burgess returned the kickoff 72 yards down to the IC 11-yard line. On 4th-and-1 from the 2-yard line, AlfanoStJohn ran in for his second score of the contest and the Red Dragons led 35-21 with 11:01 left.
The Bombers fought back as Schumm hit Kline for a 15-yard touchdown pass with 6:12 to go, capping a 75-yard drive and closing the score to 35-28. On the next drive, Cortland faced 3rd-and-8 from its own 28-yard line. The snap was botched and Boyes had to scramble away from multiple Bombers to avoid a huge loss and wound up picking up six yards. The Red Dragons called timeout on 4th-and-2 from their own 34-yard line and kept their offense on the field. Boyes ran for eight yards to keep the drive going, and two plays later he broke a 46-yard run to the Ithaca 12-yard line. That eventually led to Baloga’s 29-yard field goal with 2:11 left.
On the ensuing kickoff, Cortland kicker Patrick Luby (Ridgewood, NJ) forced a fumble on the return that Winey recovered to seal the victory.