St. John Fisher College dropped its final game of the 2010 regular season, losing 55-49 to visiting Springfield College on Saturday at Fisher's Growney Stadium.
With the loss, Fisher falls to 8-2 overall and 3-2 in the Empire 8, while Springfield improves to 7-2, 3-2.
Fisher, ranked third in the NCAA Division III East Region, will now wait until Sunday, November 14th to see if it has earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Championship. If the Cardinals aren't selected they will most likely earn their third straight ECAC Bowl Championship appearance. Springfield will host Union College next week.
In a game that saw both teams combine for 1,009 yards of total offense (Fisher 533, Springfield 496), Springfield's ground game proved to be too much for Fisher.
Springfield, who didn't punt once in the game, ran the ball 88 times, gaining 429 yards and held the ball for nearly 39 minutes. The Pride entered the game ranked third nationally in rushing offense, averaging 399 yards per game.
Springfield quarterback Austin Bateman (Gansevoort, NY) led the Pride, rushing 37 times for 237 yards and three touchdowns.
Springfield never trailed in the game. After forcing the Cardinals to go 3-and-out on the game's opening possession, Springfield drove to the Fisher 1, but couldn't convert on fourth-down, giving the ball back to Fisher. The Springfield defense held Fisher again and after a 25-yard punt, the Pride drove 30 yards on eight plays, with Alex Mendez (Cranston, RI) plunging in from one-yard out to take a 7-0 lead 10 minutes into the game.
Fisher answered though with a five-play, 60-yard drive with Ryan Kramer (Oneida, NY) scoring on a 33-yard run off left tackle.
After a 51-yard kickoff return from Mark Safer (St. Johns, FL), the junior caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from Bateman, making it 14-7 with 1:58 left in the first quarter.
With just 37 seconds left in the first quarter, the Pride went up two scores at 21-7. The Pride capitalized on a Fisher fumble on the ensuing kickoff and used great field position to its advantage with Bateman scoring on a 9-yard run just four plays later.
Fisher answered with a 60-yard drive as quarterback Tim Bailey (East Aurora, NY) scored on a one-yard run with 12:29 left in the second quarter.
Springfield went back up two scores on the next drive, as Bateman scored on a 13-yard run with 9:26 left in the second. Fisher answered with a four-yard pass from Bailey to Kramer, making it 28-21 with 5:20 remaining in the half.
Bateman scored this third touchdown of the half with a 33-yard run with 2:34 left, giving the Pride a 35-21 lead at intermission. Springfield nearly scored another touchdown at the end of the first half, but Fisher recovered a Springfield-fumble at the Fisher 1, as the half ended.
The Cardinals appeared to get the break they needed on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, as Byron Rhone (Angola, NY) recovered a fumble at the Springfield 32. Six plays later, Bailey connected with Ryan Schmidt (Whitesboro, NY) for a nine-yard touchdown pass, making it 35-28.
Springfield, however, regained momentum, marching 70 yards on 14 plays with Josh Carter (Marlbourgh, MA) scoring on a three-yard run. The big play of the drive came on a 3rd-and-19 play with Bateman keeping it for a 40-yard gain.
Safer pushed Springfield's lead to 49-28 with 12:20 left in the game, scoring on a 20-yard run.
The Cardinals answered with Kramer scoring on a 14-yard pass from Bailey, making it 49-35 with 9:43 left.
Springfield went back up three scores, as Ricky Peacock (Tucker, GA) drilled a 41-yard field goal with 5:33 left, making it 52-35.
Fisher cut the deficit to 10 points less than two minutes later, as Bailey hit Dan Witkowski (Webster, NY) for a 40-yard touchdown pass, making it 52-42 with 3:45.
After the Pride recovered an on-sides kick, Peacock made his second field goal of the game, this time from 29 yards out, giving Springfield the 55-42 lead with 1:15 left.
Fisher, however, refused to give up and made it 55-49 with three seconds left with Schmidt recovering a fumble and falling into the endzone from one yard out.
The Cardinals recovered its third attempted on-sides kick with three seconds left and had one offensive play from its own 42-yard line, but couldn't get the ball past midfield after three laterals.
For Fisher, Bailey completed 20-of-34 passes for 342 yards and four touchdowns. Bailey set the Fisher- single-season records for completions (212), yards (2884) and touchdown passes (32) during the game. Schmidt caught 10 passes for 146 yards, giving the junior a Fisher-record 80 on the year. He also became the second player to gain over 1,000 (1,006) receiving yards in a season.
Witkowski snagged six passes for 132 yards. Kramer rushed 13 times for 83 yards and caught four passes for 68 yards to go with his three touchdowns.
For Springfield, Mendez gained 106 yards on 27 attempts.
Defensively, Springfield sacked Bailey six times with Chris Kulcsar (Haworth, NJ) and Cody Flanigan (Auburn, NY) combining for four sacks. Ken Goodwin (Foxboro, MA) led the Pride defense with 10 tackles.
For Fisher, Dave Vosburgh (Pittsford, NY) was in on 17 tackles, while Joe Leavell (West Seneca, NY) (12) and Travis Tones (Bliss, NY) (11) each finished in double digits.