The nationally-ranked St. John Fisher College football team jumped out to a 30-0 after two quarters and cruised to a 43-13 win over previously-undefeated Hartwick College on Saturday afternoon at Fisher's Growney Stadium in the Empire 8 Conference season opener for both squads.
With the win, Fisher, ranked No. 10 in the d3football.com poll, improve to 4-0. It is the fifth time since 2004 that the Cardinals have won their first four games.
With the loss, Hartwick, who entered the game averaging 44.0 points per game and enjoyed a 27.3 margin of victory its first three contests, falls to 3-1.
After forcing Hartwick to punt on the game's opening drive, the Cardinals reached the endzone on their first two offensive plays. After a 14-yard completion from Ryan Kramer to Dave Kirchner, Kirchner took the next play, a 39-yard option pitch for a touchdown to put the Cardinals up for good.
After Brendan Carey kicked a 34-yard field goal to make it 10-0 after the first quarter, Cody Miller scored Fisher's next two touchdowns.
Miller scored on a nine-yard run, capping a 9-play, 80-yard drive with 11:28 left in the half. Less than five minutes later, Miller scored on an 18-yard run to make it 23-0. On Hartwick's very next offensive play, Adam Burdick intercepted a pass at the Hartwick 46 and returned it for his second interception touchdown of the season with 5:31 left.
Hartwick tried to get on the board in the final seconds of the first half, but Troy Sant, who intercepted two passes in the first half, blocked the kick.
Fisher pushed its lead to 37-0 on the opening drive of the second half with Christian Zemaitis scoring from six yards out. It was the first touchdown in nearly three years for the senior running back, who hasn't played since 2009 due to injury. He rushed for three touchdowns back on October 17, 2009 in a 34-17 win over Utica.
Hartwick got on the board with 6:48 left in the third quarter as Joseph Rosiecki scored on a three-yard run, capping a nine-play 83-yard drive.
After a 27-yard interception return by Ryan Seymour, Fisher's Anthony Chiarmonte scored his first career touchdown on a 23-yard scamper.
Hartwick scored on a 1-yard run from backup-quarterback Keegan Corbett as time expired. It was the first points the Fisher defense has allowed this year in the fourth quarter.
Fisher gained 396 yards of total offense, including a season-high 264 yards on the ground. Miller finished with 10 carries for 99 yards and two touchdowns. Kirchner rushed for 59 yards on three carries and led all Fisher receivers with a career-high nine catches for 67 yards. Zemaitis gained 38 yards on eight attempts, while Alex Stacy rushed for 35 yards on just four attempts.
Kramer completed 17-of-25 passes for 132 yards.
For Hartwick, Nick Knauer gained 47 yards on eight rushes. Tanner Williams caught eight passes for 104 yards, while Chris Hoose finished with seven receptions for 84 yards.
Starting quarterback Mike Mathews was 4-of-13 for 48 yards and two interceptions. He was relieved by Corbett in the second quarter, who then completed 18-of-29 passes for218 yards with two interceptions.
The Fisher defense registered five sacks, including two from Zach Hildebrand. Nick Savas, Mike Guinta and Sean Preish were each credited with a sack.
Mason Judd and Travis Tones led Fisher with six tackles on the day.
Fisher is idle next week. The Cardinals will return to action at 12 p.m. on Saturday, October 6th when they host No. 8 Salisbury University in a pivotal Empire 8 showdown. Both Fisher and Salisbury advanced to the national quarterfinals last year.