Fisher Wins Courage Bowl IX
The St. John Fisher College football team scored 41 unanswered points in the second quarter as the Cardinals defeated Empire 8 rival Alfred University 48-13 in the ninth annual Courage Bowl Saturday afternoon at Growney Stadium.
With the win, Fisher, now 8-2 overall and 5-2 in the Empire 8 will await word from the NCAA Division III Selection Committee. The Cardinals are vying for one of the remaining five at-large bids that will be chosen Sunday evening.
The Cardinals had the ball to begin the game, but the possession wouldn't last long as quarterback Tyler Fenti threw into coverage resulting in an interception at Fisher's own 45 yard-line.
The Saxons would take advantage of the early mistake, driving 45 yards on 13 plays, including a big fourth down conversion to keep the drive alive. Alfred would eventually take an early 7-0 lead after Tyler Johnson scored on the quarterback keeper.
Two possession later, Fisher tied the score. After being forced out of the pocket and nearly dropped behind the line, Fenti broke away from Alfred's pursuit and scrambled for the first-down. The Cardinals were further aided on the play by a 15-yard penalty as Alfred was flagged for a late-hit, advancing the ball to the Saxon 32-yard line. The extra yardage would pay off after a one-handed grab by Rudy in the corner of the endzone to knot things up at 7-7.
The Cardinals took the lead midway through the second quarter. Fenti hook-up with Nathan Nigolian for the 42-yard score following a reverse flea-flicker, giving Fisher a 14-7 advantage with 7:39 left in the half.
On Alfred first ensuing offensive play, Fisher's Brandon Fuentes scooped up a lateral pass and returned the fumble 25 yards for the touchdown to make it 21-7 with 7:25 left.
The Cardinals weren't done there, however. After forcing a Saxon punt, the Cardinal offense wouldn't be on the field for long. Fenti dropped back on first down and threw deep down field into double coverage, but Kevin Francis would be the one to come away with the ball before falling at the Alfred 2-yard line – good for a 57-yard pass. On the next play, Cody Miller would rush for his 13th touchdown of the season to cap the 29-second drive. After a missed extra point, Fisher held a comfortable lead, 27-7 with 5:58 left.
Alfred looked to cut into the deficit as the second quatrter wore on, but the Fisher defense had other ideas. After forcing Tyler Johnson from the pocket, the quarterback threw the ball right to Mike Donitzen who rumbled 42 yards down the left sidelinesfor the score to make it 34-7 with 3:40 left.
Less than a minute later, Fisher scored its sixth touchdown of the quarter. Backup quarterback Dominic Salvo was intercepted by Ryan Seymour, who returned it 46 yards to the Alfred 13. Miller scored his second touchdown of the quarter on the next snap, extending Fisher's lead to 41-7.
The six-touchdown outburst in the second quarter set a new program record for most points scored in a single quarter with 41.
After swapping possessions on turnovers in the third quarter, Alfred was finally able to put something together, engineering an eight-play, 81-yard drive capped by a 29-yard pass to Josh Phillips in the back of the endzone, making it 41-13 in favor of the home team.
The Cardinals would answer with a scoring drive of their own, orchestrating an 11-play,72-yard drive, capped by a 20-yard touchdown run by Miller, his third touchdown of the afternoon to extend Fisher's lead to 48-13 with 13:29 remaining in the game.
Fisher's defense would cause another turnover late in the fourth, its sixth of the game as Holden Coon came away with the loose ball, allowing Fisher to run the clock down and come away with the win.
Fenti had a strong game, completing 10 of 18 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns. Miller had a game-high 125 yards on 18 carries resulting in three touchdowns.
Rudy and Nigolian each had a touchdown in the win, while Francis had 67 receiving yards on two catches.
Sean Preish had a game-high 10 tackles and combined with Sammy Hasan for a sack. Peter DiMilia had eight stops and Moore and Fuentes each tallied six.
Mike Guinta, Ryan Seymour, Moore and Donitzen each recorded an interception in the lop-sided win.