|Craig Roumes, left, and Michael Roumes, each had a pretty impressive Saturday.
Susquehanna, Ithaca athletics photos
By Joe Sager
Growing up in New Jersey, brothers Michael and Craig Roumes were part of a competitive family.
So, it’s only natural that sibling rivalry carries over to the football field.
After Michael produced his first collegiate interception return for Ithaca on Saturday, he thought he had some bragging rights over Craig, a senior at Susquehanna.
Yeah, that didn’t last long as Craig produced his own pick-6 later that night.
“I am sure brothers have gotten interceptions before. That has had to have happened in college football,” Ithaca coach Dan Swanstrom said. “But, on the same day? That’s pretty unique.”
Additionally, both happened at nearly the same point in both games – right before halftime.
“It feels crazy right now to think about (the coincidence),” Craig said.
Michael’s came first. The sophomore safety stepped in front of a pass and ran it back 70 yards for a touchdown with 14 seconds left in the first half. It gave the Bombers a 45-6 lead over St. Lawrence.
“Craig was watching the whole first half (online), but had to go eat with his team just before that happened,” Michael said. “That was the first interception of my college career. To have it be a pick-6 is pretty exciting. Even after the game, Craig hadn’t played his game yet. I looked at my phone and I had some texts from him. So, texted him about it since I like to poke a little fun at my older brothers. I asked him if he ever had a pick-6 in his college career and he replied with, ‘No, but I am about to.’”
Sure enough, Craig delivered. The senior outside linebacker jumped in front of a pass and took it 44 yards to the house with 5:02 left in the first half and gave the squad a 17-10 lead over Dickinson. It was a crucial play as the River Hawks won, 24-17.
“I was upset I missed (Michael’s interception). He sent me a video of it right before my game, so I saw that. I told him that I needed one now. Turns out, it happened,” Craig said. “It was very similar to his, too. It was a great moment. Seeing no one in front of me and running as fast as I can, I was only thinking about getting in the end zone. That was my first one ever.”
Michael was able to watch that play live while steaming the game on the Ithaca bus during the trip back to campus.
“A soon as it happened, I immediately texted our family group chat,” he said. “It was crazy.”
There went Michael’s bragging rights. Craig eventually one-upped him, too.
“I had a forced fumble and fumble recovery also,” Craig said. “I think I beat him on that game.”
So, has Craig achieved better brother status?
“We have a competition going with seeing who has more tackles,” Michael said. “We’ll see how that shapes up.”
Craig leads that one, too, 26-25. But his team has played one more game than Michael’s.
“It’s a friendly battle, I’d say,” Craig said.
While the interception returns for touchdowns on the same day may have been unusual, big plays are expected from both brothers. Craig is a key part of No. 21 Susquehanna’s defense.
“Craig is outstanding. He’s one of the best players I’ve coached just with his athleticism, the speed he plays at – he’s full speed all the time – and his playmaking ability. He’s a ton of fun to coach,” Susquehanna coach Tom Perkovich said. “He cares about it, too. I think he brings a ton of energy to the unit and the team, as a whole. The players respect him immensely. He plays baseball here, too, and he probably could play a lot of positions for us on both sides of the ball.”
Michael, too, is a versatile part of No. 10 Ithaca’s defense.
“His nickname here is Mikey Football. He was born to play football. He can play every position. He can throw, punt, snap, kick – he literally can do it all. His high school film is ridiculous,” Swanstrom said. “We’re actually surprised it took him this long to run one back. Our expectations for him are through the roof. He is exactly the kind of player we want to build our program around.
“He is an amazing student with high character and a multisport athlete. Just put a ball in his hand and let him figure it out,” he continued. “I would have bet a lot of money on his success. He hasn’t scratched the surface of what he’s capable of doing.”
While oldest brother, Ryan, played football at Marist, Michael nearly followed Craig to Susquehanna.
“I looked at Susquehanna a little, but I was looking more for a physical therapy school and Ithaca has a great program here,” Michael said.
“We talked about it, but I think his academic situation brought him to Ithaca and he’s set up pretty nicely there,” Craig said.
So, they follow each other from afar.
“It’s awesome to see him do well. I am cheering for him and Ithaca,” Craig said. “I try to watch every game and follow him as much as I can. My coaches keep my updated on him. It’d definitely be something special if we keep this going longer.”
If both teams make the playoffs, it’s possible the brothers could play against each other.
“As a team, we need to stay focused on staying ranked and beating the upcoming opponent. We have a tough schedule ahead and we’ll figure it out and, hopefully, get a spot in the playoffs,” Craig said. “Hopefully, we see Ithaca in a playoff game. That would be the best scenario for my parents. My parents want to watch both of us. They always said they’ll go watch the older one first. Now, it’s my turn for them to come the games, but I know they plan to get up to see Michael play, too.”
Ithaca (4-0, 1-0) continues Liberty League play this week against Buffalo State.
“We’re just focusing each week on going 1-0. We’re not looking forward. We’re just staying in the moment and sticking to our preparation and letting that take over in games,” Michael said. “Coming into the season, I didn’t really know what to expect. I just worked hard and, eventually, earned a starting spot, which is exciting. We’re in a good spot. The defense is a young group of guys and we’re coming together nicely. We have to keep working in the right direction.”
Susquehanna (4-1, 3-1) sustained a 24-17 overtime loss at No. 7 Muhlenberg in Centennial Conference play, but responded for a pair of wins. The River Hawks are off this week and return to action next week at Moravian.
“We played a tough schedule to start the season. The kids have handled it well. It’s been good seeing us bounce back off that loss,” Perkovich said. “Playing two good teams and getting wins is big. I am proud of our guys. We’ve battled and we’re entering a much-needed bye week this week.”