The football team (3–4, 1–4 Empire 8 Conference) lost its third straight game today in Utica, N.Y., falling to the Utica College Pioneers (5–2, 2–2 Empire 8 Conference) 20-15.
The Bombers had not lost three games in a row all decade. The loss closed the door on the South Hill squad’s playoff chances, as the team entered the game needing to win out the final four games of the regular season and receive help from other Empire 8 Conference teams to gain a playoff berth.
Sophomore Phil Neumann earned the start at quarterback and performed well, going 17 for 29 with 228 yards and one touchdown. Junior wideout Joseph Ingrao caught six passes for 98 yards, and senior wide receiver Dan Ruffrage caught five balls for 68 yards.
Ruffrage, who was second in all of Division III football in punt return yards with an average of 26 yards per return, took a punt 67 yards to the Pioneers’ 13 yard line in the first quarter, but the Bombers could not turn it into any points.
Senior linebacker Joe Gilfedder led the defense, tallying 12 tackles. Junior free safety Josh Liemer had eight tackles, while senior defensive back Mike Conti led the secondary with two pass breakups.
The contest did not overwhelmingly favor any team as neither team turned the ball over — an aspect of the game that had been the deciding factor for the Bombers in previous games. The Pioneers scored the winning touchdown with more than a minute to play in the game.
The contest was the Bombers’ last road game for the 2011 season. They return home to Butterfield Stadium to start a three game home stretch at 1 p.m. Saturday against Frostburg State University.