The football team defeated Hartwick College 29–17 Saturday at Butterfield Stadium to improve to 4–1 on the season. Senior quarterback Rob Zappia matched his career-high with four touchdowns through the air, including two to senior wide receiver Dan Ruffrage who led all Bombers receivers with five receptions for 100 yards.
“Me and Zappia have had a good connection the last couple of weeks,” Ruffrage said. “I happened to be wide open on both plays and Rob made a couple of good throws.”
The Bombers opened the scoring in the first quarter. After Hartwick was forced to punt out of their own end zone setting up a short field for the Blue and Gold offense, Zappia found senior tight end Dan Higgins from 6 yards out to put the South Hill squad up 6–0. Following an interception by sophomore safety Josh Liemer, Ruffrage scored the first of his two touchdowns when Zappia found him in the end zone.
“I made a double move and the cornerback bit on it and lost his balance,” Ruffrage said.
After another Hartwick turnover, the Bombers had a short field again and Ruffrage added his second touchdown reception of the quarter when Zappia found him open from 24 yards away to put the Blue and Gold up 22–0.
After taking a 22–7 lead at halftime, the Bombers’ defense let Hartwick cut the deficit to 22–17 late in the third quarter. Following a Hartwick field goal, Zappia showed off his arm strength, connecting on his final touchdown pass of the afternoon, a 43–yard touchdown to sophomore wide receiver Andre Jamison. The touchdown reception was the first of Jamison’s career.
“When I heard the play in the huddle I knew I had a good chance to make an impact,” Jamison said. “I got behind the safety and Rob put made a nice high throw a got it over the defenders.”
Head Coach Mike Welch said the Bombers have been trying to find ways to exploit the speed of Jamison all season.
“We’ve just been trying to find open spaces for him so he can use his speed,” Welch said. “We’re very excited to have him in the program and he’s developing into a very good player.”
The Bombers took a 29–17 lead all the way to the final buzzer as the defense held Hartwick scoreless for the final 20 minutes of the game.
Despite giving up a season–high 377 yards passing, the Bombers’ defense stepped up when it mattered the most, recording six sacks, including three in the red zone and forced Hartwick quarterback Dan Brainard to throw three interceptions.
“When you play a team that throws the ball as much as they do you have to put pressure on the quarterback,” Welch said. “We forced him into some bad throws and were fortunate enough to pick some passes off.”
Junior cornerback Mike Conti led the way for the defense with seven tackles, an interception and a sack, and sophomore safety Josh Liemer recorded a career–day intercepting two passes and recording six tackles including one for a loss.
The Bombers, now 1–0 in Empire 8 conference play, and will travel to St. John the Fisher next Saturday to take on the defending conference champions. The win marked the 11th time in 12 attempts the Bombers won their homecoming game and they have now beaten Hartwick four-straight times in homecoming games.