For the second time in two weeks, the football team lost in the final minute of the game after failing to score a touchdown in the second half, losing to the Hobart College Statesmen 22–15 in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament on Nov. 22 in Geneva, New York.
The Statesmen (11–0) outgained the Bombers (7–4) 156 to minus-15 in the fourth quarter and sealed the South Hill squad’s elimination with a one-yard touchdown run from senior quarterback Patrick Conlon with 13 seconds remaining. Conlon threw three interceptions and lost a fumble in the first half but rebounded in the second half by rushing for a team-high 62 yards and two touchdowns. Statesmen head coach Mike Cragg said Conlon’s second half resurgence was the reason Hobart is moving on to the second round
“Pat Conlon would not be sitting up here if he had played in the second half the way he played in the first half,” Cragg said. “In halftime, I told him we’re not going to win this without you. For that guy to turn our offense around and to have everyone keep believing in him and what we’re capable of doing was unbelievable.”
Cragg added that he felt Hobart was in a great position because the Blue and Gold had only led his 12–0 despite his offense’s mistakes. The Bombers scored on all four of their trips to the red zone but only scored one touchdown as senior kicker Garrett Nicholson set a career-high with three field goals. Senior quarterback Tom Dempsey gave the Bombers the early lead throwing a 21-yard touchdown to senior wide receiver Chris Bauer but finished the day completing only 16 of 31 passes for 178 yards. Dempsey noted the offense’s poor execution and Hobart’s pass rush.
“We were able to move the ball okay but we really struggled to get the ball into the end zone,” Dempsey said. “They brought a lot of pressure and more guys than we could block. At that point, it’s my job to find an open receiver and get the ball out of my hands and into their hands.”
The Statesmen outscored the Bombers 22–3 in the second half and scored the game’s final 15 points. Conlon rebounded in the second half to lead the Statesmen in rushing with 62 yards. He attributed his success running the ball to Ithaca’s decision to consistently drop eight men into pass coverage.
“We still wanted to throw the ball a little bit in the second half,” Conlon said. “We needed to sustain drives in the second half whether it was through the run or the pass.”
The Bombers’ season is over while the Statesmen will play Johns Hopkins University on Nov. 29.