he three Cortaca Jugs have returned to Ithaca College as the Bombers defeated SUNY Cortland 48–20 Nov. 11 in front of 11,000 fans at Butterfield Stadium. Freshman quarterback Wahid Nabi set a school record with six passing touchdowns in one game. On Nov. 15, Nabi was named Liberty League rookie of the year.
With the win, the South Hill squad snapped the Red Dragon’s seven–year win-streak, and sophomore wide receiver Will Gladney became the third Bomber to receive record more than 1,000 yards in one season.
With 11,000 people attending the game with increased security, many fans missed the start of the game waiting in long lines outside of the stadium. Once fans were able to get into the stadium, they were excited to see the Blue and Gold win.
“It’s something we’ll always remember,” Ewanow said. “We don’t get to be another graduating class that never got to see a win against Cortland.”
Senior Matt Dilorenzo said it was great to see his first win as a senior, but wished the score was closer.
“Seeing them get that win was great, but they got up so early in the game I never got that strong feeling of victory at the end of the game because they ran away with it so early,” he said.
President Shirley M. Collado participated in the pre–game coin toss and returned to the field for the end of the game. In the stands, Collado interacted with students, who cheered when she walked past.
The Bombers got off to an incredibly quick start, scoring just one minute and 17 seconds into the game when, on the fourth play of their first drive, Nabi connected with Gladney for a 27–yard touchdown.
Nabi found Gladney in the end zone for a second time on the Bombers’ next drive from three yards out for Gladney’s fourth touchdown in two Cortaca Jug games.
Cortland head coach Dan MacNeill said his team’s inability to stop Gladney was a large factor in the loss.
With less than 11 minutes left in the first quarter, Max Jean, a junior defensive back for the Red Dragons, was ejected from the game for targeting. Players are called for targeting when they hit defenseless opponents with the crown of their helmet or above the other athlete’s shoulders.
“The player who was supposed to be covering him was the young man who got ejected from the game,” MacNeill said. “Things went awry for us early in the game, and we didn’t recover very well.”
Gladney said he loves playing in the Cortaca environment.
“It’s an awesome game to be a part of,” Gladney said. “My energy level is a little bit higher, especially because we were home.”
With less than five minutes left in the first quarter, the Red Dragons scored for the first time when sophomore running back Zach Tripodi ran for two yards.Tripodi’s two yard run was set up when Cortland received the ball at the 50 yard line and their senior quarterback Steven Ferreira made to two passes, totaling 41 yards.
With three minutes and 25 seconds left in the first quarter, Nabi threw an 18-yard pass to senior tight end Jack Yule for the third Bomber touchdown. After junior kicker David Prudhomme missed the extra point kick for the first two touchdowns, the Blue and Gold decided to go for a two-point conversion. Nabi’s pass to freshman wide receiver Andrew Vito was good, bringing the score to 20–6.
Nabi continued his strong play into the second quarter when he linked up with Vito from 12 yards away for his fourth touchdown of the game on the first play of the quarter.
Vito said everyone on the team performed to at their best ability in this game.
“Everyone showed up,” Vito said. “Everyone made plays. Five different receivers had touchdowns, and we put it all together today.”
Nabi finished off the first half with his fifth touchdown pass. He found junior wide receiver JR Zazzara for a 17–yard touchdown with 22 seconds remaining in the second quarter to make the score 34–6.
Nabi said his success was a product of how the defense played him.
“We were just executing the best we could based on what we saw,” Nabi said. “The receivers did a great job making plays for me, and the offensive linemen blocked their tails off.”
Head coach Dan Swanstrom said Nabi’s strong performance early in the game allowed him to confidently call a variety of plays for Nabi later.
“He made really good reads all over the field, and the more locked in he got with making decisions, the more comfortable I got calling more plays for him,” Swanstrom said.
Ferreira kicked off the second half looking to bring the Red Dragons back, as he ran in two touchdowns of 13 and nine yards, respectively, on the Red Dragon’s first two drives of the half.
The Red Dragons did not score again in the game and Mike Toerper, the Bombers’ defensive coordinator, said he was very impressed with the defense’s effort.
“I liked the way we fought,” Toerper said. “We weren’t perfect in our execution, but I loved our poise when things started to go wrong. We stayed even, keeled and continued to play, and the result was good enough.”
Nabi responded to Ferreira’s touchdowns by throwing his sixth touchdown of the game, this one to senior wide receiver Jared Bauer for 10 yards.
Nabi said he was proud of how he and his teammates played.
“This win was a big statement for us and what we’re trying to do with this program,” Nabi said. “It’s a great feeling and I think everyone did a great job today.”
Junior defensive lineman Marc Barbieri said that he was motivated by all of the former players and students who had been longing for a Cortaca victory. Barbieri’s brother, Rob Barbieri ’17, is a former defensive lineman on the Blue and Gold and never beat Cortland.
“It was really important to a lot of guys, especially me, who have history with this team, to come out and play our best to represent all these alumni that come out and give us endless amounts of support throughout all the years,” Barbieri said. “They always believed in us, and we just wanted to give back to them.”
Senior running back Tristan Brown said he was glad to see his teammates play their best against their biggest rival.
“We’ve worked so hard all season,” Brown said. “We finally got the big game, put everything together and played a pretty complete game. I’m happy to bring the jugs back home.”
Coaching his first Cortaca Jug game, Swanstrom said he relished the opportunity to coach in this setting.
“I played high school football in Texas, I grew up playing in these environments,” Swanstrom said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been around something like this, but I enjoyed the environment, the excitement, the electricity and how loud it was, and I’m excited our players get an experience like this.”
The Red Dragon’s win streak in the rivalry ends at seven, which was two wins away from tying the longest winning streak in the match-up’s history. The Bombers won nine straight Cortaca games between 1973–81. MacNeill said he’s already looking ahead with the streak finished.
“The win streak was fun,” MacNeill said. “It’s a tribute to the players who played in those games. This was, without question, a disappointment, so all you can do now is look forward.”
Despite missing the NCAA Division III Football Tournament because Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute defeated Union College 20–14 to claim the Liberty League Conference Championship, the Bombers will still play in a postseason game. The Blue and Gold will head to Newark, Delaware, to take on Salisbury University at 5 p.m. Nov. 18 in the Scotty Whitelaw Bowl as part of the East Coast Athletic Conference Division III Football Fest.