The No. 24–ranked Ithaca College football team host SUNY Brockport on Community Appreciation Day at 1 p.m. Oct. 17 at Butterfield Stadium. The Bombers are 2–0 in regular season play and 2–1 in Empire 8 conference play.
Spotlight Matchup: Dan Andrews vs. the Bombers’ Run Defense
This weekend’s contest will showcase a blockbuster showdown, pitting Brockport junior Dan Andrews, the nation’s No. 4–ranked running back who is averaging 173 rushing yardage per game, against the Bombers’ defense, which is the No. 3–ranked rush defense in the nation.
Through five games this year, Andrews has led the nation in total rushing touchdowns with 14. He also ranks third in the nation in total rushing yardage with 865 total yards gained, as well as 24th in yards per carry with an average of 6.8 per touch.
The Bombers’ defense, on the other hand, has so far gobbled up opposing running backs. On average, the Bombers’ defense surrenders 55 rushing yards to opposing offenses, while opposing running backs can only squeeze out 1.9 yards per carry against this vaunted defensive unit.
Both sides will be facing their toughest test yet as they open up the second half of the season.
The key for the Bombers’ defense is clearly to detain the explosiveness of Andrews. By doing so, it will force shaky Brockport quarterback senior Wayne Bonsell to throw to a Bombers pass defense that tops in the Empire 8 in defense pass efficiency, 95.8. Bonsell has thrown all of his five interceptions of the season in the past three ballgames.
Encore, Encore … ?
To say senior captain and defensive lineman Logan Murphy put on a clinic during last weekend’s victory over Hartwick would be an understatement, as he had Hartwick senior quarterback John Garcia dancing all over the field as if he were one of the Rockettes.
Murphy’s career-high in sacks of 4.5 and six total tackles for loss left the bruised offensive unit for the Hawks with the taste of turf in its mouth as it wobbled off the field after every possession. Murphy’s six total tackles for loss were the most from an Ithaca College student-athlete since 2002, as his overall performance earned him D3Football.com Team of the Week honors.
Expecting a repeat of this godly performance out of Murphy might be a stretch, right? Well, in the words of Lee Corso, ESPN College GameDay analyst, “Not so fast, my friend!”
The beefy Brockport offensive line has allowed a gaudy total of 10 sacks in its last three games, after surrendering no sacks through the squad’s first two games. Expect Murphy to exploit those cracks in Brockport’s brick wall and to pad his season totals of 5.5 sacks and 10 total tackles for loss.
Tighten Up in the Red Zone
If the Bombers No. 23–ranked total defense had an Achilles’ heel, it could be found in the red-zone proficiency department. Very few have been able to penetrate the Bombers’ red zone. In fact, only 12 times all season have opposing offenses had the luxury. When they have, however, they have been quite successful.
Out of those 12 occasions, 10 times the opposing offense has scored in the college’s red zone, an 83 percent success rate. Seven out of those 10 red zone scores have been of the touchdown variety, and six out of those seven touchdowns have come on the ground.
Luckily for the Blue and Gold, the Golden Eagles have been inconsistent in the red zone this season. Though they have reached opposing red zones a hefty 34 times, they have only scored 24 times, a 71 percent success rate that tied for 160th nationally.
The college’s defense needs to keep Brockport out of the end zone and force junior kicker Tyler Perna to attempt field goals. Perna is only 2–5 on the season, although the two of his attempts have been blocked.
Keep Pace in the Title Race
No matter what, with a win against Brockport, the college will move up in the Empire 8 standings. The Bombers are currently tied for second place with Alfred in the conference, following Utica and SUNY Cortland.
Alfred has a date away at conference-leader Cortland at 1 p.m. Oct. 17 in Cortland, while St. John Fisher will host Utica at 1 p.m. Oct. 17 in Rochester, New York.
With an Alfred loss to Cortland and an Utica loss to St. John Fisher, the college will have the opportunity of leaping two spots up the standings for sole possession of second place in the Empire 8.
However, if Cortland were to fall to Alfred, and Utica were to still lose to St. John Fisher, the Bombers, with a win against Brockport, would pull to a tie with Alfred for first place and the throne of the Empire 8.