Football beat writer Christian Araos gives his reaction from the Bombers’ dramatic 27-24 comeback victory against Union College on Saturday.
New year, same drama
If you want a college football team that is capable of making your heart stop every week, look no further than the Ithaca College Bombers. Seven of the team’s last 12 games, dating back to last season, have been decided by less than a touchdown. In that span, two games have gone to overtime, and three have been decided on the game’s last play. Saturday’s drama stood out because it was the first time in Bomber history that they came back from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win a game.
Neumann is a new man
For the first time in his career, junior quarterback Phil Neumann won the game for the Blue and Gold. Neumann went 20 of 35 for 190 yards, but the stats only tell half the story. In the first half, Neumann, by his own admission, was missing his targets. In the second half, he was on point and completed eight of nine passes in the fourth quarter, with two touchdowns. The first drive was a master class in passing efficiency when the Bombers went 71 yards in just over three and a half minutes. The second score showed a killer instinct that the Bomber offense lacked throughout most of the game. The Blue and Gold were stopped twice on fourth down inside Union’s 10-yard line earlier in the contest.
The Bomber defense was, for the most part, very reliable as they kept the Union offense at bay. Junior safety Tom Scanlon ran a fumble back 56 yards to tie the game at seven midway through the second quarter. The most impressive aspect was the way the Bombers were able to rush sophomore quarterback Connor Eck without having to use blitzes. This is a credit to the Bomber defensive line, which has gotten bigger in the off-season.
In three games, new Empire 8 Conference member Buffalo State has shown itself to be one of the most riveting teams in Division III. The latest chapter of the Bengals’ season may be the greatest moment in their program’s history, as they recorded a shocking 7-6 win against the top-ranked University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Junior quarterback Casey Kacz connected with freshman wide receiver Ryan Carney for a 10-yard touchdown with three seconds left in the fourth quarter. Buffalo State’s victory snapped the Warhawks’ winning streak at 46, which was the fourth-best streak in college football history.