The football team has committed to junior Jason Hendel as its quarterback after rotating through players in the first two games of the season, depending on the offensive packages they wanted to run.
The offensive stability began against Union College, resulting in a 37-18 win, and continued through the South Hill squad’s 27-13 victory over Hartwick College last
Saturday. Hendel has thrown every pass for Ithaca College in both wins.
Hendel has been remarkably consistent during the two-game winning streak. In both games, the junior went 18 for 26, throwing for a combined total of 371 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions.
But Hendel is also a threat in the running game. He ran for two touchdowns in the win against Union College and is currently the second leading rusher on the team.
Hendel said mobility in the pocket was a facet of his game that allowed him to make plays when defenders bombarded him.
“You know it’s always at certain points an option,” he said. “So if something happens — our receivers aren’t open or a pocket breaks down, they bring too many guys, and we can’t pick them up on the blitz — then running happens.”
Senior captain and guard Gregory Peck said Hendel’s knack for sustaining drives has allowed the offense to be productive in long distance situations.
“One of his best attributes is his ability to move the sticks — the first downs, the ability to keep the play alive,” Peck said.
Hendel said he committed to improving day by day during the time when he was splitting time with sophomore Phil Neumann at quarterback early in the season.
“Just really working at the little things from footwork to release points, really becoming perfect with the system and trying to be consistent,” he said. “I played my role and did what I had to do, and when the time came and I had the opportunity to step up, I just kind of went after it.”
Hendel’s big chance to earn the starting role came during the Sept. 10 loss to the Salisbury University Seagulls. Hendel took over midway through the game and provided a necessary spark to the offense. Though the game resulted in a 21-7 loss, he was able to break through the Seagull’s defense, which surrendered only 15 points per game last season, to carry the ball eight times for a total of 47 yards.
Sophomore running back Sal Sulla said even when Hendel makes an error, he is able to maintain mental toughness.
“Jason’s always positive, and if he makes a mistake or if anybody else makes a mistake, he’s just constantly reminding us there are other plays, just move on and forget about it,” Sulla said.
Peck said the confidence the team has in Hendel will propel the team to more victories.
“We have a saying on the team,” he said. “‘Trust the guy next to you to do his job, and make sure you get your job done.’ We just really focus on our job and trust everybody around us, and that’s what makes us a solid team.”