ITHACA, N.Y. - Ithaca scored touchdowns on its first four possessions on the way to a 34-6 halftime lead, and the Bombers held off a brief Cortland second-half rally to defeat the Red Dragons, 48-20, in the 59th annual Cortaca Jug rivalry game.
With the victory, Ithaca snapped Cortland's seven-year winning streak in the series between the foes separated by about 20 miles on Route 13 in Central New York. Ithaca improved to 7-3 with the non-league victory, while Cortland closed the regular season with a 6-4 mark. Cortland will compete in the inaugural New York State Bowl, at a Liberty League team to be announced, next Saturday, Nov. 18.
Ithaca quarterback Wahid Nabi completed 27-of-37 passes for 329 yards and a school record six touchdowns. Will Gladney caught five passes for 91 yards and two scores, Andrew Vito finished with 10 catches for 116 yards and a touchdown, and Jared Bauer, Jack Yule and JR Zazzara each caught a scoring pass.
Cortland quarterback Steven Ferreira (West Sayville/Sayville) finished 15-of-35 passing for 164 yards, and he also ran 13 times for 58 yards and two scores. He became Cortland's career leader with 6,039 passing yards, eclipsing the previous mark of 6,007 set by J.J. Tutwiler from 2000-03.
Ferreira was held without a TD pass, however, for the first time this season and just the second time in his 24 career games as a Red Dragon. Alex Wasserman (Closter, NJ/Northern Valley Demarest) caught seven passes for 106 yards, but had a potential 79-yard TD reception late in the first half called back due to a holding penalty.
Mark DeLuise (Wayne, NJ/Wayne Valley) led Cortland's defense with 12 tackles, eight solo, and an interception. Brandon Lewis (Monroe/Monroe-Woodbury) made a career-high 10 tackles, seven solo. Kenny Bradley paced Ithaca's defense with eight tackles and Brian Gill finished with six stops, including 1.5 sacks, along with a pass breakup. Ithaca finished with a 410-292 edge in total offense, including a 307-104 margin in the first half.
Ithaca took only four plays to score on the game's opening possession. Gladney caught a 27-yard TD pass from Nabi with 13:43 left in the first, but the extra point was missed. The Bombers marched 62 yards on their next drive, capped by a Gladney 4-yard scoring catch. After another missed PAT kick, Ithaca led 12-0.
Cortland started its next possession at midfield after a Zach Tripodi (New Fairfield, CT) 37-yard kickoff return. Wasserman caught a 27-yard pass on the second play of the drive, and Tripodi eventually finished the series with a 2-yard TD run. Cortland missed the PAT kick - its first miss of the season - and trailed 12-6 with 4:52 still left in the first quarter.
Ithaca responded with a 75-yard TD drive that took only four plays and 1:20 off the clock. Gladney caught 15-yard and 37-yard passes, and twoplays later Nabi found Yule for a 18-yard touchdown. Vito's two-point conversion catch gave Ithaca a 20-6 lead.
The Bombers extended the lead to 27-6 on a 12-yard Vito TD catch just seven seconds into the second quarter. That scoring drive covered only 25 yards after a Pat Minogue interception. Ithaca added a 17-yard TD pass from Nabi to Zazzara with 22 seconds left in the quarter to establish its 34-6 halftime lead.
Cortland made things interesting with touchdowns on its first two possessions of the second half. The Red Dragons moved 70 yards on eight plays, capped by a Ferreira 13-yard TD run around the left side. Wasserman caught two passes for 38 yards during that drive. DeLuise intercepted a pass on Ithaca's next possession to set up Cortland at its own 43-yard line, and seven plays later Ferreira ran in from nine yards out and the Red Dragons trailed 34-20 with 6:02 left in the third.
Ithaca, however, mounted a crucial 59-yard scoring drive on its next possession to take a 41-20 lead. Nabi found Gladney for eight yards on 3rd-and-7 just beyond midfield to keep the drive going, and eventually connected with Bauer for a 10-yard score on 3rd-and-8 with 2:34 left in the quarter.
Cortland's next two possessions resulted in a punt and a turnover on downs, and Ithaca finished the scoring on a Tristan Brown 2-yard TD run with 2:59 left in the contest.