Despite a strong effort at a comeback in the second half, the Cortland Red Dragons fell to the Ithaca Bombers, 20-32, in the 61st annual Cortaca Jug Game at MetLife Stadium.
The rivalry game set an NCAA Division III attendance record of 45,161, according to Metlife Stadium; outshining the previous record from the game between St. Thomas vs. St. John's at Target Field in Minneapolis of 37,355 attendees in 2017.
It was a difficult first half for the Red Dragons, with Ithaca’s defense forcing two fumbles and taking a 6-19 lead at the end of the first half.
Coming into the third quarter, the Bombers scored one more touchdown to give themselves a 20 point lead (6-26) against the Dragons.
However, the Red Dragons answered back with senior running back and captain, Zach Tripodi running in and scoring two touchdowns of their own in a row. This made it a one score game (20-26) with 6:53 left on the clock.
“I thought our defense was containing them (Ithaca’s offense) to a passing attack,” said Cortland head coach Dan MacNeill at the post-game press conference. “Typically the offense that we were facing were making big plays on other people. So we tried to put our kids on the best case scenario. When you sit down on two wide receivers and a pass game, it tends to open up the running game a little bit. They kind of knew it and featured their quarterback as a running back a lot and that’s difficult. We thought that the game was right at half-time. We just needed to continue to work at it and make those plays. And I think our kids came out (on the second half) and settled more with regards in making these plays. The offense spiked up the momentum and tightened up a little bit to make it a classic Cortaca Jug game for a while.”
Tripodi scored all three of Cortland’s touchdowns and finished with a total of 61 rushing yards and 16 receiving yards throughout the game.
“It was definitely a blessing to come in here (MetLife Stadium) and feel the electricity,” said Tripodi at the post-game press conference. “It was unreal, especially coming out in the second half with the stands full. I have to say that when I scored, I don’t think that I’ve ever felt something like that. You literally feel the crowd. It was a great experience and I’m sure everyone on our team felt the same way.”
With minimal time left and the game on the line, Ithaca’s next drive was the most important one of the game.
The Red Dragons used two of their time-outs to hold Ithaca to a third-down and long with a little more than four minutes left on the clock. But Ithaca’s quarterback Joe Germinerio saw junior wide receiver Andrew Vito open down the field and launched a 46 yard touchdown pass to call it game with 3:06 remaining on the clock.
Here are some more photos of last night's Cortaca Jug Game (All photos are provided by Ross Cohen/Cortland Voice):