Fisher football struggles offensively against Cortland

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CORTLAND, N.Y. – The St. John Fisher College football team had three takeaways on Saturday, but was unable to come out on top as the Cardinals fell to SUNY Cortland on the road, 22-3, at a soggy Cortland Stadium Complex.  With the loss, Fisher fell to 1-6 overall and 1-4 in the Empire 8 while the Red Dragons improved to 7-1 overall and 5-1 against Empire 8 opposition.

In all, Fisher tallied 206 total yards of offense including 95 yards on the ground.  Malachi Duvall (Webster Schroeder) led the way on the ground with 64 yards including a career-long 37-yard burst.  Cam Cleveland (East Rochester) had 33 rushing yards on a pair of carries while Ryan Ingerson accounted for eight yards in all.

Joshua Michels (Brockport) returned from injury and was 10-for-26 for 105 yards and an interception.  In all, Michels found five receivers with Cleveland hauling in five catches for 20 yards.  Pat Galer had two receptions for a team-high 64 yards including a 57-yard grab while Will Blake (Webster Schroeder) made three catches in the loss for 18 yards.

Neither team was able to find its footing on the wet turf as the game got underway with five punts over the first nine minutes of play.  After taking over on its own 30 following a 43-yard punt from senior Michael Burton, Cortland strung together 10 plays and moved the ball 54 yards before settling for a 33-yard field goal to open up a 3-0 lead heading into the second quarter.

The Red Dragons were poised to add to their lead midway through the stanza after working inside the Fisher 20.  Cortland moved the sticks again with a 12-yard run and pushed the ball to the Fisher two yard line, but was unable to break the goal line as the Cardinals’ defense came up with back-to-back stops including a goal line stand on fourth down to keep it a one score game.

After taking over on downs with its heels on its own goal line, Fisher looked to create some breathing room on the ground, but Cortland had other ideas as the Red Dragons bottled up the middle and notched a safety to take a 5-0 lead.

Coming out of halftime, Cortland made it a 12-0 game after reeling off a 97-yard kickoff return to open up the third quarter.  Fisher, however, responded in a big way with Duvall moving the chains twice including a 37-yard run to move the ball down to the Cortland 30.  From there, Michels handed the ball off to Cleveland on an end-around that resulted in 27 yards as the Cardinals had a first and 10 at the Cortland 2.  Fisher would pick up a yard on the next play and had three chances to find pay dirt, however, the Red Dragons were able to claim three goal line stops to keep Fisher off the scoreboard.

The hosts would score again later in the third as a 41-yard field goal capped off a seven-play, 47-yard drive to stake the home team to a 15-0 lead with 3:26 left to go in the third.

The Cardinals weren’t able to gain much on the first two plays of their ensuing drive until Michels connected with Galer for a 57-yard strike down the sideline to put Fisher in business at the Cortland 10.  The drive stalled, however, as Fisher sent out the field goal unit, as Joe Dotterweich converted a 24-yard kick to pull Fisher to within 15-3.

Both teams continued to trade possessions down the stretch until the Red Dragons went up by 19 points courtesy of a seven-play, 65-yard drive late in the fourth quarter that ended with a seven-yard touchdown pass to make it 22-3.

Cameron Bellino led the defense with 13 tackles including six solo stops while Tony Silvanic made 11 tackles in all.  Evan Majewski had 10 tackles while William Riechert had nine stops to go along a sack.  Demarre Nelson (East Rochester) contributed nine tackles and had three pass breakups while LeMar Peters had seven tackles and a sack.

Burton had nine punts for Fisher on special teams including a career-long 64-yard punt.  Burton pinned Cortland inside its own 20 twice and averaged 33.9 yards per kick.

The Cardinals will continue their season on the road at 1 p.m. when they travel to Alfred to take on the Saxons at Yunevich Stadium in an Empire 8 contest.

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