Courtesy of athletics.SJFC.edu
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Sophomore transfer Dahmir Pross (Bishop Kearney) had two touchdowns and over 100 rushing yards on the day as the St. John Fisher College football team came out on top in its season-opener as the Cardinals forced three turnovers in a 23-6 win over Buffalo State at Coyer Field. The Cardinals, who have now won three in a row dating back to last season including a pair against Buffalo State, racked up 336 yards of offense and held the Bengals to just 53 yards on the ground in the win.
After a quick three and out to start the game for Fisher, the Cardinals’ defense took the field and looked in mid-season form. With the Bengals’ quarterback under center, junior linebacker Justin Wheeler burst through the line and dropped the signal caller for a loss of eight. From there, Vince DiMonte followed suit with a six-yard tackle for a loss before Jack Fitzgerald jumped an inside route and came away with an interception to give the Cardinals the ball back at their own 45.
With the ball near midfield, freshman quarterback Hunter Walsh (McQuaid) handed it off to Pross in the backfield as the back earned 22 yards and a fresh set of downs at the Buffalo State 33. After converting a fourth and three with a nine-yard pass to Pat Galer, the Cardinals would be further aided by a pass interference call to spot the ball at the Bengals’ four-yard line. From there, Pross burst to the outside and into the endzone for his first touchdown in a Fisher uniform that made it 7-0.
Leading by a touchdown to begin the second quarter, Fisher took over deep inside the Bengals’ turf following a shanked punt that spotted the ball at the 28. Fisher would move the chains on third down as Pross picked up a first down on the ground, however, the home team stood its ground as Joe Dotterweich came on to convert a 33-yard field goal to give the Cardinals a two-score edge, 10-0.
As the second quarter wore down, Fisher was poised to add to its lead after Anthony Manna came up with an interception on the Cardinals’ 31. After going to the ground on first down, a 31-yard pass from Walsh to Will Blake (Webster Schroeder) gave the Cardinals’ offense a first down at the Buffalo State 31. On the ensuing play, Fisher looked to air it out again as the Bengals were whistled for another pass interference call to move the ball to the 16. Facing a fourth and long, Fisher sent the field goal unit out onto the field, but was unable to tack on three points as the lead remained at 10 points.
With time running out in the half, the Bengals began to find their groove as they picked up four first downs and worked the ball all the way down to the Cardinals’ 12-yard line before Jason Rodriguez ended the threat after nabbing Fisher’s third interception of the half to keep it a 10-0 affair at intermission.
Coming out of the break, Fisher’s defense continued to give the home team all it could handle as the Cardinals forced another quick three-and-out before taking over at their own 38. After completing a pass to TySean Sizer for nine yards, Pross would pick up a first down with his legs. Two plays later, the Rochester native was at it again after scrambling for 18 yards before Ryan Ingerson picked up 16 on the next play with a run up the gut. With a fresh set of downs and the ball at the Bengals’ 13, Fisher was unable to cross the goal line as Dotterweich kicked a 28-yard field goal to cap off an 11-play, 51-yard drive to make it 13-0.
Up by 13 midway through the third, Fisher struck again on its next drive with a six-play, 70-yard drive highlighted by a 46-yard hookup between Walsh and Blake before Pross broke the goal line for his second score of the day to give the visitors a 20-point cushion.
With momentum on Fisher’s side and under five minutes remaining in the quarter, Buffalo State got on the board with a scoring drive of its own as the Bengals picked up a pair of first downs before a 45-yard touchdown toss cut the deficit to 14 points, 20-6, heading into the final frame.
Undaunted, Fisher continued to march down the field in the fourth as Dotterweich would drill his third field goal of the game after a 41-yard attempt bounced off and over the crossbar to push the Cardinals’ advantage to 23-6.
With time running out, the Bengals began to show some urgency, but would be unable to find any kind of rhythm as Fisher’s defense took over on downs twice to close out the win.
Walsh was 12-for-27 with 185 yards through the air in his first collegiate start. In all, six different players recorded a reception led by Blake who hauled in five catches for 110 yards. Sizer made three grabs for 30 yards while Chris Park, Cole Harper, Galer and Pross all made one catch in the win.
On the ground, Pross finished with 115 yards on 23 attempts to go along with two touchdowns while Ingerson added 54 yards on 11 carries.
Defensively, Wheeler had 13 tackles including five for a loss and a game-high three sacks while DiMonte had nine stops including six solo tackles. Rodriguez had five tackles at the safety position and one interception while Anthony Manna and Fitzgerald each finished with five tackles apiece to go along with a pick.
Fisher will look to keep its momentum alive at 12 p.m. on Saturday when it opens the home portion of its schedule with Bridgewater State University at Growney Stadium in what will mark the two teams’ first-ever matchup.