Walsh leads Fisher past Bridgewater State

Courtesy of athletics.SJFC.edu

PITTSFORD, N.Y. – The St. John Fisher College football team ran 75 plays to the tune of nearly 400 yards and came away with six takeaways on the day as the Cardinals improved to 2-0 on the season behind a 35-28 win over visiting Bridgewater State on Saturday inside Growney Stadium.  With the win, Fisher extended its winning streak to four games dating back to last season while the Bears will head into week three with an 0-2 record on the year.

Defensively, Fisher completely halted Bridgewater’s running game with the Bears accruing just seven rushing yards on 27 attempts.  The Cardinals also finished the game with a season-high four interceptions and forced six turnovers in all, which is their most in a game since last season’s win over Hartwick.

After punting on their opening possession, the Cardinals would burst through the line as the Bears fumbled the pitch and catch with John Cleary (Fairport) pouncing on the ball at the Bridgewater 49.  With a fresh set of downs and the ball at midfield, Fisher needed just one play to put the visitors in a hole as Hunter Walsh (McQuaid) uncorked a 49-yard pass that hit Pat Galer in stride for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

Down by a score, Bridgewater took the field, but would run just one play as sophomore Jason Rodriguez out-muscled the Bears’ receiver for an interception to give head coach Paul Vosburgh‘s team the ball back inside Bridgewater territory.  From there, Fisher used just 39 seconds and doubled its lead to 14-0 after Dahmir Pross (Bishop Kearney) broke to the outside and scurried 15-yards to paydirt to make it a two-score game.

Trailing by 14 points with time running out in the first quarter, Bridgewater would respond after a botched punt gave the Bears the ball at the Fisher 23.  Two plays later, Bridgewater completed a 10-yard pass over the middle to make it 14-7 heading into the second period.

After trading possessions over the first seven minutes of the second quarter, Bridgewater orchestrated an 8-play drive capped off with a 39-yard strike downfield to make it a 14-13 game.  The Bears, however, would miss the ensuing extra point as Fisher held the lead by a slim margin heading into the halftime break.

Coming out of intermission, Fisher would turn to Pross as the running back carried the ball three times over a 4-play drive including a 22-yard carry that set up a short touchdown run to make it 21-8 with 8:07 still on the clock.

After a 55-yard kickoff pinned the Bears inside their own 20, Fisher’s defense struck again as Evan Strassberger came up with an interception at the 40-yard line that he took to the house, but the touchdown would be waived off after a block in the back brought the ball back to the Bridgewater 32.  With new life and the offense on the field, the Cardinals grinded out 32 yards over seven plays with Hunter Walsh scrambling in for his first-career rushing touchdown that made it 28-13.

With fewer than two minutes remaining in the quarter, Bridgewater would go on the offensive as the Bears bridged the third and fourth quarters with a 6-play drive that resulted in a 25-yard pass to the back of the endzone that cut the Cardinals’ lead to 28-19.  The Bears would convert the two-point conversion to make it a one score game as Fisher’s offense trotted back on to the field with a 28-21 edge.

With momentum beginning to swing in Bridgewater’s favor, Fisher was unable to get much going on the ground as the Bears came up with back-to-back stops to force a third-and-long.  With the ball near midfield, Walsh showed poise beyond his years as the freshman stepped up in the pocket and delivered a 49-yard touchdown pass to TySean Sizer (Irondequoit) to stake the home team to a 35-21 cushion.

Down by two touchdowns and facing an uphill climb, Bridgewater looked to air it out as the Bears strung together an 11-play, 65-yard scoring drive highlighted by five first downs to cut the deficit to just seven, 35-28.

With 2:41 still remaining in the game, Fisher needed a first down to put the contest on ice.  After failing to get much traction on first and second down, the Cardinals were aided by a pass interference call that gave them a fresh set of downs.  With Bridgewater having used its final timeout to stop the clock earlier in the drive, Fisher was able to take a knee until the final whistle sounded on the non-conference win.

Walsh was 13-for-35 in the win with 239 yards, two touchdowns and a pick.  The Rochester native also rushed 22 yards and a score.

Pross finished with a game-high 72 yards on 21 carries to go along with two touchdowns.  The Bishop Kearney graduate now has four scores on the year.  Sizer carried the ball twice and picked up 33 yards overall while Ryan Ingerson added 21 hard-fought yards.

The Cardinals had six different receivers catch at least one pass in the win led by Sizer who hauled in three balls for a team-high 79 yards and a touchdown while Will Blake (Webster Schroeder) added 73 receiving yards on four grabs.  Galer had two catches for 66 yards and a touchdown while Matt Mackinder made two catches.

Defensively, Strassberger finished with a team-leading 11 tackles and an interception while Durrel Hutcherson had seven stops in all.  Tony SIlvanic was credited with seven tackles, a half sack and a fumble recovery while Cleary was in the backfield all game with four tackles for a loss including two-and-a-half sacks and a forced fumble.  Rodriguez added three tackles and two interceptions downfield while Jack Fitzgerald finished with a pick of his own in the win.

The Cardinals are back in action at 12 p.m. on Saturday when they welcome The College of New Jersey to Growney Stadium in what will mark the two programs’ first-ever meeting on the gridiron.  The game will also coincide with Alumni and Family Weekend.  To learn more about what the College has in store, please visit https://www.sjfc.edu/special-event/.

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