Courtesy of athletics.SJFC.edu
PITTSFORD, N.Y. – With temperatures hovering around 27 degrees on Saturday, junior Joe Dotterweich kicked a game-winning 28-yard field as the St. John Fisher College football team scored 11 unanswered points and finished the regular season at 5-5 after downing Alfred University, 31-28, in an Empire 8 tilt inside Growney Stadium. Fisher, which honored its senior class prior to kickoff, closed out the day at 2-4 in the conference standings while Alfred moved to 5-5, 2-4, respectively with the loss.
The Cardinals, who are now bowl eligible with the win, will await their postseason fate, which will be announced by the ECAC office on Monday.
The Cardinals’ offense racked up nearly 450 yards of total offense on 85 plays including 324 passing yards as head coach Paul Vosburgh‘s squad produced 26 first downs overall. In all, the Cardinals held Alfred to just 46 plays and maintained possession of the football for nearly 18 minutes longer than their opponent.
Freshman quarterback Hunter Walsh (McQuaid) finished the day with 324 yards through the air on 33-of-46 passing including two touchdowns. The Rochester native hit nine different receivers in all led by junior TySean Sizer (Irondequoit) who finished with 144 receiving yards and a touchdown while senior Will Blake (Webster Schroeder) pulled down a game-high 12 catches for 87 yards to finish the regular season just seven yards shy of 1,000 yards. Pat Galer added four catches for 35 yards while Johnathan Letta (Hilton) made four grabs for 22 yards and a touchdown.
On the ground, sophomore back Dahmir Pross (Bishop Kearney) broke the 100-yard plateau for the second consecutive game and fifth time this season after racking up 118 yards on 27 carries.
After a scoreless first quarter of play, the Cardinals were first to get on the board in the second period after orchestrating a season-best 17-play drive that featured four first downs before Ryan Ingerson capped off the drive with a 2-yard run up the gut to make it 7-0.
The Saxons would get on the board two drives later as Alfred covered 48 yards over eight plays including a 12-yard touchdown strike that knotted the game up at 7-7 with under a minute to go before halftime.
With the game tied up and just 47 seconds remaining in the first half, Fisher went to work as Walsh hit Blake on the sideline for 12 yards. From there, Fisher was unable to pick up much ground and sent out the punting unit, however, Alfred would be flagged for a personal foul that moved the sticks 15 yards and afforded the Cardinals a fresh set of downs in Saxons’ territory. With the ball at the Alfred 32, Walsh would air out a pass to the end zone that came down into the waiting hands of Sizer for a touchdown as the clock expired to send the Cardinals into the locker room holding a 14-7 edge.
Coming out of the break, Fisher would tack on three more points after a 22-yard field goal from Dotterweich finished off a 14-play drive that made it a two-score affair, 17-7, midway through the third quarter.
After forcing Alfred into a three-and-out, Fisher’s offense went back out on to the field only to have the Saxons force and recover a fumble at midfield. The visitors made the most of their new life as they marched 50 yards over six plays to pull to within three points, 17-14.
As the third quarter wore down, Fisher would give the ball back to Alfred on its ensuing drive after another fumble recovery by the Saxons gave them the ball at the Fisher 43. It didn’t take long for the tides to turn as Alfred needed just one play to scurry 43 yards to pay dirt and take the lead, 21-17.
Trailing by four points to begin the final quarter of play, Fisher would cut the deficit to one point as Dotterweich connected from 21 yards out to pull Fisher to within 21-20, but Alfred answered on its next drive courtesy of a 3-play, 69-yard effort that resulted in a 39-yard touchdown strike to make it 28-20 with 11:35 remaining in the game.
Down by eight, the Cardinals continued to work their game plan as Walsh completed three consecutive passes to move the ball to midfield. After going to the ground on first down, Walsh stepped up in the pocket and sent a 12-yard pass to Galer before hitting Blake on the sideline for 13 more yards to spot the ball at the Alfred 27. From there, Walsh completed a pass over the middle to Sizer, but Alfred striped the ball away. With the ball bouncing on the turf, Letta pounced in Fisher’s end zone to stave off another turnover and make it a 28-26 game. Needing to come up with the two-point conversion to tie the game, Walsh found Galer in the back corner of the end zone to even the game at 28-28 with 7:25 still showing on the game clock.
With momentum favoring the home team, Alfred was unable to move the sticks and would punt the ball away as Fisher took over at its own 27 with 5:12 to work with.
Needing to get in to field goal range, Walsh went to his go-to receiver as Blake hauled in back-to-back receptions for 22 yards and a first down. After airing it out for nine yards to Michael Escobar, Pross ripped off 14 quick yards on the ground to move into Alfred territory. Following a false start that backed the team up five yards, Pross was called on once again as the Rochester native gained 11 tough yards before picking up four more to move the ball down to the Alfred 18. After a Saxons’ timeout, Pross would gain three more gritty yards before Dotterweich came on and kicked the go-ahead field goal to make it 31-28.
Alfred would get the ball back at its own 44 with 26 seconds to work with, but A.J. Ariosa stepped in front of a pass and came away with his first-career interception to seal the win.
Defensively, Justin Wheeler was all over the field and finished with a team-leading 13 tackles including one for a loss. Tony Silvanic, who was named Academic All-District on Thursday, finished with five stops while Evan Strassberger added five tackles of his own and a pass breakup in the win.
Dotterweich punted the ball twice on the day and averaged 31.0 yards per kick. The North Tonawanda native made three extra point opportunities and nailed three field goals to finish the day with 11 points in all.