PITTSFORD, N.Y., October 25, 2008 — The St. John Fisher College football team came through with a 38-35 win over visiting Springfield College on Saturday in an Empire 8 Conference matchup at Fisher’s Growney Stadium.
The Cardinals (5-3 overall, 3-1 Empire 8) battled back from a 20-7 deficit after the first quarter, scoring 24 unanswered points to take an 11-point lead into the fourth quarter, but needed an interception from senior Kenny Bostick (Rochester, NY) with 39 seconds left to preserve the win.
Dan Witkowski (Webster, NY) scored three receiving touchdowns, tying the Fisher single-game record, and finished with six catches for 157 yards (all career-highs). Quarterback Tim Bailey (East Aurora, NY) completed 15-of-25 passes for 219 yards. He also tossed four touchdowns, but was responsible for four turnovers, including three interceptions.
Springfield (2-5, 0-3), who entered the game averaging 268 yards rushing per contest (sixth in NCAA Division III), only gained 133 yards on the ground. The Pride was out-gained by Fisher 443-191, but Springfield’s Jarred Burrell (Warwick, RI) accounted for 249 yards on six kickoff returns.
Springfield jumped out to a 7-0 lead as Jared Livingston (Seattle, WA) scored on a 23-yard run less than four minutes into the game. The drive was set up after Bailey fumbled the ball away on Fisher’s opening drive.
Weather played a key role throughout the first half as a steady and sometimes torrential rain fell, resulting in four first-half fumbles by the Cardinals.
Fisher answered with a nine-play, 62-yard drive with Scott Biehl (Westlake, OH) scoring his first career touchdown on an 11-yard run with 5:51 left in the first quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Burrell took the ball at his own 18-yard line and returned it 82 yards to give Springfield a 14-7 lead.
Springfield pushed its lead to 20-7, driving 78 yards on six plays with Baldwin Cunningham (Manchester, CT) scoring on a five-yard run with 20 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Cardinals, however, battled back and managed to take a 21-20 lead into the locker room. After an errant Springfield snap on a punt gave Fisher the ball at the Pride 26, Bailey tossed a six-yard strike to Jimmy Smith (Oneida, NY) with 6:48 left in the second quarter.
Springfield went three-and-out on its next possession and the Cardinals took the lead for good with a 78-yard drive, as Bailey hit Witkowski on a slant from three yards out with 20 seconds left in the half, making it 21-20, Fisher.
Fisher pushed its lead to 28-20 on its first possession of the second half with Witkowski scoring on a 14-yard pass from Bailey midway through the third quarter. Ricky Tatar (Rochester, NY) made it 31-20 on Fisher’s next possession, kicking a 19-yard field goal.
The Pride, however, did not go away. Joe Myhren (New Hampton, NY) took a pitch from quarterback Josh Carter (Marlborough, MA) and scored on a 28-yard run and made it 31-28, as Carter connected with J.P. Gagnon (North Syracuse, NY) on the two-point conversion with 11:16 remaining in the game.
After two three-and-out possessions, Witkowski pushed Fisher’s lead back to 10, scoring on a 59-yard catch from Bailey on a third-and-17 play with 3:23 left. Just 15 seconds later, Springfield answered Fisher’s touchdown with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Carter to Myhren. The one-play drive was set up by a 68-yard kickoff return from Burrell.
Fisher picked up one first down on its next possession and was forced to punt, but Tatar delivered a 38-yard punt to the Springfield 16 with 1:38 left.
The Pride picked up one first down, before Bostick sealed the win with his third interception of the season at the Springfield 35 with 39 seconds remaining. Brad Carlton (Schenectady, NY) rushed for 79 yards on 16 carries, while Biehl, who had not played in a game since the season-opener, picked up 75 yards on 21 attempts (all career-highs).
Sophomore Robbie Brown (Webster, NY) caught five passes for 40 yards. Chris Pierri (Fairport, NY) went 5-for-5 on extra point attempts. Livingston led Springfield with 47 rushing yards, while Carter completed 5-of-10 passes for 58 yards.
Defensively, Fisher’s Sean Trapper (Cheektowaga, NY) finished with a career-high eight tackles, including a key stop on fourth down in Fisher territory midway through the fourth quarter.
Springfield’s Brenden Moore (Jamesville, NY) made two interceptions, while Burrell forced a fumble and also intercepted a pass. Cody Flanigan (Auburn, NY) was in on 11 tackles, while Sean Richey (Setauket, NY) made 10 stops, including one sack.
Fisher will return to action next Saturday at Utica College, while Springfield will play at Ithaca College.