November 7, 2009 - The Springfield College football team suffered a 34-7 setback to St. John Fisher in Empire 8 action in front of a disappointed Homecoming Day crowd on Saturday afternoon at Amos Alonzo Stagg Field. The game was Springfield's regular-season finale. SC (7-2 overall, 3-2 Empire 8) now awaits a possible postseason berth in the upcoming ECAC playoffs.
The Cardinals of St. John Fisher, now 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the Empire 8 Conference, were led by a whole host of heroes in a game which they dominated. Junior QB Tim Bailey (East Aurora, N.Y.) completed 21 of 30 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns. He did not throw an interception and was sacked only once. Bailey was also the game's leading rusher with 79 yards on eight carries, including a long of 59 yards that nearly went for a touchdown.
Senior RB Brad Carlton (Schenectady, N.Y.) also had a fine day with 75 yards and two TDs on 19 carries, plus another game-high 106 yards and one TD receiving.
Junior WR Dan Witkowski (Webster, N.Y.) also had a strong performance with 102 receiving yards and one TD on just four receptions, including a long of 59 yards. Another receiver, senior Paul Deckard (Manlius, N.Y.) caught four passes for 58 yards, including a long of 28.
St. John Fisher led 7-0 at the end of one quarter. Springfield senior punter Gordie Barr (Carolina, R.I.) had boxed in the Cardinals at their own three yard line on a 60-yard punt midway through the first quarter. But Bailey then led SJFC 97 yards in 11 plays, culminated by an 11-yard TD pass from Bailey to senior TE Marcus Miles (Watertown, N.Y.). Senior kicker Cullen Bradley (Petersburg, N.Y.) then booted home the first of four extra points, and the Cardinals led, 7-0, with 3:26 remaining in the quarter.
The teams battled in the second quarter, with St. John Fisher fumbling the ball twice at key junctures, once when it was down inside SC's five-yard line, and a second time on a punt return, giving SC excellent field position at the Cardinals' own 35 with 3:40 left in the half. But each time, the Pride was thwarted. A Barr punt went 41 yards into the end zone, and SJFC took over on its own 20 with two minutes on the clock before halftime.
What happened next occurred in lightning-quick fashion. Bailey completed a pass to Witkowski for five yards, and then Carlton ran it for four more. On third-and-one, the Cardinals rolled the dice, and Bailey hit Witkowski over the middle for a good gain, made much better when Witkowski broke some tackles, sailing all the way down to the SC 18. From there, Bailey hit Carlton for an 18-yard TD pass, and St. John Fisher led 14-0 with 33 seconds left in the period.
Springfield took the kick to start the third period to its own 35. Senior FB Baldwin Cunningham (Manchester, Conn.) then rushed for 19 yards. But on the next play, disaster struck when SC sophomore QB Josh Carter (Marlborough, Mass.), who has had an excellent year, was injured after gaining four yards. Carter went out, replaced by freshman QB Brian Staub (Brick, N.J.). Five plays later, however, Staub was stopped for no gain on a 4th-and-1 from the SJFC 26.
Carter would come back for two plays much later in the third quarter, but he just could not make a go of it. Staub played the rest of the game.
With the momentum in favor of St. John Fisher, Bailey then ran for 59 yards on a second-and-10, carrying the ball all the way to the SC three yard-line. Two plays later, Carlton ran it in from one yard out, and the Cardinals now led, 21-0 with 10:20 to go in the third quarter.
SJFC added two touchdowns in the fourth quarter with two long drives. Bailey found Witkowski on a 20-yard pass play with 12:29 left. Then Carlton scored his third TD of the day on an 11-yard run with 6:35 left, making it 34-0.
At that point, the only question left was whether Springfield would be shut out for the first time since 2002, and for just the second time since 1994. But Staub engineered a 52-yard, 9-play drive, scoring on a 2-yard run on a third-down play with just 2:24 left. A kick by sophomore Giuliano Pizzo (Methuen, Mass.) gave SC its seventh point.
St. John Fisher clearly had the better of it. The Cardinals totaled 533 net yards to SC's 183. It outpassed SC, 338-29. They held SC's vaunted rushing game to just 154 yards, far below its 378.9 yards rushing per game average. That was good enough to rank SC #2 nationally in rushing yards entering the game. SJFC had 21 first downs to SC's 11. SJFC averaged 8.0 yards per play to SC's 3.0.
On defense, for Springfield, senior LB Ken Goodwin (Foxboro, Mass.) had a game-high 12 tackles, including seven solos, two tackles-for-loss for 12 yards, and one pass deflection. Freshman LB Matt Pieterse (Springfield, Mass.) had 10 tackles, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. Senior DE Derrick Weekes (Gloucester, Mass.) had nine tackles, including three solos, and a half tackle-for-loss for 1 yard.
Springfield honored 22 seniors on Senior Day in ceremonies before the game. The Pride's season could be over as it awaits a possible ECAC Tournament bid. If SC is selected, then it would play on Saturday, November 21 at a site and against an opponent that will be determined until November 15 or 16.. St. John Fisher can still win the Empire 8 title with a win next week over Hartwick, and an Alfred loss to Utica.