ONEONTA, N.Y. -- November 3, 2007 -- Chris Sharpe became the first player in Springfield College history to surpass the 5,000-yard mark in career total offense, but it wasn't enough as Hartwick College defeated Springfield, 37-34, in an offensive show that produced a staggering figure of 1,113 total yards in an Empire 8 Conference game this afternoon at Hartwick's Wright Stadium.
Ranked 24th nationally in Division III in rushing at 112.5 yards per game entering the contest, Sharpe, a senior quarterback from Derry, N.H., ran for 184 yards (his second-best total of the season) and four touchdowns. He also passed for another 140 yards on 8 completions in 17 attempts, giving him 324 yards of total offense on the day. Last week, Sharpe became Springfield's career total offense leader as he surpassed Ryan Sylvia's (2001-2004) old record of 4,950. Sharpe's new total of 5,281 yards makes him the first in SC history to surpass 5,000.
In addition, with his 184 yards rushing, Sharpe also surpassed the 1,000-yard mark in rushing for the season in this his ninth game. It was his second straight 1,000-yard seasonal rushing effort. Last year, he ran for 1,941 yards, and was ranked number one in the nation with his 161.8 yards per game average.
Despite all Sharpe's heroics, it was junior QB Jason Boltus (Baldwinsville, N.Y.) of Hartwick who passed for 508 yards and five touchdowns and Joe Rocco (Oneida, N.Y.), who had a career receiving day in his final home appearance as Hartwick held on for the win.
With the victory, the Hawks moved to 7-2 overall, 4-1 in league action and remained alive for their first-ever Empire 8 title. The win over the Pride also extends Hartwick’s home win streak to eight, which dates back to the 2006 campaign. Springfield fell to 3-6 overall, and 1-4 in the Empire 8. It was just a year ago when Springfield won an Empire 8 co-title with St. John Fisher (both 5-1).
Boltus, who led the NCAA Division III ranks in total offense (367.4 ypg heading into today), accounted for 547 yards in the victory. The 6-3, 215-pounder completed 30-of-44 attempts for his second 500-yard effort of the year. Boltus also rushed for a team-best 39 yards. Rocco, a senior, caught a team-high 8 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown.
Hartwick opened scoring at 2:41 of the first quarter as Boltus spotted a streaking Jack Phelan (Slingerlands, N.Y.) for a 45-yard score. It was the duo’s first of three connections for touchdowns on the afternoon.
At 11:22 of the second quarter, Boltus escaped a few Springfield defenders in the backfield and, on the run, threw a 50-yard pass to Noah Koreman (Albany, N.Y.) to increase the lead to 14-0.
Hartwick returned to the scoreboard at 7:34 of the second as Boltus hit Phelan with a 24-yard pass in the end zone. The play capped off a seven-play, 70-yard drive. The Hawks missed the extra point (it was blocked) and led 20-0.
Springfield got on the scoreboard just 21 seconds later at 7:13. After setting up shop at SC's 32 yard line following the kick-off, sophomore Baldwin Cunningham (Manchester, Conn.) broke free on a 68-yard scamper down the right sideline to shave the deficit to 20-7.
Hartwick and the Pride traded touchdowns in the final six minutes of the second quarter. The Hawks added a 21-yard touchdown pass from Boltus to Phelan at 5:53, while Springfield answered with 2:10 left on a two-yard run by Sharpe, the first of his four rushing touchdowns. A bad snap caused the extra point attempt to fail, and Hartwick led 27-13 at intermission.
It was the Pride who scored the lone points in the third quarter to bring the score to 27-20 on a one-yard run by Sharpe with 1:25 left. It was a quarter rife with turnovers on both sides.
The Hawks got on the board early in the fourth quarter on a 22-yard field goal by Ryan Boyea (Scotch Plains, N.J.) to extend the lead to 30-20. The kick with 13:38 remaining in the game ended an eight-play, 54-yard drive.
After Sharpe scored his third touchdown of the game on a two-yard run with 7:34 left to get the Pride to within 30-26, the Hawks quickly answered. Boltus hit Rocco for a 14-yard pass at 5:34 to cap off a five-play 67-yard drive and give Hartwick what appeared to be a comfortable 37-26 lead.
Springfield, however, made things interesting down the stretch. Sharpe engineered a 12-play, 85-yard drive in 1:28 and finished it off with an eight-yard run with just 1:35 remaining to get the Pride to within 37-34. Twice, Springfield converted on fourth-and-long plays to keep that drive alive, and a win possible.
But Springfield’s on-sides kick was scooped up by Rocco, who emerged from the pile, killing any chance for an SC victory. Springfield had already used its three time-outs, and had no way of stopping the clock as the Hawks took a knee three times. It was Hartwick's first-ever victory over the Pride in four tries. The result avenged a 44-20 loss in Springfield in 2006.
Hartwick, which ranked ninth in the nation in total yards (476.0 ypg), amassed 602 yards on the afternoon. Outside of Boltus and Rocco, Phelan caught six more passes for 147 yards, while senior Lindy Crea (Binghamton, N.Y.) caught five passes for 65 yards and had an additional 21 on the ground. Fellow senior T.J. Rizzo (Highlands, N.Y.) had 77 yards of total offense – 32 yards rushing and 45 yards receiving.
Springfield, which brought in the fifth-best rushing offense in the country, rushed for 391 yards on the ground. Sharpe finished with 184 yards on 28 carries, while Cunningham accounted for 116 yards on 18 attempts. Sharpe, the 2006 Empire 8 Offensive Player of the Year, completed 8 of 17 attempts for 140 yards. Among receivers, senior WR Erich Timmerman (Middletown, N.Y.) caught a career-high five passes for 65 yards. Senior WR Jeremy Zelinski (Groton, Conn.) added two receptions for 52 yards. The Pride finished with 511 yards of offense.
Defensively, Justin Oelgeschlager (Highland, N.Y.) led the Hawks with a career-high 14 tackles. The senior also picked off Sharpe once for his fourth interception of the year. Ben Tomaino (Oneonta, N.Y.) posted nine tackles, while Mike Ashcraft (Westbrookville, N.Y.) had eight stops.
Senior co-captain Brian Hess (Kingston, Mass.), sophomore LB Jeff Creeden (Mansfield, Mass.), junior LB Tom Caporale (Closter, N.J.), and sophomore NT John Ward (Stoughton, Mass.) each posted nine tackles to lead the Pride. Senior CB Joe Harasymiak (Waldwick, N.J.) picked off a pass, the 15th of his career. He is now two shy of the Springfield College career interception record of 17, set by Keith Sweeney in 1991 to 1993.
Sharpe already owns the following Springfield College career records with 5,281 yards of total offense; 3,886 yards rushing, and 414 points. Sharpe needs 114 yards rushing in his final career game to become the first in SC history to rush for 4,000 yards.
Springfield will end the 2007 campaign on its Senior Day next Saturday (Nov. 10) at 12 noon at home. Hartwick also returns to action next Saturday as it travels to face arch-rival Utica for a huge game in its regular-season finale. That game is set for a 1:30 p.m. start.
In order for the Hawks to win their first-ever Empire 8 title, Hartwick must defeat Utica and then have St. John Fisher down Alfred to force a tie. In that scenario, Hartwick would win a tiebreaker with the Cardinals due to its 31-28 upset victory over Fisher on September 29. Should Hartwick and Alfred win, the Saxons would win the tiebreaker over the Hawks due to a 46-36 victory on October 6.