PITTSFORD, N.Y., October 21, 2006 - In a battle between two undefeated teams, visiting Springfield College defeated host St. John Fisher College, 55-38, in a key Empire 8 Conference match-up.
With the win, Springfield, ranked 15th in the Don Hansen's Football Gazette poll and 17th in the D3football.com poll, improves to 7-0, 3-0, while the ninth-ranked Cardinals fall to 7-1, 3-1.
In a game that featured no punts and a combined 1,041 yards of total offense (Springfield 534, Fisher 507), Springfield took the game’s opening drive 78 yards and kept the lead for the rest of the game.
Fisher entered the game allowing just 56 points for the entire season (eighth in Division III), while Springfield, who entered the game as the No. 1 rushing offense in the nation, did little to hurt its standing, racking up 493 yards on the ground on 67 attempts (7.4 yard average).
Springfield quarterback Chris Sharpe (Derry, N.H.) scored a school-record seven rushing touchdowns (one shy of the Division III record) and finished the game with a Springfield-record 280 yards on just 26 carries (10.8 yard average).
Sharpe, who entered the game leading Division III in scoring with 18.0 points per game, now has 25 touchdowns on the year, setting a new Division III record for touchdowns by a quarterback. The junior scored the Pride’s first seven touchdowns – two in the first quarter, one in the second, and two in the third and fourth quarters.
Springfield’s Aland Joseph (Stamford, Conn.) scored his team’s final touchdown on a 28-yard scamper with 1:29 left in the game.
Fisher, who trailed 20-9 at halftime, scored 22 points in the third quarter and trimmed Springfield’s lead down to three points (20-17, 27-24 and 34-31) on three different occasions, but could not take the lead.
Quarterback Nick Suchyna, who replaced injured Rob Kramer on the second play of the second half, threw for three touchdowns and ran for one.
Suchyna hooked up with senior Sean Nowicki for a 28-yard pass at 11:38 in the third quarter and again at the 2:12 mark from 34 yards out. He also tossed a 30-yard pass to James Reile with 3:29 left and scored on a six-yard scamper in the third.
But the Cardinals had no answer for Springfield’s triple-option offense. Sharpe scored on runs of 27, 69, 21, 11, 38 and two one-yard runs. He also completed one pass on two attempts for 41 yards to Joseph, setting up the Pride’s first score of the second half.
“This was huge win for us,” said Sharpe after the game. “I have to admit I have been thinking about this game for three weeks, but we were very focused today. We just kept running the plays and taking the plays they were giving us.”
Fisher scored its first touchdown of the day midway through the first quarter on a one-yard touchdown run from senior Mark Robinson, but Chris Pierri’s extra point kick was blocked. After a 69-yard run from Sharpe, Springfield stopped the Cardinals on three plays from the Springfield five, ending with a 25-yard field goal from Pierri.
Fisher forced a Springfield fumble deep in Fisher territory on the ensuing possession, but the Cardinals returned the favor, as Kramer fumbled at the Springfield 45.
Sharpe made it 20-9 with a 21-yard run with 3:05 left in the half. Fisher nearly drove the length of the field in the closing moments of the first half, but couldn’t convert on first-and-goal from the Springfield seven and Pierri’s 24-yard field goal was blocked by Joe Harasymiak (Waldwick, N.J.) on the final play of the half.
Suchnya completed 12-of-15 passes for 22 yards and three touchdowns. He also lost two fumbles on sacks. As a team, Fisher fumbled seven times in the game, losing three of them.
Kramer was 5-for-11 for 137 yards, while Robinson rushed for 123 yards on 20 carries.
Nowicki was Fisher’s top receiver, catching six balls for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
Springfield’s Dante Calabrese (Stamford, Conn.) rushed for 117 yards on 27 carries, while Mike Nicol (Hopkinton, Mass.) led the Pride defense with three sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Springfield will return to action next week at Ithaca College, while the Cardinals will play at Utica College.