Springfield, Mass. - September 10, 2016 - Despite a late-rally, including fourth-quarter touchdowns from junior quarterback Steve Comee (Agawam, Mass.) and sophomore fullback Joshua Thomas (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.), the Springfield College football program fell to No. 24 St. John Fisher, 35-21, on Saturday afternoon at Stagg Field.
This marks the second-straight loss for the Pride to begin the season, as Springfield falls to 0-2 in 2016. With the win, the Cardinals, which were ranked No. 24 in the latest D3Football.com National Rankings, improves to 2-0 on the year.
The Pride was led by Thomas on the ground, as the sophomore registered 84 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries, while Comee posted 52 yards on 22 carries, and had a pair of scores in the loss. Defensively, freshman linebacker Rich Williams (Wethersfield, Conn.) notched a team-best nine tackles and had one interception, while senior defensive back Nick Welsh (Middletown, N.J.) picked up his first interception of the year in the third quarter.
For the Cardinals, senior quarterback Matt Naton (Syracuse, N.Y.) was 18-for-29 with 292 yards and four total touchdowns, while junior running back Tony Fusco (Clifton Park, N.Y.) led with 67 yards on 17 carries and a score. Junior wideout Mike Collichio (Webster, N.Y.) posted 170 receiving yards on six catches, including a pair of touchdowns, while defensively, junior linebacker David Carroll posted a game-high 14 tackles on the afternoon.
St. John Fisher struck on their first possession of the game when it took over at the Springfield College 30-yard line, and capped their opening drive with a three-yard pass-and-catch from Naton to tight end Shane Ross (Troy, N.Y.) to take an early 7-0 lead over the Pride.
On Springfield's ensuing drive, Comee conducted a 14-play, 77-yard drive, in which Jordan Wilcox (Saratoga Springs, N.Y.) had nine carries for 64 yards, and was finished off with a 1-yard touchdown run to by Comee to even the game at seven apiece with under two minutes to play in the first quarter.
The Cardinals would regain their seven-point lead on the next drive, aided by a 47-yard pass play from Naton to Collichio, and capped by a one-yard run from Fusco to make it 14-7 with 1:09 remaining in the quarter. St. John Fisher would push its lead to 14 with 5:50 remaining in the half, when Naton capped a 10-play, 73-yard drive over 3:23 with a 7-yard touchdown run up the middle, making it 21-7 going into the half.
The Cardinals were threatening to push its lead to 21 midway through the third quarter, but Welsh came up with a critical interception on the Springfield College 1-yard line and brought it back 53 yards to keep St. John Fisher at bay.
Despite a great defensive effort from the Pride in the third quarter, the Cardinals struck on the opening play of the fourth quarter when Naton found a wide open Collichio in the middle of the field, who easily jogged across the goal line, making it 28-7, St. John Fisher, following a PAT conversion from Devin Dzikowicz (Amsterdam, N.Y.).
On the Pride's next possession, Comee drove the Pride down the field, before Thomas capped off the 8-play, 75-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 28-14, Cardinals, midway through the fourth quarter.
After being forced to punt deep in its own end, St. John Fisher botched the snap on a punt, resulting in a fumble recovery for Springfield College's Nick Giorgio (Cumberland, R.I.) on the Cardinals' 3-yard line. Three plays later, Comee scored his second touchdown of the afternoon with a 1-yard run to make it 28-21, St. John Fisher with 7:24 to play.
After forcing a three-and-out, Springfield College took over on the Cardinals' 46-yard line, but senior defensive back Alec Mortillaro (Rochester, N.Y.) came up with a critical interception to halt the Pride. On St. John Fisher's ensuing possession, Naton aired one out to Collichio, who made a remarkable jumping catch, and found his way into the endzone to seal the 14-point win for the visitors.
Up next, Springfield will return to Stagg Field on Saturday, September 17 when it will host Mount Ida in a non-conference battle at 12 p.m.