There’s nothing like seven years of defeat to sweeten the taste of victory. This past Saturday in the 59th annual Cortaca Jug game, Ithaca Football finally brought the jug back to IC. The Bombers dominated in a 48-20 victory, putting the SUNY Cortland Red Dragons back in their place.
Barely a minute had passed since kickoff when the Bombers scored their first touchdown, a telling sign of what the rest of the game would be like. Cortland tried, but they just could not keep the Bombers offense out of the end zone. Freshman QB Wahid Nabi’s passing game was nearly flawless with Andrew Vito and Will Gladney leading in receptions. Nabi broke the team’s record by achieving six touchdown passes and Gladney became the third player in IC’s history to surpass 1,000 receiving yards in a season. The Bombers’ defense was just as hot, holding the Red Dragons to less than 300 yards.
From that start of this bombastic game until the end, the energy both on the field and in the stands was palpable. Freezing temperatures on gameday did not stop students, alumni and the rest of the crowd from coming through and cheering on their team. Butterfield Stadium was jam-packed with fans from both sides united only by their thirst for hot chocolate. I was there watching the game, bundled up in as many layers as I could fit under my jacket, somehow sitting in the one section of the stands the sun didn’t shine on until the final minutes of the last quarter. But with the energy around me so high, I barely noticed the numbness in my fingers and toes. The game day energy wasn’t limited to just the stadium; first thing in the morning, tailgaters arrived to show their team spirit by flooding the parking lot with music, beer and freshly grilled burgers and hot dogs.
In the final moments of the game, a sense of pride and excitement came over me and the rest of the crowd as it became official that the Bombers had, after seven painful losses, defeated Cortland. The team in the sidelines stormed the field in celebration while the fans erupted in cheers and high fives. As a senior, this game was bittersweet for me, but mostly sweet. This was my last Cortaca and last IC football game after cheering the team on at dozens of games over the last four seasons. It felt amazing to watch our team beat our rival in a shut-out game and finish off the season on a high note. I always had a feeling the Bombers would end their drought in my senior year, and I’m glad I was right.
Next up for the Bombers in their postseason campaign is heading to the University of Delaware to play in the ECAC Bowl Fest. The team will face off against Salisbury University on Saturday Nov. 18 at 5 p.m.