No. 19 St. John Fisher Uses Late TDs For 42-21 Win
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Tyler Fenti passed for a school-record 453 yards to direct a St. John Fisher offense that piled up 733 total yards during a 42-21 victory over Washington & Jefferson at Growney Stadium. All six of the 19th-ranked Cardinals' touchdown drives covered at least 71 yards.
The Presidents (1-1) were led by senior wide receiver Alex Baroffio (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park), who became the program's all-time reception leader in the 122-year history of W&J football. Baroffio caught 13 passes for 139 yards (one TD) to up his career total to 200, passing former record holder David Ravida (192). The 13 receptions fell one short of tying the school record for a single game. In addition, for a second-straight week Baroffio set a career-high with 302 all-purpose yards.
The teams combined for nearly 1,200 yards (466 W&J) and 50 first downs (26 W&J).
St. John Fisher (2-0) started racking up the big plays early as Kevin Francis got behind the W&J secondary on the Cardinal's first play from scrimmage and raced away with an 87-yard touchdown pass.
W&J answered with a seven-play, 71 yard drive to tie the game just over two minutes later. Senior quarterback Matt Bliss (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) threw a short pass to senior running back Dion Wiegand (Pittsburgh, Pa./Keystone Oaks), who weaved in and out of the SJF defense for a 14-yard score.
Two possessions later, Bliss directed another touchdown drive by completing seven passes, including a 39-yard touchdown pass after a pump fake to senior wideout Dan Lucas (Pittsburgh, Pa./Brentwood). The Presidents led 14-7 after one quarter.
After the teams traded punts, the Cardinals tied the game with 9:28 left in the first half. An 88-yard drive ended on Fenti's 32-yard touchdown pass to Nathan Nigolian, who outjumped a W&J defender for the game-tying score.
The Presidents appeared ready to reclaim the lead, driving all the way to the SJF 3, but senior placekicker Eric Eberle's (Mifflintown, Pa./Juniata) 20-yard field goal was blocked by Ryan Seymour. At the 8:59 mark of the drive, Baroffio notched his 193rd career reception which set the W&J record.
Eight plays later, Ryan Kramer took a short pass over the middle 44 yards for a 21-14 Fisher halftime lead. The Cardinals had a chance to tack on as time expired, but a 45-yard field goal attempt barely missed to the left of the upright.
Junior linebacker Jared Pratt (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) sacked Fenti to end the first series of the third quarter and the Presidents tied the game on a two-yard pass from Bliss to Baroffio. However, on the first play after the kickoff, Cody Miller bolted through the center of the W&J defense for a 77-yard touchdown and a 28-21 advantage at the 10:59 mark of the third quarter.
The Cardinals were ready to add to their lead late in the quarter, but W&J sophomore linebacker Shane Smith (Fredonia, N.Y./Fredonia) forced a fumble inside the 10-yard line and junior cornerback Alec Schram (Canonsburg, Pa./Canon-McMillan) fell on it to change momentum. Bliss ran 45 yards to set W&J up inside the SJF 30; however, Baroffio ran a wide-receiver reverse 18 yards before having the ball punched out from behind for a Cardinals’ turnover.
On a 3-and-4 play, Nigolian grabbed a short pass over the middle and raced 80 yards to the W&J 7. Fenti then lofted a pass to Francis for a 35-21 lead three minutes into the fourth quarter.
The SJF defense sacked Bliss twice on the next series and after a punt, Miller capped the scoring with a 30-yard touchdown jaunt. Miller rushed for 202 yards on 23 attempts, while Fenti completed 18-of-26 passes. Francis (6-174) and Nigolian (4-150) both had 100-yard receiving days, while Sean Preish paced the defense with nine tackles and a sack.
Bliss completed 32-of-47 passes for a career-high 339 yards and three touchdowns before leaving with an injury during the fourth quarter. Lucas had 96 receiving yards for the second-straight week on eight catches, while Wiegand rushed 16 times for 59 yards. Pratt had eight tackles and 1.5 sacks, while senior defensive end Jon Lowery (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Alleheny) produced a game-high 11 tackles and a half-sack.
W&J opens conference play Saturday at Grove City for a 7:00 pm kickoff.