For the sixth time,the Courage Bowl rivalry between UR and St. John Fisher College played out on the football field — or in this year’s case, the soccer field. The charity game, which benefits Camp Good Days and Special Times, was moved to Marina Auto Stadium last spring to encourage larger crowds and greater community involvement. Attendance was up this year, but the 21-49 finish wasn’t nearly as suspenseful as last year’s nail-biting 33-35.
The Courage Bowl is the ’Jackets’ largest crowd each year. Proceeds are directed to the children of Camp Good Days, whose lives have been touched by cancer.
The ’Jackets played a competitive first half against the Cardinals’ strong offense — a team that has averaged 50 points a game this season. Fisher was up on the scoreboard within seconds of the kickoff, when wide receiver Ryan Francis returned the opening kick 86 yards. UR evened the score after covering 68 yards in nine plays.
UR tied the score three times — for the final time at 21-21 — but lost momentum when Fisher scored two back-to-back touchdowns late in the second quarter.
“We did a good job of containing them in the first half but unfortunately couldn’t sustain it throughout the game … They have a fast, high-scoring offense and unfortunately we weren’t able to keep up with them,” co-captain and senior quarterback Patrick Keegan said.
Already this season, two Fisher players have tied their college’s records for touchdown passes and recpetions in a single game. The players had an equally strong showing this game: Cardinals quarterback Tim Bailey finished 20 of 30 passes for 315 yards and threw four touchdowns. Meanwhile, wide receiver Ryan Schmidt caught 11 balls and three touchdowns for Fisher.
Fisher’s second scoring opportunity came off an intercepted pass from Keegan. The ’Jackets never recovered from Fisher’s 14-point lead and allotted the Cardinals two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Keegan completed 24 of 44 passes for 255 yards, and scored one of UR’s three touchdowns. Junior defensive lineman Chris Bickford found the end zone twice on short runs. The ’Jackets made two interceptions, one by junior defensive lineman Cainaan Webb, that helped the ’Jackets successfully even the score for the first time.
Overall, Keegan said UR moved the ball well against Fisher, moving it 403 yards to Fisher’s 479.
“We were able to march up and down the field; unfortunately, we had a little trouble putting the ball in the end zone in the second half,” Keegan said. “Our defense did well against the run but struggled against the pass.”
Early in the game, senior runningback Clarence Onyiriuka went down with an injury, leaving UR without their starter powerhouse. Junior running back Byron Saggese took over and finished with 68 yards.
UR, now 0-2, has already faced some of its most difficult competition in its two opening games. This season, St. John Fisher, 3-0, is ranked No. 17 and Case Western Reserve University, 2-0, is just out of the top 25. Fortunately for UR, these losses won’t factor into their Liberty League standings. UR looks forward to a fresh start on Saturday at Union College.
Leber is a member of the class of 2011.