SUNY Cortland’s Nov. 12 football win over Ithaca College didn’t make the highlights on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” – but that doesn’t mean the 53rd annual Cortaca Jug game struggled to live up to the expectations that once led Sports Illustrated to bill the game as “the biggest little game in the nation.”
Separated by about 20 miles on Route 13 in upstate New York, the two schools play the Division III football equivalent of New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox baseball. The rivalry game routinely draws close to 10,000 fans and offers two important things to its victor: possession of the all-important Cortaca Jug and eternal bragging rights.
This year, the student-athlete excellence that has become a trademark at SUNY Cortland was on full display at Ithaca College’s Butterfield Stadium. SUNY Cortland graduate student Dan Pitcher, an unflappable quarterback and an even better student, led his Red Dragons team to a decisive 27-3 triumph. It was SUNY Cortland’s second straight Cortaca Jug win and the college’s largest margin of victory in Ithaca in more than 50 years.
Pitcher looked like a smaller version of pro football hall of famer Steve Young on the field. He completed 23-of-36 passes for 280 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for a game-high 94 yards. He managed the game well on offense and seemed to make perfect decisions throughout the afternoon.
Then again, it’s not often that Pitcher makes mistakes, either on the field or in the classroom. He earned a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Cortland in 2010 while maintaining a 4.08 GPA and will graduate in December with a master’s degree in sport management.
He will finish his SUNY Cortland football career with several program records despite playing just two seasons at the college. And out of all of his athletic accomplishments, a 2-0 record under center in Cortaca Jug games might speak the loudest.
Maybe that’s because the Cortaca Jug game is the loudest, at least when it comes to Division III football rivalries.