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Ithaca College and SUNY Cortland Set to Face Off in 60th Cortaca Jug Game

Sixty years ago, Ithaca College football captain Dick Carmean and Cortland captain Tim Decker wanted to raise the stakes of the annual rivalry game between the Bombers and Red Dragons. So, the two set out to find something that could be used as a trophy.

They settled upon a jug they bought for $2 at a yard sale, and thus the Cortaca Jug Game was started in 1959. The jug was painted in Cortland’s red and white and Ithaca’s blue and gold. The score and winner from each game was also painted on the side.

Ithacan article from the first Cortaca Jug game in 1959 (courtesy of IC Archives).

Since then the game has taken on new meaning and is the biggest game of the year for both of these teams.

History of the Game

Ithaca and Cortland began playing each other back in 1930 — with a break from 1935 to 1947 — and have played each other 75 total times.

The Red Dragons took home the Jug in 1959 after beating the Bombers 13-7. In 1985, after the original Jug ran out of space to write the winners’ name, a second one was added. The Bombers won that game 41–0, their most decisive victory in the series history.

Photo from the 1985 Cortaca game (Courtesy of IC Archives).

The game got its “Biggest Little Game in the Nation” slogan in 1991 when Sports Illustrated writer John Walters wrote about the game in his Division III football preview.

Cortland went on its longest winning streak from 2010–2016, winning six straight contests. The Bombers broke the streak last year with a 48–20 win to bring the jugs back to the South Hill.

Scouting This Year’s Game

This game looks like it will be the closest on paper since 2008, as both teams are at the top of their respective leagues.

Sophomore quarterback Wahid Nabi will lead the Bombers on offense. Last year at Cortaca, Nabi set a school record, throwing six touchdowns, including five in the first half. He missed one game due to injury this season but has since returned to top form. He’s thrown for over 2,500 yards so far and 16 touchdowns.

Junior wide receiver Will Gladney is now the owner of two school records — for all-time receiving yards and all-time receptions — and is within five receiving touchdowns of another. Junior running back Kendall Anderson has emerged as the top running back this season and will start for the first time on Saturday.

On defense, the Bombers have been consistently ranked in the top 10 all season. They have allowed just nine points in the past three games.

The Red Dragons meanwhile are led by junior quarterback Brett Segala. In his first year as a starter, Segala has thrown for 2,510 yards and 25 touchdowns. He is known most for his mobility and is strongest when he leaves the pocket and makes the defense scramble.

Senior defensive back Isaac Hicks III and senior linebacker Kyle Richard lead the team on defense and have 66 and 62 tackles, respectively.

Neither of these teams will receive automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament, so this could be the last game of the season if they do not receive either an at-large bid or bowl game invitation. Game time is set for noon Nov. 10 and will be played at Cortland.

“It’s bittersweet,” senior captain Aaron Francis said. “Just knowing that I’m going to be playing in this crazy atmosphere one more time. I’m really excited. They’re a good football team, we’re a good football team so it’s going to be really competitive and I can’t wait.”


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