Friday night’s Elmira-Ithaca football game looked like David vs. Goliath on paper, and it played out that way.
Unbeaten Elmira gained nearly 300 yards on 11 offensive plays in the first half and cruised to a 59-0 victory against the Little Red, spoiling Homecoming and Senior Night at Moresco Stadium.
Elmira improved to 7-0, 5-0 in Section 4 Division I, while the Little Red — loser of 13 consecutive games dating to Week 3 of last season — dipped to 0-7, 0-5.
Senior Eli Thomas rushed 156 yards and three touchdowns on four carries, all in the first half. He also scored on a fumble recovery.
Junior Jerry McPeak added 114 yards and a touchdown in the first half, including a 73-yard run, and also did not play after halftime as coach Jim McCauley emptied his bench with his team ahead at the break, 46-0.
Elmira had 442 yards offense, all on the ground, while Ithaca got most of its yards through the air. Senior quarterback Julian Tino completed 17 of 33 passes for 171 yards, with classmate Emmitt Houston catching seven passes for 52 yards. The Little Red had zero yards rushing.
Prior to the game, Ithaca honored its senior players and a senior cheerleader, and also had a moment of silence for former coach Joe Moresco, for whom the stadium is named. Moresco, who died Nov. 27, 2012, at age 86, guided Ithaca to 141 victories and the 1970 state title in 28 seasons.
The Little Red showed flashes of promise on the game’s first possession, picking up a pair of first downs and crossing midfield. But on a third-and-long play near midfield, Tino’s screen pass was intercepted near the line of scrimmage by Elmira lineman Anthony Penn, who rumbled up the left sideline before fumbling at the Ithaca 10.
The ball was recovered by defensive back Thomas, who carried it the rest of the way into the end zone. McPeak added the 2-point conversion run to make it 8-0 six minutes in.
After that, the touchdowns came in quick succession for the Express. Thomas made it 16-0 with a 50-yard burst two minutes later, Kevin Snyder took it in from 19 yards out with 2:50 left in the opening quarter — Elmira’s shortest scoring play of the first half — and Thomas capped a two-play, 50-yard march with a 39-yard run with 1:15 to go.
Both of Elmira’s touchdowns in the second quarter were on one-play drives — a 66-yard sprint off-tackle by Thomas, and a 73-yard burst up the middle by McPeak. The Express gained 296 yards on 11 runs in the first half.
Elmira got its final two scores on a 3-yard run by sophomore Allaah Sessions midway through the third quarter, and a 3-yard run by senior Kyrel Guinta with 4:46 left in the third.