SCHENECTADY — Union College celebrated its annual Homecoming Saturday, but Wahid Nabi enjoyed a much more successful personal homecoming, helping his Ithaca College football team crush the Dutchmen on Frank Bailey Field.
Nabi, a sophomore quarterback from Shaker High School, made an impressive return to the Capital Region by completing 19 of 28 passes for 279 yards and two touchdown passes to power the Bombers to a convincing 24-0 victory.
The Dutchmen (0-2 Liberty League, 4-2 overall) lost their second consecutive game after an impressive 4-0 start. They had no answers for the Bombers (1-1, 4-2) on either side of the ball. Ithaca doubled Union in total offense 376-185, and forced four interceptions.
Nabi was questionable because of assorted injuries, but he looked quite healthy early and often for the Bombers, who scored on their first possession of the game. Nabi hooked up with his favorite target, Will Gladney, for a 29-yard TD pass to cap a seven-play, 74-yard drive. Ithaca never looked back.
The Bombers allowed Union only one red-zone attempt, and the Dutchmen came up empty following three incomplete passes from the Bombers’ 10-yard line early in the final quarter.
“We put in a lot of work in practice this week,” Nabi said. “We treated this like a business trip, although for me, it was nice to be back home for a little while. My high school coach kept texting me all week, and my parents brought everyone who knew me to the game.”
Nabi said he feels like a much better quarterback than he was a year ago.
“I’m more confident with my teammates,” Nabi said. “Union has a very aggressive defense, but we have some very talented players. I think I have some of the best receivers in the country. We made some big plays today.”
Nabi also found Gladney for a 5-yard TD pass in the second quarter, and Isaiah D’Haiti added a 2-yard scoring run. Brian Fallon closed out the scoring with a 42-yard field goal midway through the final quarter, and he just missed a 50-yarder late in the game.
Union was frustrated all day. Sophomore quarterback Will Bellamy completed 19 of 33 passes for 143 yards. Besides his four interceptions, he was sacked three times.
Andre Ross Jr., ranked among the nation’s best receivers in yards gained, caught only four passes for 18 yards.
Union’s rushing attack was also stifled, with Travis Demby and Ike Irabor combining or only 51 net yards on 20 carries.
“In the end, we didn’t execute our offense,” Union head coach Jeff Behrman said. “After the game, I asked our players who they were going to be as men and as teammates. It’s time to look in the mirror. We will regroup tomorrow.”
As expected, the Dutchmen were shocked by their performance, especially considering they felt they had a legitimate shot at a postseason playoff berth after their terrific start.
“We’ve got to keep it in perspective,” Behrman said. “We lost a football game. No one died. Offensively, we’ve just got to execute better. Defensively, we have to do a better job of limiting big plays.”
Union travels to St. Lawrence next Saturday and returns home Nov. 3 to face Rochester.
Ithaca 14 7 0 3 — 24
Union 0 0 0 0 — 0
I — Gladney 29 pass from Nabi (Fallon kick).
I — D’Haiti 2 run (Fallon kick).
I — Gladney 5 pass from Nabi (Fallon kick).
I — Fallon 42 FG.
Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected].