Two years ago, the Cortaca Jug game was in New Jersey. Last year it was canceled and next year it will be in Yankee Stadium. That made Saturday’s iteration of the rivalry pretty special for many of the celebrants.
“You know what’s so special about it is that it requires so much energy from every single student on the campus that it absolutely explodes the energy in Cortland,” said Jean Johnson, a SUNY Cortland senior, following the 62nd game between SUNY Cortland and Ithaca College. Cortland won, 28-27, regaining the jug it hadn’t won since 2016.
Tyler Heaney, a friend of Johnson’s from Long Island, said he loved traveling to his sister’s alma mater for Cortaca.
“All the people are really great,” Heaney said. “I’m going to go every year for the rest of my life.”
If he goes next year, Heaney will have to travel to the Bronx, where the Bombers and the Red Dragons will meet.
Nick Tomaselli, a 2021 SUNY Cortland graduate, brought his girlfriend, Lauren Nuzzi, from Long Island for the game. Tomaselli said he enjoys traveling to Cortland or Ithaca for the game better than attending it downstate.
“I love it here,” he said. “I’d rather just be in the environment.”
Nuzzi and Tomaselli watched the game at The Dark Horse Tavern on Main Street, Nuzzi said. But before it ended, the pair, covered in Dark Horse stickers and sporting Cortland colors, stopped in at Bru 64 for some food.
Cortland Central High School students were out to celebrate the college’s win, as well.
“Everyone’s excited,” said Campbell Bush.
“It’s the only cool thing we have,” agreed Sarah Williams.
Maude Terwilliger said Cortaca draws a lot of customers to the Red Jug Pub, which her father Tom Terwilliger, owns.
“He gets a lot of business from this,” she said. “He loves Cortaca because of that.”
Bush, Williams and Terwilliger celebrated Cortland’s win with a meal at the Cortland Diner and a milkshake.
Brix Pubaria on Main Street was filled with patrons wearing SUNY Cortland shirts, sweatshirts and hats shortly after the game. Central City Bar & Grill, a sports bar on Central Avenue in Cortland, was having a good afternoon, said co-owner Mike Spollen.
“This year’s been good” for business, Spollen said. Cortaca was canceled last year amid the pandemic and the 2019 Cortaca was at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, he noted. “It’s still nothing like it’s been in years past.”