SUNY Cortland freshman Max Llewellyn (No. 96, above) got the call Saturday to start in the biggest game of his young collegiate career — the famed Cortaca Jug Game against Ithaca.
Playing defensive tackle, the 2021 Sayville High School graduate recorded eight tackles — the third most on the team — in the Red Dragons’ nail biting 28-27 win over their Finger Lakes region rival.
The win completed an undefeated regular season for Cortland (10-0), which has two other freshmen from Sayville on the roster, as well several more Long Islanders. The Red Dragons, ranked No. 13 nationally among Division III football teams, play Springfield College (Mass.) at home Saturday in the first round of the NCAA playoffs.
Llewellyn, who has seen plenty of time as a reserve off the bench this season, said he got the start when a first-string upperclassman was injured.
Cortland clinched the win by blocking an Ithaca field goal attempt with under two minutes remaining in the game. Llewellyn wasn’t on the field for the play, but he said watching “that play unfold was crazy.”
“Kind of like everyone in the stadium and on the sideline had a feeling that it was gonna get blocked,” he said. “That was definitely the craziest game I’ve ever played in, and it was one of those moments that I knew I’d never forget as it was happening.”
The freshman noted that “Sayville rivalry games were pretty crazy,” but added that he’s “never played in front of 10,000 people before.”
“That was definitely a new experience for me,” he said. “It gets me excited for what the future holds.”
Llewlyn has good reason to be pumped up. Cortland is having one of the program’s best ever seasons.
Furthermore, he has three more Cortaca Jug games ahead of him, including 2022 Cortaca, which will be played at Yankee Stadium. Tickets for 2022 Cortaca go on sale on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. The game is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022.
This year’s edition was the 62nd Cortaca Jug game between Cortland and Ithaca, which are just 21 miles apart. About 10,000 fans attended.
In 2019, more than 45,000 came to Cortaca when it was held at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. It was the biggest crowd ever to sit for an NCAA Division III football game.
Cortaca’s popularity and influence is so far reaching that hundreds of Cortland and Ithaca alumni living in southern California gather annually to watch the game. This year, Cortacal was held at 3rd Base LA in Hollywood.
Alumni of the two schools living in the Metro New York area also gather in various bars to watch the annual rivalry game. That event is called NYCortaca.
Freshman CJ Messina of Sayville returned one kickoff for 28 yards.
Top photo: No. 96 Max Llewellyn of Sayville (second from left) started for Cortland in its 28-27 win over Ithaca on Saturday, Nov. 13.
Source: Facebook / SUNY Cortland