There is never any exact formula to an upset in sports. Each time an underdog pulls off the victory it comes as an exciting surprise, the game following its own intriguing, original script. Last Friday night, during the sprint football team’s win over previously unbeaten Penn (3-1, 1-1), that script dictated that no one big play or dominant performance by an individual player would be the difference.
Instead, it was the little on-field victories, coming from all units, that the Red (2-3, 2-1) rode to the victory.
“It was absolutely a total team effort,” said head coach Terry Cullen.
Defensively, the Red appeared to be no match for Penn’s volatile offense. Ranked second in the CSFL, the Quaker offense arrived at the game averaging 416 yard per game, while boasting the top receiver, top quarterback, and second best rusher in the league.
Against Cornell, the Quakers surpassed that mark, going for 460 yards. However, despite the ability of the Quakers move the ball, the Red defense came up with several key plays to keep Cornell in the game. Sacking Penn’s quarterback six times as well as forcing four fumbles, including three recovered by the Red, Cornell stalled several Penn drives.
“Their turnovers were definitely huge for us,” Cullen said. “They shifted the momentum in our direction.”
Further, two of the forced fumbles took place inside Cornell’s 10-yard line with the Quakers appearing to be destined for the end zone. The defenses ability to buckle down in those situations and cause the turnover changed the entire dynamics of the game.
“They were definitely forced fumbles,” Cullen said. “They didn’t drop any of those balls…We really knocked the snot out of those guys.”
Like the defense, Cornell’s special teams, for the second week in a row, also played a major — though, for the most part, unnoticed — role in the victory. Punter Jason Zittel, last week’s CSFL special teams player of the week, again had a large hand in this win.
“He did another great job,” Cullen said. “Longsnapper Danny Weintraub was great too.” Zittel’s 37.6 yard punting average significantly eclipsed Penn’s 13.6 yard average, allowing the Red to consistently win better field position thought the game.
Even the offense, which has struggled finding the end zone for most of the season, finally seemed to get all its individual elements to gel.
With usual starting quarterback Alec Macaulay back at the reins of the offense, the Red mustered its highest passing total for the season.
Finishing the game with 208 yards and 4 touchdowns on 13 for 23 passing, the junior also played cool under pressure, delivering a 45 yard touchdown strike to receiver Jon Amoona with the game still in doubt.
“Macaulay had a great game,” Cullen said. “We finally figured out the forward pass.” With the improved passing game and another strong performance from tailback Michael Fullowan — 118 yards on 37 carries — the Red finally achieved the balanced offensive attack they had been lacking for all season.
Cornell will need its rejuvenated passing game, as well as the other smaller successes it enjoyed in all its units during the Penn game, to continue this weekend as they travel to Army with a shot at the CSFL title on the line.
Archived article by Scott Reich
Sun Staff Writer