The sprint football team had hoped to kick off its season with a bang. However, while there was much electricity hailing from the clouds gathered above Schoellkopf Field, the Red was able to muster just one touchdown in its season-opening 13-6 loss to Penn. The game was a defensive struggle that featured just 300 yards of total offense between the two teams, as well as four interceptions thrown by the Red.
From early on in the contest it was apparent that defense was the name of the game, and that the fans in Schoellkopf were unlikely to witness another game akin to last year’s 34-27 offensive battle between the two teams.
Both the Red and the Quakers went three-and-out on their first few possessions, with the respective punters seeing a good deal of action. However, on the Red’s third chance with the ball it appeared as if the squad might be able to mount a scoring drive. Senior Alec Macaulay found classmate Jon Amoona over the middle for a 38-yard gain, and three plays later Macaulay once again hit Amoona, this time moving the ball to the Penn seven-yard line. Despite the excellent field position, the Red was unable to move the ball the final 21 feet and cross the goal line, and was forced to settle for a field-goal attempt that was subsequently blocked.
The Red’s fourth drive was even more futile than its third. As sophomore Brian Kennedy dropped back to throw his first pass of the season, and the first of the drive, Penn’s David Lopez made a game-breaking play by intercepting the ball and returning it 26 yards for a touchdown. The extra point gave the Quakers a 7-0 lead that they would never relinquish. According to Cornell head coach Terry Cullen, Kennedy’s interception was “a fluke.”
“They blitzed both their corners and the quarterback really didn’t have a chance to make the proper read, and he just threw the ball right to their guy,” Cullen said.
With around three minutes remaining in the first half, the game was unexpectedly delayed as flashes of lightning lit up the Ithaca sky. After a half-hour intermission, play was able to resume.
When Penn kicked off the ball to start the third quarter, the raucous crowd at Schoellkopf was hoping to push the Red downfield and into the endzone. The Quakers, however, had other ideas, as they forced the Red to punt and proceeded to drive the ball all the way down field to the 29-yard line. Penn kicker Peter Stine added to the Quaker lead by nailing a 46-yard field goal, making the score 10-0.
“Their defense was really outstanding,” said Cullen. “We probably should have run the ball more early instead of going with our four-wide shotgun and audibiling so often.”
At the end of the third, the Red was finally able to punch into the endzone, relying heavily on the broad shoulders of junior running back Michael Fullowan. Fullowan exploded for a 21-yard run, nearly a third of his 60-yard total for the day. This was followed by a 16-yard scamper from senior Ben Herzberger to put the ball inside the Penn 30-yard line. From here, however, it appeared that the drive would once again stall as the Quakers forced the Red into a fourth down. Cullen decided to gamble and brought out his offense instead of the kicking team.
The risky endeavor paid off, as Macaulay was able to find Fullowan down the left sideline for a 25-yard touchdown pass. The extra-point was unsuccessful, but the Red had cut the Quaker lead to 10-6 as the third quarter came to a close.
With the Red offense appearing to come to life, it was the Penn defense that proceeded to steal the show. On three of the ensuing four possessions, Macaulay was intercepted, twice on the first play of the drive. The Quakers’ two big running backs, Scott Pickett, who ran for 119 yards on the day, and J.T. Hutchinson, who ran for 70, used the extra possessions to eat up time off of the clock. After another field goal by Stine put Penn up 13-6, the Red had one last chance in the closing minutes, but had its drive stall at midfield after a costly delay of game penalty put the squad in a difficult fourth-and-16 situation. With the Red down to what could be its final play of the game, Macaulay lofted up a bomb that ended up falling lifelessly to the ground, and leaving the Quakers with a 13-6 victory.
Archived article by Jacob Lieberman
Sun Staff Writer