It was a completely different Cornell football team that showed up against Yale (1-1, 1-0 Ivy) this past Saturday in New Haven, Conn., compared to the one that dominated Bucknell only a week ago. Cornell (1-1, 0-1 Ivy) often looked confused and overmatched, as the team struggled to find any momentum until late in the fourth quarter, losing to the Bulldogs, 37-17, in the Ivy League opener for both squads.
“They just made so many plays that we didn’t make,” said Cornell head coach Jim Knowles ’87. “Our guys quit on some balls and we were out of position. We’re obviously going to have to make some adjustments for next week.”
Cornell sophomore running back Luke Siwula led the Red offensive attack with 132 yards on 23 carries and freshman quarterback Nathan Ford made his collegiate debut in the fourth quarter, completing 10-of-17 passes for 112 yards. Starting senior quarterback Ryan Kuhn passed for 90 yards and rushed for 23 in the loss. Senior safety Kevin Rex recorded 10 tackles and notched one interception to lead the Cornell defense.
The Red defense held strong against the run, but was beat in the air as Yale out-gained Cornell in passing yards 314-202. Yale quarterback Jeff Mroz picked apart the Red secondary, passing for five touchdowns, including three to wide receiver Ashley Wright.
“We protected the quarterback today and made plays in the passing game,” said Yale head coach Jack Siedlecki. “Our line let Mroz have a little extra time to throw those longer balls and I was just proud of the way our guys responded against a high pressure defense. I think that this many points were the most that they’ve given up since Knowles has been there.”
The Red offense started quickly by completing first downs on the first three plays from scrimmage. Kuhn handed off to senior wide receiver Brian Romney on a reverse option to start the game and Siwula added two 10-plus yard runs as the Red gained momentum quickly. The drive stalled on the 10-yard line however, as junior wide receiver Anthony Jackson was forced out of bounds after running a curl route in the front left corner of the end zone. Senior place kicker A.J. Weitsman split the uprights with a 27-yard field goal and the Red would experience its only lead of the game, 3-0, after the first drive.
Penalties and turnovers would then kill any momentum for the Red, as a couple big plays would let the game slip away early.
After a quick three and out by the Cornell defense following the ensuing kickoff, Kuhn threw into traffic and was intercepted on the Red’s 34-yard line by Bulldog free safety Nick Solakian. The first play after the turnover, Mroz connected with wide receiver Todd Feireisen as he hauled in a 34-yard touchdown pass, burning the single coverage. Yale would go on to miss the extra point but jumped out to a 6-3 lead. It would be a lead that they wouldn’t surrender for the remainder of the game.
Giving up the big play haunted the Red, as Mroz became the first Yale quarterback to throw five touchdowns since 1966. More frustrating for the Red was that four of the scoring passes were over 18 yards, including Wright’s 70-yard touchdown reception with 9:48 left to go in the first half. The score put Yale up 16-3. Yale exposed a Red secondary that virtually went untested against Bucknell in last week’s 24-7 victory.
“It wasn’t so much that they had bad players at the position,” Wright said. “It’s just that the way Cornell plays defense, if they don’t get to the quarterback, then they put the cornerbacks in some bad situations. That is what pretty much happened today. [Mroz] didn’t get touched today and we just made the plays when we had single coverage.”
If there was anything positive to take away from the game at the Yale Bowl, it was the poise and passing ability shown by freshman quarterback Nathan Ford. Ford, who came in for Kuhn during the final seconds of the third quarter, completed his first collegiate pass ever, throwing a dart to Jackson for a 21-yard gain. Siwula would later score Cornell’s first touchdown on a 12-yard run.
After Yale scored another touchdown to make the game 37-10, Ford then led the Red right back down the field, as he showed an ability to throw on the run. Ford scrambled out of the pocket and found Siwula for a 25-yard gain which would put Cornell on the Yale one yard line. Siwula would then punch it in for his second touchdown of the game.
Cornell faces rival Colgate next Saturday at 1 p.m. The Red Raiders have won nine straight games against Cornell.
Archived article by Tim Kuhls
Sun Staff Writer