By SHAN DHALIWAL
The Army West Point sprint football program can never be taken lightly. A powerful rushing defense combined with a penetrating offense makes reaching the end zone against this powerhouse nearly impossible.
The Cornell sprint football team dropped this past Saturday’s conference game to the Black Knights, 33-0, and ultimately fell to 2-1 on the season. The Knights were coming off an 86-0 victory over Princeton the previous week and have yet to give up a point all season. In three games, the Knights have outscored their opponents 153-0.
Senior wide receiver Trevor Marrero, who received for 123 yards in the game, described the Red’s preparation in practice prior to facing the Knights.
“Offensively, I know we tried to do some more shots down the field in the passing game,” he said. “We also prepared a lot for Army’s rushing attack in practice.”
Army got on the board early with a 30-yard first quarter touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Brady Miller to junior wide receiver Austin Breed. The Red responded late in the quarter with a reception from sophomore defensive back Karriem Royster, but could not convert the change in possession to a touchdown.
Junior quarterback Rob Pannullo passed for 140 yards despite the loss, completing a monster 50-yard pass to Marrero early in the second quarter that brought the Red to the 22. The Red was not able to penetrate Army’s defense from there, and another pass from Miller to Breed late in the second quarter — this time of 23 yards — combined with a safety in the middle of the quarter put the Knights up, 16-0, at halftime.
The Knights had two rushing touchdowns and a field goal in the second half to finish off the game.
A combination of strong rushing offense and defense made the difference for the Knights in the matchup. Led by junior running back Marqus Burrell, who rushed for a net gain of 92 yards, the Knights out-rushed the Red 162 to 23. They also administered five sacks.
There were highlights to the Red’s performance despite the loss. The strong offensive connection between Pannullo and Marrero was clearly evident, with Pannullo passing for 140 yards and Marrero receiving for 123. Defensively, junior linebacker John Zelek administered six solo tackles and CSFL defensive player of the week Christopher D’Ambrosio had five of his own to lead a defense that held Army to its lowest point total on the season.
Nevertheless, the Red will have to practice hard this week to regain positive momentum for its second home game of the season against rival Penn on Friday.
“We are going to put the mistakes we made this Saturday behind us and focus on Penn,” Marrero said. “They are off to a good start this year, also at 2-1, so it will be a great match up.”