Will history repeat itself?
364 days after clinching its only win of the 2014 season over Columbia, the Red have the chance to do the same in 2015. Both games come off a loss to Dartmouth in which the Red were only able to produce one score.
The task against Columbia will not be easy, as the Lions have impressed through wins against Wagner College and an upset over Yale.
The Red are coming off a rollercoaster of a loss against Dartmouth, showing strong defensive stands and holding a 3-0 lead going into the second quarter. Shortly after, however, the Green found its rhythm and held the Red off to cruise to a 21-3 win, Dartmouth’s seventh of the year.
Now the Red, who have been outscored 143 to 54 in its last four games are left searching for answers on how to overcome the Lions once again. This year, however, the Red will face a Lions squad that has new faces all around.
First-year head coach Al Bagnoli, who spent the past 12 years as the skipper for Penn, has changed the Lions from a winless squad to a force to be reckoned with within the Ivy League. He has been able to utilize his several transfer players to change the face of the club among its peers.
“Their makeup is a little different on the field and not just on the sidelines,” Cornell head coach David Archer said. “[Bagnoli] is an unbelievable Ivy League coach. He has brought in a really good staff.”
Skyler Mornhinweg, a University of Florida transfer, has taken over the reigns at quarterback. His overall efficiency has increased two percent on last years starter Trevor McDonagh, and his completion percentage has risen by six percent to 58.5 percent.
“You have a kid who has played quarterback for the Gators in Skyler Mornhinweg, so he has tremendous talent,” Archer added. “He can certainly beat you with his arm and his legs.”
Along with the addition of Mornhinweg, senior running back Cameron Molina has already matched last season’s yardage and touchdown totals in two fewer games and 10 fewer attempts. Molina’s career-high 118 rushing yards in one game came against the Lions loss last year to the Red.
Another problem that the Red needs to look out for is playing a solid game for much longer than the first quarter. It seems that the Red usually gets off to a strong start, playing solid defense and keeping the pressure up on offense. In fact, the Red has only given up 38 first quarter points all season, about half of the total they they give up for every other quarter. In contrast, the second quarter has proven to be kryptonite as the Red have given up a whopping 102 second quarter points.
Unluckily for the Red, the second quarter happens to be Columbia’s most proficient quarter, totaling 42 points in the second quarter throughout the season, their highest for each of the quarters.
On top of all this, Saturday’s game serves as the final home game for the Red’s 21 seniors, meaning a win would be that much more gratifying.
“It’s definitely sad going through this whole process,” senior wideout Chris Lenz said. “It’s been a long road, it’s been tough, but the reason you do it is because you love the game. It’s definitely hard to see it be the last game out here.”
For the seniors who will be departing to accomplish bigger and better things, leaving a team they have loved will not be easy.
“It hasn’t really hit me yet,” senior linebacker James White said. “I definitely have been grateful for every opportunity to come out here and put on this ‘C’ on my helmet and represent this great university.”
According to Archer, the Red have to “attack the moment and take the win,” something they haven’t been able to do all season. They will have to chance to repeat history when fighting for a win over the Lions and salvage what is left with two games remaining.