Following a close loss to Chestnut Hill (1-2) last week, Cornell (1-2) now turns its attention to reigning CSFL champion, Army (2-1). The Red travels to West Point tomorrow night.
“We had a tough loss last week, but we are using it as motivation to get ready for Army,” said junior wide receiver Ryman Seeley. “They will be a big test for us, and West Point is a hard place to play, but we will give them everything we have. I am optimistic about our chances to come away with a win.”
In last week’s game at Chestnut Hill, Cornell battled back from a 16-point deficit to take the lead, but ended up losing to the Griffins in the first ever matchup between the two teams.
“We try to take positives away from every game,” said senior quarterback Robert Pannullo. “We fought hard all game despite being down early, and that’s what we are going to take into this weekend.”
Army is coming off of a 58-0 win over last-place Mansfield, in which the Knights dominated the Mountaineers from start to finish. The Army defense held Mansfield to just eight rushing yards on 35 attempts.
The Red will have to overcome Army’s consistently strong defense, which has allowed just over 17 rushing yards per game over its first three contests. In Army’s loss to undefeated Penn, the Knights held the potent Quaker offense to just 52 rushing yards.
“Defensively, they are absolutely outstanding,” co-head coach Terry Cullen said. “That will be a real test for our offense.”
Cullen also praised Army’s ability to take advantage of every opportunity the team is given.
“There is just not very much you can do against this team,” he continued. “We can’t turn the ball over, and are hoping for a couple of breaks to go our way.”
Additionally, Cornell has been plagued with injuries throughout the season. Fourteen players on the roster are currently injured.
“This has been a very strange season injury-wise,” Cullen said. “So many of our players have been hurt or sick recently.”
The Red has experimented this season with playing three quarterbacks in the losses to Navy and Chestnut Hill. However, Cullen believes that Pannullo will be the team’s primary quarterback for the foreseeable future.
Seniors Ryan Jackson and McCarthy lead the defense with 15 solo tackles apiece. At times, the Red has shown signs of excellence defensively, but it still has allowed less-than-ideal averages of 27 points per game and 6.2 yards per play.
“What Army does is not very tricky [but] they just do it very well,” Cullen said. “So preparation for them isn’t very difficult; we just need to figure out how to counteract it.”
Despite some struggles on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, Cullen is confident in his special teams, saying that it is the team’s strong point at the moment.
The Red will look to defeat Army for the first time since 2010 this Friday night. In the past three meetings between the teams, Cornell has only been able to muster a combined seven points against the stingy Knights’ defense.
“We can only worry about the things we can control, so we don’t care who is going against us on a given week,” Pannullo said. “We’re going to prepare ourselves the way we need to be ready for each game regardless of the opponent.”
After its matchup with Army, the Red will receive a much needed bye week in order to get healthy and prepare for the second half of its schedule.