After two consecutive losses and a bye week, Cornell sprint football has been treating its final three games as a completely new season, according to Co-Head Coach Bart Guccia.
Despite poor weather, the Red (2-3) was able to win its first home game of the season against Post (0-5), by a final score of 27-13.
“The rain was not too bad on the artificial turf,” Guccia said of the conditions. “The rain and wind were intermittent, so we were able to keep the balls dry, and ultimately it didn’t affect us too much.”
The only fluid offense in the opening half came when senior quarterback Robert Pannullo was able to manufacture a methodical scoring drive for the Red — with under a minute remaining before halftime — and rushed the ball in for the score. Freshman kicker Ben Finkelstein missed the point after, and so the Red took a 6-0 lead into halftime.
The Red was able to continue its success in the second half, scoring on its first possession of the third quarter, courtesy of Pannullo’s second rushing touchdown.
“Post is a really good team, and we were feeling them out in the first half,” Pannullo said. “We turned the ball over twice, which slowed us down a bit, but once we cleaned that up, we came out strong in the second half, and finished some drives.”
Cornell’s special teams unit blocked a Post punt on the next series, and the Red recovered the ball on the Eagles’ 40-yard line. Following the block, Cornell was able to punch it into the end zone on its third consecutive drive, with a 14-yard rush by freshman Will Griffen.
Post finally got on the board, with 12 minutes remaining in the game, when quarterback Sayvon Willis found receiver Rocco Guerrera for a 31-yard touchdown pass.
However, the Red would not let the Eagles back into the game, scoring on its very next possession. Pannullo hit junior wide receiver Ryman Seeley for Cornell’s first passing touchdown of the night.
Post would tack on another touchdown in the final seconds of the game against the Red’s substitute defensive unit, but Cornell was the team to walk away victorious.
“It was a big game for us to win because we were coming off of two straight losses and had a bye week to get ourselves right,” Seeley said.
Pannullo finished the contest with 88 passing yards and one touchdown through the air, to go along with 120 rushing yards and two scores on the ground.
“It all started up front with the offensive line,” Pannullo said. “[Senior lineman] Caleb Minsky has been the leader for that group throughout the season. Anytime your team runs for over 200 yards, you have to chalk it up to a dominant offensive line; they did a great job this week, and we will need them next week against Penn.”
Griffen ended with 60 rushing yards and a touchdown, while both Seeley and Griffen each had 39 yards receiving.
“We were able to run the ball pretty well against them and that opened up our passing game a little bit in the second half,” Seeley said.
The Cornell defense came up huge, allowing only 229 yards passing and negative five rushing yards on 20 attempts.
“The defense played a great game and did not allow them to move the ball very much,” Seeley said.
Defensive backs, like senior Ryan Jackson and freshman Marcus Weeks, anchored the defense for the Red, with seven tackles coming for Jackson and six for Weeks. Even Pannullo had four tackles of his own.
“Our defense played very well in this game,” Guccia added. “It was probably the best that they had played all season.”
Next week, the men will travel to Philadelphia to take on first place Penn on Friday at Franklin Field. With a win, Penn would clinch a CSFL crown.
“This was the first step in our goal to win the final three games of the year,” Guccia said. “Now we are looking to win the final two games to complete that goal.”