Much was made of Cornell’s experienced defensive line at the start of the year. The veteran group was expected to carry the young Cornell defense and complement the productiveness of the offense. The group was primed and ready for a run at Ivy glory.
Then, disaster struck. For the first six games of the season, the defense seemed unable to stop anyone. An above average week at home against Colgate was followed by the worst defensive effort in Ivy League history, when the Red allowed Brown 690 yards of total offense and 56 points.
Last week, after six weeks in tormented seas, the group seemed to finally have righted the ship. The group held Princeton to only 93-yards rushing, its best performance of the season by far.
How can a group of guys go from imploding and giving up 234 yards to Brown’s Mike Malan one week to absolutely blowing up Princeton the next week?
To be certain, it takes 11 men to stop an offense, and the senior right end was not the only reason for the improved play. But you wouldn’t know that from a quick glance at the stat sheet.
Whenever a big stop was needed, whenever a critical third or fourth down was up for Princeton, Bolton was there.
Take a critical fourth-and-two situation early in the second quarter, with the Tigers trying to sustain one of their longer drives on the day. Princeton pitched the ball out to the left, and Bolton came up with a solo tackle, for a loss.
The senior is unsurprisingly modest.
“I think last week’s plays were there for me to make, and I don’t know if it was luck or not [that I made them]. I just wanted to go out and play as good as I could,” he said. “I try and play consistent every week.”
Consistency is something this defense has been lacking.
“That’s what we haven’t done this year, we haven’t carried over from one week to the next,” said head coach Pete Mangurian.
Still, as the team enters the stretch run, the defensive line will be expected to step up and stop bigger offensive lines from opening holes and allowing runners through.
Bolton knows, that as a senior, this is his time to step up and help the team achieve its ultimate goal, an Ivy title.
“We’ve only got three games left, and I want to help this team as much as I can,” the lineman commented. “I’ve tried to go out and be more intense, as much as I could.
“I just try to do that every week,” he added.
Expect no less against Dartmouth. The Red is counting on him.
Be sure that Bolton and the d-line will answer the call.
Archived article by Charles Persons