For Cornell (3-4, 3-1 Ivy) to win its second game in a row and remain atop the Ivy League, it will have to do what it was unable to do last year.
Get past Dartmouth (1-6, 0-4 Ivy).
Last year the Big Green snapped its ten-game losing streak against a Cornell team that up until then had been contending for the Ivy title, surprising the Red with a 20-17 rain-soaked victory in Hanover, NH. The loss eventually cost Cornell a share of the Ivy title, something that will likely weigh heavily on the minds of this year’s Red players when they entertain the Green tomorrow at 1 p.m. on Schoellkopf Field.
“We’ve beaten this team 10 times in the last 45 years. That’s the reality of this,” said head coach Pete Mangurian. “We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Luckily for the Red, the Green will be far from full strength, and could have as many as 26 players out of action.
The losses include several notable players, including team captain Caleb Moore. An ankle injury will sideline the talented offensive lineman, and could render the Dartmouth ground game more ineffective than usual. With the big senior down last week, the Green only managed 215 yards of total offense against Harvard.
Other injured players for Dartmouth include leading rusher Aaron Pumerantz and wideout Matt Davis.
Still, Mangurian knows this team will not just fold without its big players.
“They’re going to play hard. They’re big, they’re strong and they’ve been in every game [this year],” Mangurian said.
The Red did a number of things better last week than it did at perhaps any other time in the season. Junior tailback Evan Simmons rushed for 100 yards for only the second time in the season and the defense held a potent Princeton offense to only 292 total yards. The defensive effort also included a season-best 93 yards allowed on the ground.
“Last week was a big motivation for us,” said senior defensive lineman Jay Bolton. “We stepped up, especially as a defense, and played well. The important thing is to carry that into this week.”
Cornell still sits 115th in Division I-AA in terms of total yard allowed per game, but the offense should take comfort in the fact that Dartmouth is only two spots higher on the totem pole at 113.
Critical to the Red’s success will be ability to get penetration from its defensive line once again this week. The group, led by Bolton, shut down the Tigers last week, but Dartmouth can pose a bigger rushing threat.
Returning from an injury this week will be senior Reggie Belhomme, who ran for a score against the Red last year. He will join Michael Gratch, who led the Green with 54 yards last week on 15 carries.
The Red offense will be looking to once again rush the ball often enough to keep Dartmouth honest, but should pass for the majority of its yards again. Sophomore Keith Ferguson has emerged as a legitimate deep threat at wideout, having caught his second long touchdown pass in as many weeks against Princeton.
A victory will ensure that the Red retains its spot atop the Ivies, a loss will almost certainly knock it out of contention for the crown again this year.
“We need to win all our remaining games if we want to accomplish our goals,” said quarterback Ricky Rahne. “You can’t go one big game, one bad game.”
Two big games in a row will mean the Red are one step closer to the elusive Ivy crown.
Archived article by Charles Persons