November 20, 2000

Face-Off: Luck Deals Cornell a Bad Hand

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For the first six Ivy League games, Lady Luck cozied up to the Red football team, affording Cornell miraculous victory after miraculous victory, amazingly keeping the Red at the top of the conference standings week after week, and giving the squad a shot at its first shot at an outright league title.

When a last second kick had to be blocked, she made sure Joe Splendorio got his fingertips on it. When an critical extra point attempt had to be missed, she made sure that Princeton’s Talyor Northrup slipped on the Schoellkopf Turf. When a desperate Columbia scoring drive had to be stopped, she made sure that vital seconds crept off the clock. And when Harvard needed to lose to Penn last week so that Cornell could take on the Quakers for the Ivy crown, she made sure that a final minute touchdown pass sunk the Crimson.

Lady Luck guided the Red to the Ivy title game. But when it finally came time for the game, she abruptly deserted the Red. And more audaciously, she apparently even went so far as to cross the field and get in bed with Quakers, bringing them the Ivy title that she heretofore teased the Red with.

If Cornell was under any illusions that the bounces would break its way on Saturday afternoon, they were shattered immediately on the Red’s first drive when two ugly snaps flew past junior quarterback Ricky Rahne, forcing the squad to retreat and punt. Of course, on Penn’s ensuing drive, it went 80 yards, hurting the Red’s rhythm.

After taking a few plays off, Lady Luck struck again on the Red’s fourth series. Forced out of the pocket, Rahne flung a pass across body, aimed at sophomore Keith Ferguson. The ball was tipped into the air by Penn’s Kulne Williams, who then fell to the ground thinking he’d just forced an incompletion. But, just as he landed, the ball landed in his lap, amounting to an incredulous interception.

Only minutes later, another such pick occurred, leaving Lady Luck to blame for Cornell’s first half woes — at intermission the Red was already down 28-7.

But early in the third quarter, the Red was sitting on the Penn six-inch line, ready to trim the deficit to 14. But on fourth down, a Rahne sneak was stuffed for no gain, leaving the Cornell offense to wonder what else it could possibly try.

And yet, Lady Luck wasn’t done.

Penn, now stuck on its own one yard line, calmly marched down the field. Around the 50, a Gavin Hoffman pass over the middle of the field on third down was bobbled by wide receiver Jason Battung, who then turned around, caught the ball, spun around and sped off for a huge gain off a play that should have been nothing more than a forgettable incompletion and a Quaker punt.

Even when the Quakers attempted a field goal later on the drive, Lady Luck foiled the Red’s chances of mounting any kind of a comeback. She had the Red flagged for roughing the kicker, and Penn immediately capitalized with a touchdown scurry, completing a phenomenal 99-yard scoring drive and finishing the Red on the day.

The Red and its title hopes may have been dead, but Lady Luck was showing, throughout Saturday afternoon’s game, that she was alive and kicking. Only problem was that she was doing so on the wrong side.

Archived article by Shiva Nagaraj