Cornell (5-5, 5-2 Ivy) saw it hopes of a first outright Ivy Championship dashed Saturday as Penn (7-3, 6-1 Ivy) defeated the Red, 45-15, in front of over 9,014 fans at Schoellkopf Field.
Penn’s Gavin Hoffman completed 27 of 34 passes for 330 yards and two touchdowns on the day, while tailback Kris Ryan ran over and around the Cornell defense for 243 yards and four touchdowns.
The story of the game was once again the Red putting itself in a hole, though this time it was too large for it to emerge from.
The day began as ominous as the sky looked, with the Quakers driving 74 yards against a Cornell defense that didn’t look like it had even bothered to warm up.
The Quakers did everything right. Hoffman was four-for-five, with his only incompletion coming on a ball that he had to throw away on second and goal to avoid a sack. Ryan rushed five times for 31 yards, as his offensive line opened huge holes. The drive was capped off by a Hoffman pass to a wide open Adam Keslosky.
“I think we came out really well and fired up in the first half,” said Hoffman. “We’re really conifident in what we could do.”
Cornell’s offense showed signs of life right off the bat as well, proving that it wanted to hang with the Quakers. Junior Ricky Rahne threw a 34-yard strike to Tim Hermann on the second play from scrimmage, and the Red appeared to be off an running. But two of the next three plays were marred by bad snaps from senior center Chris Morosetti and Cornell marched 15 yards back into it own territory and had to punt the ball away.
The next drive was no better for the Red defense than the first one had been. Penn marched down the field seemingly unopposed, and Ryan tore up the sidelines 39 yards for the second Quaker score and the first of his four on the day.
The Red once again came out of the gate on its second drive, but after two straight first downs, Rahne threw two incompletions and then was sacked.
It seemed as though Penn was destined to score a third straight time when Hoffman completed his eighth pass (on nine attempts) to Johnathon Robinson, but Jesse Rodriguez made a huge tackle and forced the freshman to fumble. Rosco Newsom fell on the fumble and the Red was in business with fantastic field position at the Penn 42.
Five plays later, Cornell was in the promise land on the shoulders of a three yard run up the middle by junior Justin Dunleavy. Rahne completed three of three passes on the drive before Dunleavy punched it in.
The defense couldn’t stop Penn again though. The next two drives resulted in Penn touchdowns while the Cornell offense stalled. Hoffman was literally unstoppable, completing everything, while Ryan ran through the line often enough to keep the defense honest against the run.
Meanwhile, Rahne would be picked off twice in the second quarter, each killing all momentum the Red appeared to be gaining. Four of Cornell’s first five drives made it into Penn territory, but from there the Red could do little. Most frustrating was a drive after sophomore Derek Kingrey intercepted a Hoffman pass and returned it to the Penn 33. The drive only last six plays and only managed to move the ball 12 yards. The Red failed to capitalize when junior kicker Peter Iverson failed to convert a 38-yard field goal.
THe 28-7 halftime lead Penn held seemed well within the reach of a team known for coming back from deep deficits. Despite that, the Quakers felt they could hold Cornell.
“We knew what they were thinking, they were thinking they were going to come from behind regardless, but we just made sure we put our foot down,” said senior Joey Alofaituli.
The Red seemed to be defying that Penn determination when it marched straight down the field in the third quarter on what had been a very stingy Penn defense. The drive went 15 plays for 70 yards and Cornell faced first-and-goal from the six. Despite the chance to get back in the game, Cornell quarterback Ricky Rahne was unable to convert a fourth down quarterback sneak from the one, effectively destroying any momentum the Red had gained and leaving the score 28-7.
“To take four or five minutes on that drive and come away with nothing obviously deflates you,” said Penn coach Al Bagnoli.
Penn effectively nailed the door shut on the ensuing drive, when it drove 99 yards on 18 plays and ate 7:59 off the clock. Cornell was left with 11 minutes on the clock, down four touchdowns. The deficit was too much to over come.
Penn would score twice more times, including on a 50-yard run by Ryan to seal the game, while Cornell would finally add its second touchdown on a run by junior Evan Simmons with a little under two minutes left in the game.
Bagnoli felt the Quakers had pulled out all the stops for this game.
“I thought we played the best game we’ve played all year, and we picked a pretty good time to do it,” he said.
Mangurian emphasized Penn’s ability to do what it had to do to win.
“They did a tremendous job, they played an outstanding game,” he said. “Whatever they needed to do, they made the play and we didn’t.”
With the win, the Quakers claimed their second Ivy League Championship in three years and took back the Trustees’ Cup, annually awarded to the winner of the Penn-Cornell game.
Cornell left with only bitter memories and the knowledge that it had come so close to its goals.
We didn’t make the plays when we had to,” said senior co-captain Joe Splendorio. “That’s what it comes down to.”
Archived article by Charles Persons