The sprint football team opened its 2002 season in uninspiring fashion last Friday in Philadelphia, losing to the Penn Quakers 17-3. The Red’s anemic offensive attack mustered only 77 yards of total offense, while Penn amassed 309 yards.
Penn’s offense was led by tailback Mark Gannon who rushed 27 times for 134 yards and a touchdown. A breakdown in Cornell’s pass coverage led to the Quaker’s first touchdown, while Gannon’s touchdown scamper helped the Quakers jump to a 17-0 halftime advantage.
After the break, Cornell’s defense solidified, yielding no further points. Its newly implemented 4-4 defense caused Penn numerous problems in the second half, forcing it into many three and out series. Senior linebacker Eric Eisenhart was outstanding, leading the Red with 18 tackles and a sack.
Head coach Terry Cullen praised the linebacker’s play.
“Eric had a very good game. He made a lot of plays all over the field,” he said. “He made a couple of mistakes, but overall he played a very solid football game.”
Jay Sackett, a senior captain and defensive tackle, was another standout, and as a team, Cornell recorded four sacks and forced a fumble.
“The 4-4 worked really well. We have a lot of good athletes, so the switch to a new defense wasn’t a big deal,” Sackett said. “Seventeen points is not too bad to give up to a good team, but it’s hard to win when you only score 3.”
Unfortunately, the defensive unit’s inspired second half performance was inconsequential. Struggling throughout the game, the Red’s offense failed to sustain a drive until the fourth quarter. The team did not record a first down until the third quarter and converted only 2 of 10 attempts on third down.
Disappointed with the performance, coach Cullen said, “Our offensive play was lackluster. The offense didn’t do too well all across the board. We didn’t block. We didn’t execute where we needed to, and we have a lot to do to get ready for next week.”
In the fourth quarter, Cornell finally gained some momentum on offense, driving 44 yards to the Penn 11 yard line. However, the drive stalled and the Red settled for sophomore kicker Chris Garnic’s 28-yard field goal. The three points brought Cornell to within two touchdowns of Penn, but thereafter, the Red could not mount any offense. Mustering only 77 yards, the Red had few bright spots on offense.
Tight end Michael Ormsby proved to be a consistent receiver. The junior caught a team-high three passes for 27 yards.
Cornell will look to even its record this Friday when it plays host to Princeton in a non-league matchup. Game time is 7 p.m. at Schoellkopf Field.
Archived article by Mark Fetzko