If there was ever a game that could be used as a turning point, the football team’s double-overtime win over Brown last weekend was it.
Cornell (2-4, 1-2 Ivy) spotted the Bears seven points early in the game and then lost six fumbles, giving Brown chance after chance to put the contest away. However, the defense kept coming up with big stops, and the offense put together a clutch drive in its last opportunity to tie the game before winning in overtime.
“We went into the Brown week with a new mindset for the next half of the season,” said senior receiver Keith Ferguson, who set a new school record for career receptions in the Bears game. “We lost four of the first five, but we could really make a good push in the last five and make something of ourselves. We carried that into the Brown week and we’re continuing to carry that on.”
Such a turnaround in one game gives the Red a fresh outlook in the Ivy League. Where a loss to Brown would have effectively killed any chance at being competitive, Cornell now stands two games behind the leaders, and it faces another contender, Princeton (4-2, 2-1) on Saturday.
“If we can knock off Princeton, we can get back into the Ivy League race, which is where we want to be,” said senior quarterback Mick Razzano. “Obviously, you take it one game at a time, but this would be a big confidence win for us.”
The Tigers won’t be an easy adversary for the Red. They are coming off a 24-17 loss to 3-0 Harvard and will be aching to pull even with the Crimson. Princeton also has averaged over 400 yards of total offense per game this season.
“All the teams we’re playing from here on out are good teams,” noted Razzano. “There’s no game that we take off.”
By reaching the two-win mark, Cornell has already matched last year’s win total, and the Red still has four games left on the schedule. After Princeton, Cornell will host Dartmouth, which is also 2-1 in the Ivies. Then the Red will go on the road to face Columbia, followed by the season finale against Ivy leader Penn.
“It feels good that we could possibly go .500 this year; we could end up 6-4,” said Razzano. “That’s obviously better than 2-7.”
A 3-1 finish to the season would give the Red a .500 record to finish the season, which hasn’t happened since 2000, when Cornell faced the Quakers on the last day of the season with the Ivy title on the line.
However, head coach Tim Pendergast wants his team to focus on each game as it comes up on the schedule.
“Our goal is to be the champion this week,” he said. “It’s a one-game season every week. If we take care of the championship that is in front of us right now, then we’ll go on and worry about the next week.”
If every week ends up with the same result as the Bears game, Pendergast’s squad will have four more one-game championships to their credit by the end of the season.
“What I want this week is to win. I want to be 1-0 this week,” said Pendergast. “I just want to be 1-0 every week. That’s it. Last week, we met our goal — we won the game.”
Archived article by Alex Fineman