October 27, 2003

Football Falls to Brown in Homecoming Game

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Sophomore Nick Hartigan established himself as the Ivy League’s premier back with his performance during this weekend’s homecoming game. Unfortunately for Cornell, Hartigan was on the opposite sideline.

Hartigan ran for 203 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown run, in Brown’s (2-4, 1-2 Ivy) 21-7 dismantling of Cornell (1-5, 0-3). Hartigan credited his success to good blocking.

“Definitely the offensive line,” said Hartigan when asked what he owed his numbers to. “They did a great job the whole day … In the long run, I didn’t even get touched by that many people. I had to make one move and that was it.”

For all the raw talent that it displayed on the ground, Brown also used wit and deception to push the ball through the air. The Bears’ offense moved the chains and reached the endzone by exploiting Cornell’s defense, which had been studying run formations all week.

Cornell’s preparation got the best of itself on Brown’s second touchdown. Lining up in a run formation at Cornell’s 11 yard line, Brown appeared poised for its second rushing touchdown of the day. While the Bears tossed the ball left to Nick Marietti, what they did next seemed to take Cornell by surprise. Marietti, from the tailback position, aired it out to receiver Lonnie Hill for an easy six points.

Cornell’s biggest moment of the first half came when it blocked Brown’s extra point attempt. But the Bears weren’t finished. Brown had more tricks up its sleeve for the second half.

After starting on its own 38-yard line in the fourth quarter, the Bears’ offense marched to the Cornell 17 on just four plays. The drive ended on the fifth as Slager and Hartigan used a flea-flicker to fool Cornell’s defense. The play was completed to perfection, as Slager found Hill in the endzone for Brown’s third touchdown of the day. A two-point conversion made the score 21-0.

“The second one we dropped coverage,” said head coach Tim Pendergast of Brown’s deceptive plays. “Brown hadn’t been a huge trick play team coming in, particularly in that area of the field.”

Though it ended with just seven points, Cornell’s offense managed to move the ball into scoring range several times, as senior quarterback D.J. Busch, starting in place of injured senior Mick Razzano, finished with 236 passing yards and one touchdown.

After stopping Brown’s first two drives, Cornell had a chance to take an early lead with a field goal. Junior Trevor MacMeekin missed, however. It was his first of two missed first-half field goal attempts. Brown’s defense seemed to do the rest, limiting Cornell to just 90 yards of total rushing and pressuring Busch on several key plays.

“Once we settled in and got into the flow of the game, I think we played hard and made a lot of plays,” said Brown linebacker Drew Gallagher. “We didn’t get any turnovers, but we shut them out for 58 minutes of the game and that’s just good defense.”

Overall, the Brown defense sacked Busch five times for a total loss of 26 yards.

“We just got good pressure with our D-line and took advantage,” he added.

Cornell’s players spoke of another, deeper reason for the loss.

“We’ve been moving the ball on teams and we can’t put them away,” said Busch. “That’s something we have to look deep inside as players.”

Senior wide receiver Vic Yanz agreed.

“We were moving the ball, and we just couldn’t punch it in,” said Yanz. “This is the second time in three weeks that we played poorly in the red zone.”

Yanz, who had 118 yards and one touchdown on the day for a new personal best, found little comfort in his statistics.

“I’d rather have 10 drops if it came out to a win,” he said. “These kind of personal statistics don’t mean anything to me if we don’t come away with a win. It’s just a little frustrating.”

Yanz’s touchdown reception came late in the fourth quarter on a 10-yard pass from Busch. With 3:26 remaining in the game, however, it was too late. After a botched Cornell onside kick attempt, Brown recovered the ball at the Red’s 43-yard line. From there, the Bears ran out the clock.

Pendergast took the loss especially hard.

“It was a very painful loss for me personally — very excruciating, quite frankly,” he said. “I have to take all the blame for this loss, not the players. I obviously did not do my part in terms of preparation this week for the team, and the players deserve lots of credit for at least hanging in there.”

Some players, however, felt otherwise.

“We were prepared by the coaches,” Busch said. “There comes a point in time that as a team we have to come together and get it done on the field. There’s only so much that can take place on the sidelines. It’s not fair for coach Pendergast or the coaches to be taking blame for things that they don’t have much control over. Bottom line, we had some plays out there and we didn’t make them.”

Archived article by Matt Janiga