TOWSON, Md. — The skies were an ominous shade of gray Saturday afternoon at Johnny Unitas Stadium, the perfect backdrop for a football game portraying similar characteristics for both Cornell and Towson, as the host Tigers defeated the Red, 21-11, before 2,522. A combined 22 penalties for 207 yards told the whole story in what was one of the sloppier efforts the Red has put forth this season.
“It was a hard-fought game, no excuses from our end,” said Cornell head coach Jim Knowles ’87. “Our players don’t quit, we won the second half, all those niceties. But we’re all strongly disappointed because we felt we could play with Towson. We just made too many mistakes at inappropriate times.”
Junior wide receiver Brian Romney was the star for the Red, catching six passes for a total of 70 yards. However, Cornell struggled to produce much offense otherwise, gaining only 13 first downs, four of which came before halftime.
Meanwhile, despite a less than perfect performance, Towson kept pressure on the Red throughout the first half of play, taking a 14-0 lead into the intermission.
The Tigers got on the board with an 11-play, 56-yard touchdown drive on their very first possession. Towson compiled four first downs on the drive, using a very effective combination of run and pass plays. Running back Kerry Miles was featured extensively in the drive, getting six touches, including the final carry, a two-yard gain on second and goal for his first touchdown of his career.
“I thought that at the beginning of the game, we weren’t ready to play defensively,” Knowles said. “They took the ball right down the field on us, we really can’t let that happen.”
“One of the things that we harped on all week was starting out quickly, and then finish the play when we get there,” said Towson head coach Gordy Combs. “I thought we did a good job on that first series, on both sides of the ball.”
Cornell kept Towson in check for most of the remainder of the half, despite being unable to get anything going for itself on the offensive end. The Red did not produce a first down until the very last series of the opening quarter, and failed to make any meaningful advance into Towson territory at all in the first half.
However, it did seem as if momentum was going to swing in the Red’s favor late in the second quarter. After the Tigers put together a 12-play, 56-yard drive that placed them deep in Cornell territory, kicker Stephan Toth lined up for a 26-yard field goal attempt. But, as has happened every other time a Red opponent has attempted a field goal this season, senior Joel Sussman soared high above the line to block the kick.
Cornell recovered and quickly advanced to the Towson 35. However, the Red shot itself in the foot when senior quarterback D.J. Busch was intercepted on the fifth play of the drive.
The Tigers took advantage of the mistake, quickly getting in position for a 43-yard touchdown reception by Will Marcus as time ran out in the half. It would turn out to be all the scoring the Tigers would need.
“Blocked kick, we had an offensive drive going, we were right back in the game, and we turn it over,” Knowles said.
Cornell had a much easier time in the second half, finally stringing together some effective plays on offense. The Red got at least one first down on every possession of the third quarter. Cornell got on the board for the first time with 2:29 left in the quarter, as senior Trevor MacMeekin converted on a 32-yard field goal attempt to bring the score to 14-3 in favor of Towson.
The Red’s lone touchdown on the game came on a 23-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Troy Follmar about halfway through the fourth. Busch threw a strong, tight pass over the middle, and Follmar climbed ladder and came down with ball over a Towson defender at the goal line.
Busch found junior tight end Chris Eckstein on the right side for the two-point conversion, and Cornell found itself within 10 points with 7:39 left in the game. Unfortunately for the Red, however, the Tigers offense did an excellent job of running down the clock. After the Cornell touchdown, Towson had two possessions, totaling 5:36. By comparison, Cornell had possession for only 1:55, and was unable to get any substantial drive going.
Archived article by Owen Bochner
Sun Sports Editor