Dominating time of possession and running 14 more plays than Navy (3-0), the sprint football team (0-3) appeared to be in control for much of Saturday’s game against the top team in the Collegiate Sprint Football League.
However, done in by its inability to stop the big play, Cornell could not hang on to its early lead, eventually falling to the Midshipmen, 31-6.
“We played extremely well,” said head coach Terry Cullen. “We just gave up some big plays … they would send a kid down the field and he would just outrun us.”
Navy took advantage of its big play potential early in the game, using a 32-yard pass play from Brian Nagle to Kevin Laughery to set up a 31-yard field goal, giving the Midshipmen a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
The Red struck right back, however, stringing together a 10-play, 61-yard scoring drive. Sophomore running back Michael Fullowan’s 11-yard touchdown run — the ensuing extra point was blocked — gave the Red a 6-3 lead heading into the second quarter.
Cornell’s momentum after the score was cut short, however, as Navy used a few more big passing plays to put itself back on top for good.
The Midshipmen used a touchdown strike of 36 yards from Nagle to Joe Leonardelli to jump out to a 10-6 lead. Later on in the quarter, Jonathan Chunn hooked up with A.J. Storrs for a 33-yard score to extend the Midshipmen advantage to 17-6.
The Red did have a shot of getting back into the game just before halftime, driving deep inside their opponent’s territory. However, after being pushed back to the 25-yard line after a penalty, Navy thwarted the scoring opportunity, intercepting Alec Macaulay’s pass on fourth-and-24.
In the second half, the Midshipmen took advantage of two more Cornell interceptions to build their lead.
Halfway through the third quarter, Navy’s Andrew Holmes picked off Macaulay at the Red 20-yard line and returned the interception for a touchdown.
On Cornell’s following possession, Navy came up with another interception at midfield. The Midshipmen wasted no time in taking advantage of this turnover, using a 49-yard passing touchdown from Nagle to Storrs to cap off the team’s scoring for the day.
From there on out, the teams went scoreless as the Navy defense kept the frustrated Red offense from punching through to the end zone.
Nagle finished the day passing 15 for 22, gaining 225 yards through the air.
“He can really throw the football,” Cullen said about the Navy quarterback. “He’s definitely the best player in the league.”
Meanwhile, A.J. Storrs led the Navy receiving corps, bringing in three passes for 112 yards. Throughout the game, seven different Midshipmen caught passes.
For the Red, Macaulay finished 17 for 36 with 134 yards, with Nick LiVigne hauling in seven of those passes for 58 yards. Fullowan also had another solid day running the ball, gaining 74 yards on the ground to go along with his one score.
Overall, however, Cullen felt that the Red failed to take advantage of scoring opportunities. “When we run that many plays, we should score 35 points,” Cullen said. “We went up and down the field … we just didn’t seem to get it into the end zone.”
Defensively, the coach was proud of his team’s ability to limit a Navy team, which was averaging over 500 yards per game and had already scored 77 points in a single game this season, to 374 yards of total offense.
“We shut down their tailback who is supposed to be the best one in the league,” Cullen said. “[Senior linebacker] Billy Snider played awfully well. Also, [junior defensive back] LaRue Robinson played very well. He basically shut down their top receiver.”
Snider led Cornell with 12 tackles, including nine solo and a sack, as well as a fumble recovery.
The Red will next be in action on Friday as they travel to Princeton seeking their first victory of the season.
Archived article by Scott Reich
Sun Staff Writer