October 3, 2005

Football Collapses Late, Loses at Colgate

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HAMILTON, N.Y. – For three quarters, the Cornell and Colgate football teams were neck and neck, tied at 20, with everything to play for in the final period.

At the start of the fourth quarter, the Red had the opportunity to force the Red Raiders, who were on Cornell’s 39-yard line and faced with a third-down situation, to punt. But, the demons of last week’s game against Yale – when the Bulldogs exploited the Red’s pass defense and threw for five touchdowns – came back to haunt Cornell.

On the ensuing play, Colgate quarterback Mike Saraceno found an open DeWayne Long, who ran into the end zone, giving Colgate (2-2, 0-0 Patriot) a lead it would never relinquish, as Cornell (1-2, 0-1 Ivy) fell, 34-20, on Saturday afternoon at Andy Kerr Stadium in Hamilton, N.Y.

“I thought we played very hard and I thought the effort of the players was very good,” said Cornell head coach Jim Knowles ’87. “We matched them in the running game, but we didn’t match them in the passing game.”

Sophomore tailback Luke Siwula again led the Cornell offense by running for 165 yards and a touchdown – being the only player in program history besides Ed Marinaro ’72, to rush for over 100 yards in his first three varsity starts.

Senior quarterback Ryan Kuhn, who received a majority of the snaps in favor of freshman Nathan Ford on Saturday, went 9-of-18 for 68 yards and ran for another 68 in the loss. However, while the Red generated 252 yards on the ground, the passing game was not as successful, garnering a paltry 79 yards.

“We’ve got to change up our passing game and we don’t have much in terms of vertical speed, so we have to work more on routes,” Knowles said.

While Siwula, who averaged an impressive 8.2 yards per carry, had another landmark day, the Red Raiders’ balanced offense was led by freshman tailback Jordan Scott, who gained 153 yards on 42 carries, becoming the first running back ever to rush for over 100 yards during Knowles’ reign as head coach.

Saraceno also had an impressive day, running for a touchdown and completing 16-of-32 passes for 224 yards, including three touchdowns passes – two of which went to receiver Kenny Parker.

Similar to its first two games of the season, the Cornell offense got off to a quick start on its first two drives. After the Red defense forced a pair of three-and-outs, Kuhn twice led his team down into Colgate territory, resulting in 38 and 47-yard field goals by senior placekicker A.J. Weitsman to give Cornell an early 6-0 lead.

Colgate, which was stuffed in its first three possessions, stuck with Scott and his power running game and scored on its fourth drive. On the back of Scott, Colgate drove downfield, culminating in a seven-yard touchdown reception by Parker. Throughout the game, Cornell had trouble stopping Colgate on third down, as the Red Raiders converted on 13-of-22 chances.

“I think he’s an excellent back,” Knowles said. “It’s going to be hard to hold anybody [under 100 yards] if he gets 42 carries. We didn’t get off the field after the third down – and they kept moving the sticks and kept giving it to him.”

As Knowles indicated during the week, Ford, who impressed last weekend against Yale with his play in the fourth quarter, got his shot and took to the field on the Red’s first series in the second period. However, Ford was not able to get anything going and Colgate was able to extend its lead to four on a 43-yard field goal on its next possession.

The Red conceded its first turnover of the game on Ford’s next drive, when, attempting to run a trick play, senior wide receiver Brian Romney was intercepted by Colgate’s Chris Williams.

But, Kuhn came back into the game on the Red’s next possession and, with Siwula, literally ran Cornell into the endzone. Siwula earned 20 and 19-yard gains while Kuhn ran for 13 on the series, as the Red took a 13-10 lead after senior tailback Joshua Johnston punched it in from close range with 1:05 left in the half.

It seemed as if the Red would be able to take its lead back into the locker room, but a stellar 59-yard kickoff return by Geoff Bean put Colgate on the Red 38-yard line. From there, Saraceno led the Red Raiders into the end zone, capping off the short drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Parker with three seconds left on the clock, giving Colgate a 17-13 lead going into the half.

“It’s demoralizing, but I’m not going to blame the loss on that,” Knowles said. “We got back into the game in the third quarter and it was a good sign for our team that we didn’t let [the Colgate touchdown] get to us. It hurts because we could’ve been at a positive, but now at the end of the half, we had to work out of a negative.”

Undeterred, the Red stormed out of the break and scored on its next possession. Highlighted by a third-down, 23-yard catch by freshman Tom Bleymaier from Kuhn, Siwula’s one-yard run into the end zone on the 10-play drive gave Cornell the lead. Colgate tied the game up with over six minutes left in the third, hitting a 36-yard field goal to make the score 20-20.

After Long’s go-ahead touchdown at the beginning of the fourth, the Red tried to bounce back by using Ford on its next series. However, Cornell was forced to punt the ball away.

On the Red Raiders’ next possession, Colgate sealed the deal when it drove from the Red’s 41-yard line all the way into the Cornell end zone, capped off by a Saraceno three-yard run to give the Red Raiders an almost unassailable two touchdown lead with 6:38 left in the game.

“We have to show that we’ve grown up some, that we can handle these losses and now that we’re coming home, we can take solace that we’re playing at home,” Knowles said. “We need to stick together and keep on improving.”

Archived article by Brian Tsao
Sun Assistant Sports Editor