The Navy sprint football team (3-0) sailed away with a dominant victory over Cornell (1-2) on Sept. 23, recording a 41-0 victory on Schoellkopf Field. But luckily for the Red, that game was listed as a non-conference meeting between the CSFL foes and does not count towards final standings. Tonight will be a different story, however, as the Red opens league play against the Midshipmen in Annapolis, Md.
The Midshipmen dominated the first half of play against the Red in the teams’ first bout of 2005, leading 35-0 after two periods. The Red took solace in its strong defensive performance in the second half, limiting Navy to only seven points. Head coach Terry Cullen is searching for consecutive wins for the first time all season after defeating VMI at home this past Saturday, 39-12.
“There were a lot of positives from the VMI game,” Cullen said. “Our defense was strong, and [senior quarterback Alec] Macaulay played a real strong game for us. Our offensive line blocked better and we hope to build on our positives from the second half against Navy this week.”
Navy has won the past seven matches with the Red, dating back to 1999, and Cornell trails overall in the historic series between the teams, 12-46-2. A key for the Red defense tonight will be secondary play and stopping Navy quarterback James Olson, who threw for four touchdown passes in the first contest. Cornell managed to sack Olson seven times in that game, but Cullen is looking for more pressure from the Red defense.
The absence of starting defensive end senior Stevie Baron will be a tough obstacle to overcome for the veteran unit, but leaders like junior Matthew Collin and senior captain Amos Smith on the line, as well as junior linebacker John Samuel, who had a key first-quarter interception last week, classmate Jason Zittel and senior Ryan Juliano hope to pick up the slack.
“The defense has been our most steady unit all year,” Cullen said. “I believe we knew that going into the year that our defense, which is filled with returning guys, would adjust the easiest, now it is just up to our offensive line to continue their progress.”
According to Cullen, the key to getting the offense started will be the play of the offensive line – an aspect of the game that has been inconsistent for the Red this season. With four new starters, including junior Andrew Plaisted as left tackle, senior Daniel Bjornstrom at left guard, freshman center Ben Abramoff, and junior right guard Dave Frumberg, the line has been learning and making adjustments every week.
“There are a lot of new guys on the O-line and it takes time to gel as a unit, but they certainly picked up their game [against VMI],” Macaulay said. “Navy is a much tougher opponent than VMI, but the fact that we have continued to improve through our first three games makes me optimistic for our rematch with Navy. If we play smart and with confidence, I think we can surprise Navy.”
The better offensive blocking has resulted in a more efficient quarterback in Macaulay, and a more explosive running game featuring senior Michael Fullowan. Last week, Macaulay had his best performance, throwing for 103 yards and two touchdowns, including a long pass of 49 yards. Fullowan rushed for 50 yards and broke through for two touchdowns on the ground, as well as one in the air.
Archived article by Josh Fox
Sun Staff Writer