October 12, 2005

Sprint Loses Close Encounter to Navy

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Two weeks ago, the Cornell sprint football team looked as though it did not belong on the same field as Navy during a 41-0 loss to the Midshipmen. Two weeks later, it was evident that much had changed. While last Friday’s contest in Annapolis, Md., ended with another Red loss, the game could not have been much closer. Neither team scored an offensive touchdown, but the Midshipmen managed to eke out a 7-0 win.

The only points of the game came in the fourth quarter, when Navy defensive back Michael Molloy returned a blocked Red punt 42 yards for a touchdown. The score seemed to come out of nowhere, as the Red went three-and-out on its third drive of the fourth quarter, and it prepared to punt the ball to Navy for the 11th time. However, defensive back Patrick Flores was able to slip through the Red offensive line to block junior Jason Zittel’s punt. Molloy scooped up the live ball and scampered into the end zone for the game-winning score.

“They caught us unaware, and our snap was a little slow and our punter was a little slow, and they just made a great play,” said Cornell head coach Terry Cullen.

This contest was a defensive match-up from the outset, partly due to the hurricane-like conditions on the field. Neither team was able to move the ball effectively, with the Red averaging just 2.0 yards per play and the Midshipmen averaging 2.6 over the course of the game.

Those poor numbers led to a total of just 17 first downs for both teams, with eight for the Red and nine for Navy. The offensive production was so poor that Navy was the only squad able to move the ball into the red zone, and it squandered their only chance when Anthony Conticelli missed a 29-yard field goal into the wind.

Much of the offensive futility was directly correlated to the defensive prowess of both squads. The game saw just 272 yards of total offense, with the Red amassing 119 and the Midshipmen earning 153. For Navy, that was a drop off of more than 70 percent from the last time the Midshipmen faced the Red, when they racked up 457 yards.

In that game played on Sept. 23, the Midshipmen managed an explosive offense that thoroughly dominated the Red. Navy quarterback James Olsen threw for 230 yards and three touchdowns, on 11-of-21 passing. This time around, things were much different. Olsen was just 3-for-7, and accumulated just 10 yards in the air.

“We had a much better game plan going into this game as opposed to the last game,” Cullen said. “Last game, we really had a very suspect game plan. We thought we could play man coverage but there were some things that we just weren’t able to do. This time, we tried to confuse their quarterback by sometimes playing zone, sometimes playing man, and sometimes playing both. We also robbed with the free safety to make it even more confusing.”

The Red accomplished this with little flash, but rather using a total defensive effort that completely stymied the Navy offense. Senior linebacker Brett Morgenstern stood out for the Red, amassing eight tackles and sacking Olsen twice for a net loss of 17 yards. Senior Ryan Juliano, junior Trevor Schwartz, and freshman Jim Gonos also had eight tackles each.

Archived article by Jacob Lieberman
Sun Staff Writer