With 8:44 remaining in the first quarter, senior quarterback Ryan Kuhn scored the game-winning touchdown for the football team on a 10-yard scamper – and the rout was on. The Red went on to score the most points it had since 1970 in a 57-7 Homecoming thrashing of Georgetown (3-4, 1-2 Patriot) on Saturday afternoon at Schoellkopf Field. The win improved Cornell’s record at home to 3-0 and 3-2 overall, giving the Red a winning record at the halfway point of the season for the first time since 1999.
Cornell head coach Jim Knowles ’87 noted that the win was a result of phenomenal play on both sides of the ball, as the defense allowed the Hoyas to gain only 86 yards, while the Red offense accumulated 411 yards. Yet, he added that the biggest advantage for his team was its rushing attack, which gained an astonishing 323 yards and scored six touchdowns, despite the fact the sophomore tailback Luke Siwula, who rushed for 100 or more yards in the Red’s first three games, went down with an injury in the second half and rushed for just 34 yards on 15 carries in the game.
“We gave game balls to our senior offensive linemen,” Knowles said. “It was a team win, but our offensive line and our running game with Luke and [senior] Josh [Johnston] has just developed and we wouldn’t be where we are without them.”
The line was put to work early on, as the Red ran the ball seven times, including a 21-yard dash by Kuhn on Cornell’s second play from scrimmage on its first drive. This was part of an 11-play march which concluded with a 38-yard field goal by senior A.J. Weitsman that put the Red up, 3-0.
On the ensuing Georgetown possession, Cornell’s senior captains on the defensive side of the ball went to work in what would become their first win in a Homecoming contest, as Joel Sussman forced a Marcus Slayton fumble and Kevin Rex recovered the ball on the Hoyas’ 16-yard line.
Two plays later, Kuhn ran the ball in from the 10-yard line and Weitsman tacked on the extra point to put the Red up 10-0.
The first two scoring drives for the Red were, according to Knowles, a perfect display of the team’s new spread-option attack which places emphasis on fakes and misdirections.
“It all starts with being able to control the ball up front, be able to run it … and it’s a formula we’ve developed in a new-age style,” he said. “It’s not the old, boring ram-the-ball-into-the-line type of game anymore. It’s a high-speed, misdirection game, where we’re still running the ball, but it looks like fun.”
However, on its next drive, which went 57 yards in eight plays, the Red decided to have some of the fun Knowles talked about through the air as well. The big plays on the drive were a 21-yard pass by Kuhn to a wide open Johnston, who scampered down to the Georgetown 34-yard line, and the scoring strike, a 16-yard fade to junior Anthony Jackson, who made a highlight reel catch after a Georgetown defender tipped the pass, to put the Red up by 17 with 3:12 remaining in the first quarter.
Despite the fact that Kuhn had an efficient day throwing the football, completing 8-of-10 passes for 79 yards and a touchdown, he gave most of the credit on the scoring play to Jackson.
“It was a hitch-and-go. It was a pump fake, and Tony did a great job of beating the man off of press coverage,” Kuhn said. “I just threw it up, and tried to give him the opportunity to make a play … he made a great catch.
The Red’s next score was a direct result of the defensive unit’s solid stand against the Hoyas. Georgetown head coach Bob Benson elected to go for it on a fourth-and-one from his team’s 44-yard line, but Slayton was stuffed by Rex, giving the Red solid field position.
“They have a great defense, I’ll say that to you,” he said. “You’re not beating Harvard without a great defense and give them credit. We knew it was going to be tough up here today for us … they’re well coached and they play hard and they’re getting better as the season goes and that’s a credit to their staff … They’re good on defense now, don’t let anyone kid you, these guys are good.”
The defense was solid all day, as it held the Hoyas to just 86 yards of total offense – the lowest output by a Cornell opponent since Yale tallied 100 yards in a game against the Red in 1988.
The offensive took advantage of the field position it was handed and, after a 17-yard pass from Kuhn to Siwula on a third-and-12, Kuhn went untouched into the end zone from a yard out to put the Red up 24-0. The Red went up 26-0 on the ensuing Hoyas possession, as the Georgetown snap on its punt attempt hit the ground and the team’s punter kicked the ball off the turf, leading to an illegal kicking in the end zone penalty and a safety for Cornell.
The Red would not score again until there was 25 seconds remaining in the first half, when Weitsman, who was 2-for-2 on field goals and 7-for-7 on extra points, booted his second field goal, a 35-yard attempt, to put Cornell up 29-0 going into the locker room.
The third quarter saw the two teams trading punts and also trading touchdowns, as Kuhn scored his third rushing touchdown of the game, a 5-yard dash, to make the score 36-0 before the Hoyas got on the board with a 23-yard pass from Georgetown quarterback Ben Hostetler, who was filling in for the injured Nick Cangelosi, to Harrison Beacher.
For the game, Kuhn rushed 17 times for 85 yards, while Hostetler passed for 63 yards and a touchdown on 5-of-13 passing.
In the fourth quarter, the Red notched touchdowns on three consecutive possessions using its running attack on all three scoring plays to seal up the 50-point margin of victory – the largest for a Cornell team since a 1949 win over Columbia.
Freshman Shane Kilcoyne scored the first and the third scores of the quarter on runs of two and three yards, respectively, and finished the day with 70 yards on 10 carries. Johnston, the Red’s leading rusher on the day with 88 yards on 18 carries, plunged in for the second touchdown of the quarter, a 2-yard run that was a setup through a forced fumble by junior Jonathan Lucas and a Cornell recovery, giving the Red offense position on the Hoyas’ 11-yard line.
Archived article by Chris Mascaro
Sun Sports Editor