This past Saturday, the city of Saratoga, N.Y. rolled out the red carpet for the sprint football team and the Red (1-0) did not dissappoint by defeating Penn 20-12 in its first contest of the season. Combining a stingy effort by the defensive front with a couple of quick offensive strikes, the Red was able to stifle a strong Quaker offense and pick up the victory.
“The defensive line really won the game for us,” said head coach Terry Cullen. “They all played a very physical game and were able to knock [Penn’s] entire starting backfield out of the game.”
The defensive unit set up the first Red touchdown when it recovered a Quaker fumble at its own 10-yard line, midway through the first quarter.
From there, Cornell needed only three plays to get on the board, as senior tailback Mike Fullowan ran the ball in from two yards out. Penn answered by scoring on its next possession, which knotted the game at 6-6 as the Red was able to block the extra-point attempt. The Penn touchdown ended scoring for the half, and the teams went into the locker room tied.
“We came out playing quite conservatively,” Cullen said. “As a result, we had trouble getting the offense going early.”
The Red’s offensive struggles did not continue, however. Sophomore quarterback Zak Dentes led a scoring drive mid-way through the third quarter. Making his first career start, Dentes recorded his first career touchdown, a four-yard pass to junior Jason Remillar, with seven minutes left in the quarter to put the Red on top 13-6.
“Dentes played very well and only got stronger as the game went on,” Cullen said.
The Quakers did not take long to respond, as they engineered a 57-yard touchdown drive that ate up over six minutes from the clock. In yet another strong special teams effort on the following possession, the Red was able to block the extra-point attempt and retain a slim one-point lead.
After both teams turned the ball over on downs, Cornell was able to seal the game with a 68-yard drive that took only seven plays and ended with Dentes’ second touchdown of the game, this time a six yard run.
With a little more than five minutes left on the clock, the Quakers could only manage 22 more yards until the Cornell defense shut them down to preserve the 20-12 win.
“Penn threw the ball really well and did a great job controlling the game,” Cullen said.
While the Red’s offense accumulated over 250 yards, it was its defensive play that stood out. Despite being on the field for 62 plays, the defense recorded nine sacks and recovered two fumbles, including three sacks and a blocked extra point by senior lineman Matt Collin.