October 11, 2006

Red Beats Midshipmen

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It’s not often that the Navy sprint football team loses a game, let alone one that it had been leading almost all of the second half. Yet, Cornell was able to break its 15-game losing streak against the Midshipmen in dramatic fashion by engineering a game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter and scoring on its first play in overtime for a 16-10 win.

“This was one of the best football games I have ever been a part of,” said head coach Terry Cullen. “Winning just made it that much better.”

The game began as a defensive struggle in which neither team’s offense was able to get on the scoreboard. The Red (3-0) held Navy (2-1) to just 58 yards in the opening quarter and intercepted senior quarterback Chris Marsh twice — driving him from the game.

“We knew pretty much what they were going to do [on offense]” Cullen said.

Cornell drew first blood in the second quarter by using an interception by junior Ian Murray to set up a 25-yard field goal by senior Jason Zittel to put the Red up 3-0.

The score would remain that way until the beginning of the third quarter when Navy intercepted sophomore quarterback Zak Dentes and sailed 34 yards down the field to score the go-ahead touchdown. The Midshipmen would take advantage of another Red turnover late in the third quarter and add a 22-yard field goal to make the score 10-3.

“[Navy] really dominated for about eight or nine minutes in the second half,” Cullen said. “They switched to a power game that was running over us up the middle.”

Navy’s strategic adjustment would have paid further dividends and made it a two-possession game midway through the fourth quarter — yet, senior Matt Collin blocked a 28-yard field goal attempt that kept the Red within striking distance and set the stage for the ensuing late-game heroics.

After trading three-and-outs, Cornell got the ball back at its own 20-yard line with three and a half minutes left in the game. Needing a touchdown to tie the game, Dentes led the Red down to Navy’s 2-yard line by completing five passes —including a 33-yard completion to junior Jason Remillard on fourth-and-13 —before senior co-captain Mike Fullowan put the ball over the goal-line for the tying score.

“They really couldn’t handle Remillard or [sophomore receiver Michael Brennan]Brennan],” Cullen said. “Remillard especially is just too big and strong.”

With the game headed into overtime, Cornell won the coin toss and elected to defend first. After forcing the Midshipmen to turn the ball over on downs, the Red needed just one play — a 25-yard pass from Dentes to Brennan — to secure victory.

“Because [Navy] hadn’t scored [on its possession], they expected us to play for the field goal,” Cullen said. “They blitzed aniticpating the run and it worked out really well for us.”

Dentes finished the game with 241 yards passing — including five completions to Remillard for 153 yards — while on the defensive side, sophomore John Parke led the Red with 15 tackles.

Cornell will look to add to its win streak this coming Friday when it hosts Princeton.