October 13, 2006

Red Looks to Defend Home Turf

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The last time the Cornell football team beat Colgate at Schoellkopf field, the Berlin Wall was standing, Dukakis was running for President and Brooke Hogan was born.

It was 1988 — also the last time Cornell won an Ivy League championship — and the Red beat the Raiders at home, 17-14.

Tomorrow, Cornell (1-3, 0-2 Ivy) hopes to reverse this unfortunate recent trend when the Raiders visit Ithaca in the 89th meeting between the two teams. Colgate (2-3, 1-0 Patriot) — winners in 20 of the past 23 games against the Red — will be searching for its 11th consecutive victory in the series.

“This game is extremely important to us,” said Cornell head coach Jim Knowles ’87. “It’s a local rivalry and traditionally Cornell has not done well against Colgate.”

In fact, Cornell leads the all-time series, 46-39-3, but in recent years the Raiders have been rapidly closing the gap. During the 11-year tenure of Colgate head coach Dick Biddle, the Raiders have won 27-of-33 games against Ivy League opponents.

“We all know the history,” said sophomore quarterback Nathan Ford. “We haven’t beat [Colgate] in 10 or 11 years. It’s a big game for our program.”

The close geographical proximity of Ithaca and Hamilton makes the non-league rivalry all the more appropriate.

“I’m not saying its Ohio State-Michigan, but it’s certainly a natural rivalry,” Biddle said.

The Raiders wish to exact some revenge on the Ancient Eight after falling to Princeton, 27-26, last Saturday. A failed two-point conversion play in overtime sent Colgate to its third non-conference loss of the season.

Colgate tailback Jordan Scott rushed for 96 yards against the Tigers and will challenge Cornell’s rush defense tomorrow. Scott has scored six times rushing this season and is averaging over 100 yards per game on the ground.

At quarterback, Colgate senior Mike Saraceno has passed for four touchdowns and a .645 completion percentage this season. His favorite target has been sophomore David Morgan, who leads the Raiders with 217 yards receiving and two touchdowns.

On defense, junior linebacker Mike Gallihugh is avergaing over 12 tackles per game, the top mark in the Patriot League. As a team, the Raiders are first in the league in scoring defense (18.6 points allowed per game) and second in rush defense (115.4 yards allowed).

“Colgate is a really athletic team,” said Cornell junior running back Luke Siwula. “They don’t give up too much on defense. We need to find a way to contain their athleticism.”

The Red is eager to return to Schoellkopf after a tough league loss to Harvard in Cambridge last Saturday. Down 30-10 at halftime, Cornell rallied for 13 points in the second half against the undefeated Crimson yet still fell short, 33-23. The Red’s fifth-ranked rush defense allowed Harvard running back Clifton Dawson to rush for 100 yards and two scores.

Now, with four of its remaining six games at home, the Red is hoping to boost its .640 home-winning percentage and balance its 2006 record with a few wins.

“It’s a big opportunity for us to come out and show what we’re really made of,” said sophomore wide receiver Jesse Baker.