October 20, 2006

Football Travels to Brown Seeking Third Win

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As King Henry IV said, “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” For the Brown football team, the Ivy League crown has proven too heavy to hold.

The Cornell football team hopes to reaffirm Shakespeare’s ominous words tomorrow when it travels to Providence, R.I,. to face the defending league champion Bears.

Brown (1-4, 0-2 Ivy) is mired in a four-game losing streak and will be looking for its first league victory in its Homecoming match-up against the Red (2-3, 0-2 Ivy).

“[Brown] is a team struggling to find its identity after winning the championship last year,” said Cornell head coach Jim Knowles ’87.

Brown’s struggles have not been limited to team introspection. The Bears rank last in the Ivies in rushing offense, averaging a paltry 80.6 yards per game. On defense, Brown has allowed the most points out of any Ivy team (139 for the season) and has experienced difficulties in containing the run (161.8 yards per game allowed). The Bears also have the worst turnover margin in the league.

However, despite these deficiencies, Cornell is not expecting an easy path to a critical league victory.

“We’re expecting Brown to bring a lot of intensity,” said junior Luke Siwula. “Their backs are against the wall at 1-4 and they will give us their best shot.”

Brown’s troubles on the ground have been partially offset by its dangerous air attack. Senior quarterback Joseph DiGiacomo is presently the most prolific passer in the league, averaging over 230 yards in the air per game for a season total of 1,160. DiGiacomo has thrown for seven touchdowns and seven interceptions.

DiGiacomo has consistently looked to Lonnie Hill, Brown’s No. 1 receiver, for the majority of the team’s offensive production. Hill has 489 catching yards this season, over 100 yards more than any other Ivy receiver. He has three touchdown catches on the year, including two in the Bears’ 35-30 loss at Holy Cross on Oct. 7.

Leading the Brown defense is senior Zak Deossie, the top tackler in the Ivy League with 36 solo stops. The multi-purpose linebacker also has two sacks this season.

“[Brown] will be aggressive on defense,” Knowles said. “We expect to get their best game.”

Cornell hopes to even its overall season record in Providence after its Homecoming victory over Colgate last weekend. The Red dominated Colgate for much of the game, limiting the Raiders to 14 points — the first time Cornell has held an opponent to under 20 points this year — and forcing four turnovers for this first time in 2006. However, sustaining this winning momentum on the road will be a challenge for Cornell. The squad is winless away from Schoellkopf thus far.

“This is a long trip,” Knowles said. “Our history on the road is such that we find ourselves in an adverse position. [In Providence,] we will need to establish what kind of team we are going to be for the rest of the season.”

With the Ivy king all but de-throned, Cornell’s quest for the crown continues tomorrow at Brown Stadium. The contest at Brown marks the beginning of five consecutive league games for Cornell, a perilous block of the schedule for a squad in search of its first league title since 1990. Yet, to quote Suffolk, “True nobility is exempt from fear.”

Kickoff tomorrow is at 1 p.m.