October 15, 2007

Morand keys momentum shift

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Sometimes, momentum can change on a dime, or even a bobble. In the football team’s 17-14 victory over Colgate on Saturday, sophomore cornerback Frank Morand helped to swing momentum in Cornell’s direction by taking advantage of bobbled pass, turning it into an interception return for 72 yards for a touchdown at the beginning of the third quarter. The interception was part of a career day for the sophomore.
The interception occurred after Colgate was leading 7-3 and had just regained the momentum in the game after picking off a pass by Cornell junior quarterback Nathan Ford. The Raiders were in striking distance, driving into Red territory. Colgate Junior quarterback Alex Relph looked right to sophomore receiver Pat Simonds, but Simonds could not cradle the ball, and Morand was able to take it from him. The cornerback burst down the field, taking the ball 72 yards for Cornell’s first touchdown of the day. It was the Red’s first defensive touchdown since Nov. 10, 2001, when Kevin Rooney ‘04 returned one against Columbia.
“That is a set play, they had run that earlier in the game,” Morand said. “I was trailing [Simonds] in that situation. It was something I had seen before, I had seen all week. He got a little in front of me, I think, and I couldn’t even tell you how the ball ended up in my hands. It ended up in my hip, and then I stumbled there on the first few steps and I was able to break away.”
“I should have caught it either way,” Simonds said. “It probably went through my hands. I don’t really remember exactly what happened, but I didn’t make the play. It was kind of the story of the day.”
Morand’s big play helped to motivate the rest of the team. After his score, Cornell was able to score its only offensive touchdown later in the half, helping to propel the team to the win.
“[Morand’s touchdown] was huge,” said junior Nathan Ford. “We struggled a little bit in the beginning, and the defense really carried us, I’d say at least through halftime. They just kept making plays and kept us in the game. We were struggling and found our groove finally. [The touchdown was] a big boost. When we are down 7-3, and now we are up, and now we have the ball. It is a whole different mentality going into it, so it’s huge.”
Colgate had gone to Simonds all day, and the wide receiver had even caught a touchdown pass earlier in the game. Previously this season, Simonds had been the Raiders’ No. 2 receiver, catching 15 balls for 267 yards and two touchdowns. With 31 catches, senior Erik Burke had been the go-to-guy in the passing game. But on Saturday afternoon, Simonds got into a rhythm with Relph. In the first half, all three of Relph’s completions were to Simonds, including the touchdown. Morand had covered the sophomore frequently and had given up a big catch to him earlier.
“Being a defensive back, and a corner especially, you have to have a short memory,” Morand said. “One of those plays … where [Simonds] went down the field himself, one of those was over me.”
Coming into the game, Morand had been enjoying a solid season, picking up 15 total tackles after playing in eight contests and recording five tackles last year. On Saturday, though, the Cincinnati, Ohio native picked up a half of a tackle for a loss and broke up a career-high four passes, to go along with the interception.
“How about Frank Morand?” said head coach Jim Knowles ‘87. “Here is a kid who is just a sophomore, who got beat earlier, comes back and picks it off for a touchdown. He is a wonderful young man, quiet, but he just works hard. He has got some size. … These are the kids we have coming up now. They are young, but it is good to see them starting to make some plays.”