October 26, 2007

Red, Tigers Battle Under the Lights

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After two consecutive Saturday afternoon wins, Cornell will suit up tonight against Princeton in a contest under the Friday night lights. A win over the Tigers will not only give the Red a .500 Ivy record, but will give the Red squad exposure to a national audience. With the contest being aired on ESPNU, the Red has a little bit more motivation to earn the victory.
“We are pretty excited,” said senior offensive lineman Steve Valenta. “It’s our first time on national television. We are going to come into the game looking to win with a lot of momentum.”
Cornell is coming off a stunning win against Brown last week. While being as far down as 17 points, the team stormed back to win in overtime. The contest was capped by sophomore Randy Barbour’s touchdown run. That win comes after a homecoming victory in which junior Nathan Ford threw a 4th-and-19 touchdown pass to sophomore Bryan Walters to key the win.
“We have two good wins,” Valenta said. “We just want to keep it coming.”
With 10 the Red’s last 12 contests against the Tigers decided by seven points or less, both teams have a history of playing tight games with one another.
The Red will likely need another solid performance from its offensive line to get the win, however. In last week’s contest, Cornell opened the door for Barbour, allowing him to total three touchdowns and 159 yards. With senior running back Luke Siwula out of commission last week, the Red adjusted to give Barbour a chance at succeeding in the rushing game.
“We did add a couple of new running plays,” Valenta said. “Randy’s a different type of running back, so we had to create different blocking schemes.”
The improvisation might come in handy tonight as the Red faces a Tigers squad that allows 129.2 yards a game.
While running the ball might come easier tonight, defending the run may be more difficult against a run-heavy Princeton offense. Cornell has already allowed over 100 yards to Yale’s All-Ivy junior running back Mike McLeod and Colgate’s Jordan Scott, and will be faced with Princeton’s multiple-back running approach. The Tigers’ rushing attack features six different players that have combined for an average of 163.2 yards per game.
In addition to exposure in front of a national audience, a win would also be the Red’s first back-to-back wins.
“I don’t know what the problem was,” Valenta said. “But right now, we are going to just keep doing what we have been doing recently and look for the win.”