April 28, 2008

Rain Ends Intrasquad Matchup

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The weather gods accomplished what neither defense could do Saturday in the annual Red-White spring football exhibition game. With nearly 60 points put on the board in the first half, the game was halted by a heavy deluge of rain as the Red team was driving with 10:44 remaining in the third quarter and the White team clinging to a 31-28 advantage.
Before the weather intervened, the Red team appeared poised to score after junior incumbent starting quarterback Nathan Ford rifled a 31-yard pass to junior wide receiver Zac Canty on the White team’s 24-yard line. However, Mother Nature ultimately prevailed, but not before Ford turned in an excellent performance, completing 12-of-17 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns.
“In the last year we made a real move to expand our passing game,” said head coach Jim Knowles ’87. “That is going to pay off dividends for us with more of a wide open attack. This year should be a special year with Nate Ford hitting on all cylinders.”
Canty and junior Jesse Baker provided Ford with deep strike downfield capabilities as Canty caught five balls for 112 yards and a touchdown while Baker hauled in four passes for 74 yards.
“I was real stoked when we got those two in the [Cornell Spring Football Game] draft [last Wednesday night] because we’ve had the longest time together,” Ford said. “I know exactly what they’re doing. Even a couple a times Jesse was wrong and went under a deep back, but I knew he was going to do it and I threw it anyway. We’ll probably get yelled at [today], but it worked out for a big game. Just the chemistry with those two is unbelievable.”[img_assist|nid=30275|title=Are you ready for some football!|desc=Junior quarterback had two touchdown passes and looked sharp in the spring game Saturday.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The White team, led by sophomore signal caller Ben Ganter, ran a balanced offensive attack as Ganter threw for 78 yards on 7-of-10 passing and sophomore running back Randy Barbour accumulated 39 yards on nine carries. Running back Luke Siwula did not play, but will be a key cog in Cornell’s backfield next season as a fifth-year senior.
“I’m really optimistic about the offense, especially with Luke Siwula coming back,” Knowles said. “Barbour had a great game and he had a great year last year as well.”
The White squad opened the game with some trickery as Ganter tossed a quick backward strike to sophomore wide receiver and former quarterback Stepher Liuzza on the visitor’s sideline. Liuzza relayed the lateral 65 yards down field to a wide open Horatio Blackman for the first score of the contest. Blackman, a junior wide receiver, hauled in 21 receptions for 194 yards and one touchdown for Cornell in the fall.
Liuzza caught 23 passes for 196 yards last season, and will be placed in a similar role in 2008 as Cornell uses the former quarterback’s versatility to exploit unsuspecting defenses.
However, the approach on defense is not as complex according to Knowles.
“On defense, we tried to stay real simple this spring,” he said. “We just tried to be basic. On defense, we have all seniors except for the corners. I feel good. We hit a lot this spring.”
The defense’s focus this spring has centered on converting turnovers and each team forced at least one turnover during Saturday’s contest.
“We worked on a lot of things this spring, especially fundamentals and taking the ball away,” said junior defensive lineman Lucas McCarthy. “Last year, we were last in college football for takeaways. I think we’ve come together very well.”
McCarthy recorded two tackles and reached the quarterback for a sack while his teammate, junior linebacker Brian Ostrowsky, led the Red with seven tackles and one sack.
Leading up to the spring game, Cornell held 11 spring practices over the course of 20 days. As the loser of the spring game for the second year in a row, the Red team earned primary car washing duties once again at the Shortstop Deli fundraiser yesterday, benefiting the Family and Children’s Service of Ithaca.