September 29, 2008

Sprint Football Dominates Game Against Inexperienced Mansfield

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A hundred and sixteen years removed from hosting the first-ever nighttime football game, Mansfield again made history this past Saturday by becoming the first public institution in the nation to field a sprint football program. Cornell, however, spoiled the fun as the Red stormed into Karl Van Norman Field and left with a 35-0 victory.
After losing to Penn last weekend in the 88th meeting between the familiar foes, Cornell (1-1, 0-0 CSFL) traveled to Mansfield (0-1) to take on the Mounties in the school’s first-ever sprint football contest.
[img_assist|nid=32164|title=Kick butt and take names|desc=The sprint football team completely shut down the Mansfield rushing attack, holding it to -58 yards.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“No,” was the response from head coach Terry Cullen when asked if he knew anything about Mansfield’s sprint team prior to the game. “They were a Division II scholarship program that dropped the heavyweight program two years ago.”
“They’re kind of a wildcard team,” senior Matt Malleo said before the game. “… But we’re not looking past Mansfield.”
Despite not knowing what to expect, the Red improved its record in games against new opponents to 9-5. The last time Cornell lost to an opponent it had not previously played was 51 years ago, when Army defeated Cornell 48-0.
“It was definitely an interesting situation, just because we’ve never had to play a team that didn’t have a reputation,” Malleo said. “We expected them to have some good players from the varsity program and we were expecting a challenge, but the main focus was on us and how we were going to play — improving from last week and getting back on the right track.”
Cornell definitely got back on track and even looked like it had found the “it-factor” the Red used in 2006 to capture the national championship. Cornell’s offense took control of the game early, scoring less than five minutes into the game on a one-yard run from senior quarterback Zak Dentes. Dentes completed Cornell’s first passing touchdown of the season later in the first quarter, connecting with Josh Friedman from 25 yards out.
Cornell ended its third drive with a third touchdown — another one-yard quarterback run, this time from sophomore Corey Elliot. Cornell took a 21-0 lead into halftime.
“The offense played really well,” Malleo said. “They immediately came out and scored on the first three possessions — just methodically drove down the field and made sure that once they got in the red zone the scored.”
The Red kept moving the ball in the second half until junior D.J. Schiavetta had Cornell’s third one-yard touchdown scamper. Senior Ryan Smith added another rushing touchdown later in the third to cap Cornell’s lead at 35-0.
Cornell ended the game with three different quarterbacks completing passes, five different receivers recording receptions and eight different players with at least three rushing attempts. It seemed as if every player on the roster contributed to the Red’s 456 yards of total offense.
“[Freshman quarterback] Timothy Braun was throwing the ball well, [junior wideout] Christian Latimer had four or five catches, [junior receiver] Upal [Sarker] — we call him UHaul cause he hauls in everything, was playing well …” Malleo said before continuing to list nearly every offensive player. “I think we have confidence in all of our players. When anyone has the chance to step in and play, they’ve done all they can.”
Meanwhile, the defense was busy putting together one of the most impressive statistical performances many football fans have ever seen. The Red allowed, in a full regulation game, just 14 yards of total offense. Engulfed in a storm of Red the entire game, the Mounties mounted together -58 yards on the ground.
“That’s pretty much what it was — a whole lot of tackles for a loss and a bunch of sacks,” Malleo said. “They definitely couldn’t get the run game going and when they tried to pass, we were sacking them consistently. Our pass rush was definitely very solid — something to hang our hat on and hopefully continue next week against Navy.”
Cornell ended the game with three sacks and 26 players with at least one recorded tackle. Senior Mitch Ottinger was one of those players. Listed as an offensive lineman, Ottinger ended the game with one tackle and five points, going 5-for-5 on PATs.