November 7, 2008

Red Looks to Avenge 2007 Loss at Dartmouth

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After a disheartening loss to Princeton last week, the Red will look to move back to .500 with a win over Dartmouth at Schoellkopf Field tomorrow afternoon. In last week’s contest, the team had 555 yards of offense but still lost by five points. The loss was the Red’s third Ivy loss of the year, making it nearly impossible to win an Ivy League title. But that sentiment wasn’t obvious on the field yesterday evening as the team prepped for another Ivy League foe.
[img_assist|nid=33397|title=Evasive maneuvers|desc=Cornell will have a run-first mentality against Dartmouth tomorrow, looking to put the ball in the hands of junior running back Randy Barbour (30).|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“Coach has tried to stress that [we need to keep playing hard],” Ford said. “We’ll be focused on Saturday.”
“We have worked hard to look forward to the next game,” said head coach Jim Knowles ’87. “To live in the present, accept reality for what it is. These guys have played hard. We’ve had a tough stretch. They are fired up for this week. It is all about us versus them. Guys are getting ready to play their best game.”
The last time a team won a share of the Ivy title with two conference losses was in 1982. The Red (3-4, 1-3 Ivy), already with three, has its own set off motivations to win this weekend. Last season, the team traveled all the way Hanover, N.H., and gave up 59 points in a 28-point loss. That alone has the Red pumped for the team’s second-to-last home game.
“We are pretty much using the motivation of getting our butts kicked last year up there,” said sophomore defensive back Emani Fenton. “Anytime you give up 59 in one game you want to come back and really have a great showing. Our coaches have been using that as motivation.”
“I’m pretty excited, it’s a big game,” said senior co-captain quarterback Nathan Ford. “We have to get back on track and we have to take it out on Dartmouth.”
If this season’s history is any judge, however, it may be hard for Dartmouth (0-7, 0-4 Ivy) to repeat its offensive outburst. The Green have topped the 20-point plateau only twice this season, and have finished three games with single digit points. The squad has lost its seven games by an average of nearly three touchdowns, coming closest against Columbia — an eight-point defeat.
The Red itself is in a four-game losing streak, but offense has not been the problem. The problem has been punching it in once marching down to the red zone. Last week, the team got into the red zone six times but was only able to score two touchdowns. In fact, there were two possessions where the team came away empty-handed, including one turnover in the end zone.
“Scoring is what it comes down to,” Ford said. “We moved the ball down the field against Princeton, but we didn’t put up enough points. Touchdowns, efficiency in the end zone, all of that stuff has been stressed in practice this week.”
In order to fix that, Knowles will try and implement Barbour and the running game more — especially with the threat of showers tomorrow.
“We definitely want to run the ball,” Knowles said. “We need to bring back the running game. Our running game has been vacant the past couple of weeks. Rain or shine, the run will help us.”
“We’ve seen that [Dartmouth is] susceptible to the run game,” said junior running back Randy Barbour. “We are looking to run first and then open up the pass. Hopefully, when we get in the red zone, I get couple of more touches and get a chance to produce then.”
Dartmouth has had even more trouble than Cornell in establishing the run, though. Averaging only 54.3 yards per game as a team, the Green has no feature back and no runner with more than one rushing touchdown.
Milan Williams has lead the Green with 266 yards on the season, but as a team Dartmouth only has three rushing tochdowns and a paltry 2.1 yards per carry average.
The Green passing attack has not been much better with Alex Jenny passing for five touchdowns, but nine interceptions. Dartmouth has rotated in two other signal callers, to little effectiveness.
Still, coming to Ithaca might be in the best interest for the Green. Its last victory was against Cornell last year in the aforementioned 59-point performance.