October 3, 2010

Football Defeats Bucknell for First Season Win

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Under the sunny skies of Lewisburg, Pa., the football team marched into Mathewson Stadium for an afternoon kickoff against the Bucknell Bison (0-4). This was a fierce contest on the road for the very young and injury-plagued Cornell squad (1-2) that ended in the Red’s first victory of the season, 21-12.

“It’s exciting to win. It’s our first win of the season and for a lot of the underclassmen, the freshmen, it’s our first win ever. It gives you a lot better feeling to get that ‘W’ as opposed to the last couple of weeks,” said freshman quarterback Jeff Mathews.

The Bison started the game off kicking to the Red, with an electrifying 65-yard return by sophomore Luke Tasker all the way to the Bucknell 13-yard line. Unfortunately, the superb field position was wasted by an inopportune interception on the very next play, with Mathews’ first pass attempt of the game. Bucknell then marched downfield for a seven-play, 56-yard drive, but was stopped by the Red’s defense that held Tyler Smith to no gain on his rushing attempt on fourth and two.

Cornell’s next drive was three plays and out, with a punt to Bucknell’s 46-yard line. Bucknell responded with a six-play drive for 33 yards, which ended when it missed a 30-yard field goal, wide right.

The teams continued to trade possession of the ball until the Red blocked the Bison’s punt, recovering the ball at the Bucknell 19-yard line. Five plays later, Cornell scored its first touchdown of the game, with senior Brad Greenway successfully making the extra point attempt. With the score reading 7-0, the first quarter concluded and Cornell never relinquished its lead for the remainder of the game.

“We need to do better offensively. We were able to score 21 points, which was great but we could’ve had a lot more points than that. It’s exciting to win but we still have a lot of improvements to make,” Mathews said.

In the second quarter, Cornell got on the scoreboard with another touchdown after a run by Tasker, with Greenway again connecting on the extra point attempt. This Cornell drive was an impressive 10-play, 60-yard drive, eating up over five minutes in time of possession.

Immediately before the end of the first half, Bucknell got on the board with a successful 21-yard-field goal attempt, sending the teams into halftime with Cornell holding a commanding 14-3 lead. The second quarter was highlighted by the Red’s passing attack, completing 9-of-13 passes for 109 yards. The only thing holding back the formidable Cornell offense were the seven penalties that occurred during the quarter.

“I don’t know if we did anything differently, but we still have a lot of issues we need to resolve. We need to execute better as a team. I thought our defense played very well yesterday, and that was one of the biggest reasons we won the game yesterday,” Mathews said.

In the third quarter, Bucknell drove again but was stopped at the Red’s 22-yard line, resulting in a successful field goal attempt that narrowed the score to 14-6. Cornell immediately went to work with its most impressive drive of the season, pounding the ball in 11 plays for a 70-yard touchdown, with another Greenway extra point kick to make it 21-6. The third quarter had one more scoring drive –– this one by Bucknell –– with the Bison moving 59 yards for a touchdown with their 2-point conversion failing, leaving the score 21-12. With neither team putting up points on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter, the game concluded, 21-12, in favor of Cornell.

Cornell’s offense woke up in Lewisburg, Pa., with nine rushing first downs and six passing first downs for 303 total offensive yards. The final score would have been far more lop-sided; however, the Red was hit with a total of 10 penalties, three fumbles and one interception. If it were not for these four turnovers and numerous penalties, Cornell would have had a blowout victory. But considering this is a very young squad, on the road, head coach Kent Austin has to be very pleased with the effort and the feeling of a “W” in the win column.

There were numerous stars in Cornell’s road victory. Leading the way offensively was Tasker, who had a remarkable 114 all-purpose yards, with 15 yards receiving, 14 yards running and the opening kick-off return of 65 yards. On defense, senior Dempsey Quinn, had an extremely impressive seven solo tackles, with two assisted tackles, giving him a team-high nine tackles for the game. Finally, special-teamer Drew Alston averaged 40.5 yards-per-punt for six punts, with a long punt of 48 yards. In comparison, the Bison’s punter had a very anemic 25.2 yards average per punt.

“It definitely gives us confidence. We know how winning is, and we have that taste now, that will push us a little harder so we feel that success again. Hopefully that translates for the rest of the season,” Mathews said.

Original Author: Jill Mendelsohn